Other notable deaths

January 18, 2008

RICHARD KNERR, 82 Founder of Wham-O

Richard Knerr, co-founder of the toy company that popularized the Hula Hoop, Frisbee and other fads that became classics, has died. He was 82.

Mr. Knerr, who started Wham-O in 1948 with childhood friend Arthur "Spud" Melin, died Monday at a hospital after suffering a stroke earlier in the day at his Arcadia, Calif., home, his wife, Dorothy, told the Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Knerr and Mr. Melin got their start in business peddling slingshots. They named their enterprise Wham-O.They branched into other sporting goods, including boomerangs and crossbows, then added the Superball, Slip `N Slide and Silly String.

When a friend told them in 1958 about a large ring used for exercise in Australia, they devised their own version and called it the Hula Hoop.

About the same time, they bought the rights to a plastic flying disc invented by Walter "Fred" Morrison, who called it the Pluto Platter. Wham-O bought the rights and renamed it the Frisbee.

The rest is amusement history.

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