Father of the Hula Hoop, Frisbee Dies

Richard Knerr's Wham-O also produced Slip 'N Slide, Silly String
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Jan 17, 2008 4:23 PM CST
Almost every American family owned a Hula Hoop by the 60s.    (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – 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.