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Frisbee inventor Fred Morrison dies at 90

Emma Brown

The origins of the ubiquitous Frisbee, friend to picnicgoers and college kids everywhere, are shrouded in legend. But the disc's lineage can in fact be traced back to one man, Fred Morrison, who died Feb. 9 at his home in Monroe, Utah. He had been ill with lung cancer.

Mr. Morrison got the idea for a flying-saucer toy in 1937 when, during a family Thanksgiving feast in southern California, he and his girlfriend entertained themselves by tossing a popcorn-tin lid back and forth in the backyard.

The lid eventually dented, ruining its aerodynamic potential. Mr. Morrison experimented with a sturdier cake pan, which he and Lucile sold on weekends at beaches and parks in the Los Angeles area.

After serving as a fighter-bomber pilot during World War II and enduring 48 days as a POW in a German stalag, Mr. Morrison went to work as a carpenter. But he never lost sight of his flying-cake-pan entrepreneurial dreams.

In the 1950s, he designed an aerodynamic disc made of plastic. The nation was then caught up in UFO fever; Mr. Morrison called his invention the Pluto Platter and marketed it at fairs in California by dressing up as an astronaut.

Hula Hoop manufacturer Wham-O Mfg. took notice of the Pluto Platter's brisk sales and bought the rights in 1957, renaming it "Frisbee" when an executive noticed Ivy Leaguers' penchant for tossing around pie pans from the Frisbie Pie Co.

Mr. Morrison earned seven figures in royalties. And the world was never quite the same.


By Emma Brown  |  February 11, 2010; 12:52 PM ET
Categories:  Emma Brown  
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Comments

On behalf of all Ultimate players, rest in peace Fred.

Posted by: pfallsgirl | February 11, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Hooray for you Fred Morrison, from all the Longwood College Ultimate Frisbee "TM's"!

Posted by: Sirius2 | February 11, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

from disc golf players in dallas area, rest in peace mr. morrison

Posted by: rcraigj2003 | February 11, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Hard to say how much enjoyment his invention gave to people around the world. Just checkout some of the organizations that help run the "Frisbee" world today, the Ultimate Players Association (upa.org), the World Flying Disc Federation (wfdf.org), and all the various local clubs including DC's own Washington Area Frisbee Club (wafc.org).

Posted by: silverspringer3 | February 12, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

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