Co-founder of staple American 'fun' toys dies at 82

Updated: January 18, 2008, 11:35 AM ET
Associated Press

ARCADIA, Calif. -- Richard Knerr, a co-founder of the company that turned the Hula Hoop and Frisbee into beloved toys, has died. He was 82.

Knerr's wife told The Los Angeles Times that her husband died at a hospital Monday after suffering a stroke at his home in Arcadia, Calif.

Knerr and childhood buddy Spud Melin started a slingshot-selling business in 1948 and called their company Wham-O after what they said was the sound of something hit by a slingshot.

Ten years later, Wham-O devised its own version of an Australian exercise ring and called it the Hula Hoop. Around the same time, the company bought the rights to a plastic flying disc called the Pluto Platter. They renamed it the Frisbee, and the rest, as they say is outdoor fun history.

Wham-O added other toys to its line including the Superball, the Slip 'N Slide and Silly String.

Melin died in 2002 at 77.

In an interview back in 1994, Knerr said his company contributed "fun" to America.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press