'Twister' Inventor Dead at 82

Chuck Foley and a collaborator came up with the game

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jul 11, 2013 6:10 PM CDT
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(Newser) – Twister called itself "the game that ties you up in knots." Its detractors called it "sex in a box." Charles "Chuck" Foley, the father of nine who invented the game that became a naughty sensation in living rooms across America in the 1960s and 1970s, has died. He was 82 and had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Foley and a collaborator, Neil Rabens, were hired in the mid-1960s by a St. Paul manufacturing firm that wanted to expand into games and toys. They came up with a game to be played on a mat on the floor, using a spinner to direct players to place their hands and feet on different colored circles.

"Dad wanted to make a game that could light up a party," said son Mark. "They originally called it `Pretzel.' But they sold it to Milton Bradley, which came up with the `Twister' name." The game became a sensation after Johnny Carson and Eva Gabor played it on the Tonight Show in 1966. To be sure, the game got plenty of innocent play, too, becoming popular in grade schools and at children's parties. But its popularity among teens and young adults was owed to an undeniable sex appeal, with players getting tangled up with each other and usually collapsing in a heap. Hasbro Inc., which now manufacturers the game, said it continues to be a top seller.

This undated photo shows Charles Chuck Foley.
This undated photo shows Charles "Chuck" Foley.   ((AP Photo/Courtesy of Mark Foley))
A game of Twister.
A game of Twister.   (WAYNE CROSSLIN)
In a 1966 photo, co-inventors of the game Twister Charles Foley, left, and Neil Rabens demonstrate how it's played.
In a 1966 photo, co-inventors of the game "Twister" Charles Foley, left, and Neil Rabens demonstrate how it's played.   (Pioneer Press: Buzz Magnuson)
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