Richard Knerr, co-founder of the company that launched the Hula Hoop, Frisbee, and Silly String, died of a stroke Monday at 82. Knerr went from selling slingshots out of his parents' garage with lifelong pal and business partner Arthur Melin to creating the hugely profitable Wham-O toy company. The story is "pure Americana," one Frisbee fan told the Los Angeles Times.
The innovative duo nabbed the idea for the Hula Hoop from a bamboo exercise ring; within months, Wham-O had sold 25 million. It was sold to Mattel in 1994 and then to an investor group. Knerr made his fortune, but he never turned into a stuffy suit: "If it wasn't about fun, he wasn't interested," said one relative.