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2000s / Hula Hoop - Frisbee Inventor Passes today at age 82
ARCADIA, Calif., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Richard Knerr, co-founder of Wham-O, which gave the world the Hula Hoop and the Frisbee, has died at an Arcadia, Calif., hospital at 82. Knerr died Monday at Methodist Hospital after suffering a stroke earlier in the day at his home, his wife, Dorothy, told the Los Angeles Times. Knerr and his boyhood buddy Arthur "Spud" Melin started the company in 1948 in Pasadena. They named the enterprise Wham-O for the sound that their first product, a slingshot, made when it hit its target. Dozens of toys followed that often bore playful names like Superball, Slip 'N Slide and the Water Wiggle. But, they hit it big with a redesigned bamboo ring used for exercise in Australia that became one of the most popular fads of all time -- the Hula Hoop. Knerr and Melin figure they sold 25 million hoops in four months in the late 1950s. It had one major fault: it never wore out. In 1958, while the hoop was going great guns, the team came up with the Frisbee, another wildly popular fad that sold an estimated 100 million over the next 30 years. In addition to his wife, Knerr, who was born June 30, 1925, in San Gabriel,Calif., was survived by three children, two stepchildren and eight grandchildren. Melin died in 2002.