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Wham-O Founder Passes Away

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Richard Knerr June 30, 1925 - January 14, 2008


Richard Knerr, co-founder of Wham-O Inc, passed away Monday at the age of 82 at Methodist Hospital in Arcadia after suffering from a stroke. His business partner, Arthur "Spud" Melin, preceded him in death in 2002.

Wham-O was founded on a slingshot, and together childhood friends Knerr and Melin went on to found an empire. The name Wham-O was onomotopoeia for the sound made when the slingshot hit its mark. The company had a knack for catchy names, starting huge crazes with toys like the Hula Hoop, Hacky Sack, and Slip'n Slide.

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All of our childhoods were touched by this man, the pioneer behind Super Balls, Frisbees, Water Wiggles and my personal favorite - SuperElasticBubblePlastic. Knerr was never afraid to try anything new, and according to the LA Times, the approach sometimes resulted in flops, such as the do-it-yourself fallout shelter.

Founded in 1948, Wham-O is now owned by Cornerstone Overseas Investment, based in Hong Kong. (

Knerr, who was known to linger in toy stores, told The Times in 1994: "If Spud and I had to say what we contributed, it was fun. But I think this country gave us more than we gave it. It gave us the opportunity to do it." - The LA Times

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