back to John Hertz, fanwriter

Richard Knerr 1925-2008

from Vanamonde #776 (2008)

Richard Knerr (rhymes with burr, silent k) with Arthur Melin (alas for an r, and in fact pronounced "muh-LIN", 1925-2002; they were schoolmates at Univ. S. Cal.) founded the Wham-O company, which brought us the Hula Hoop and the Frisbee fifty years ago. The Hoop was a magnificent fad. In its first year Wham-O sold 40 million; by 1960, that wonderful year, 100 million, surpassing any other toy. Unfortunately the fad evaporated, and when the skies cleared Wham-O's profit was only $10,000. The Frisbee is still with us. From its prototype the pie tin, or perhaps the discus, Wham-O perfected it, including the superb nine-word instructions "Flat flip flies straight, tilted flip curves; invent games," which we did. For Knerr and Melin to achieve either was remarkable; both, spectacular. Wham-O keeping on was ten years later remarkable again for the SuperBall, which sold 7 million by the Christmas after its release and may have inspired the football name Super Bowl; twenty years after that, the Hacky Sack. R.I.P.