The inventor of the Frisbee was cremated and turned into a Frisbee. I personally can’t think of any reason why, if you were cremated, you wouldn’t want your remains to go somewhere that you love or enjoy. That’s exactly what ‘Steady’ Ed Headrick, the inventor of the Frisbee requested before his death.
The invention of a flying disc type object has been around for thousands of years. The Greeks used a very similar item as a weapon of war, the discus, which is used today in Olympic events. While basic flying discs have been in use for a very long time, it wasn’t really until Walter Morrison came along before the Second World War that the device started to find a niche as a toy.
One day Morrison and his wife were playing with a tin cake pan at a beach in Santa Monica, California, tossing it back and forth to one another. Before long a few people were noticing the fun the pair were having, and offered to buy the improvised toy for 25 cents. As the cake pans only cost 5 cents to purchase, Morrison saw the potential for a market. He soon started selling his flying discs on beaches and markets, but his small venture into marketing was cut short by WWII.
After WWII, in which he served as a pilot in the Air Force, and was also shot down and spent time as a POW, he started his old business up again. But his time in the Air Force gave him the opportunity to improve on his unstable invention. Over the years he continued to improve on his toy, and it also had a few name changes along the way. He managed to capitalize on the UFO craze, renaming his toy “Pluto Platter”. In 1957 he was approached by the Wham-O toy company, and they convinced him to sell the rights of the toy to them. This is when it was renamed the Frisbee.
At this time the toy developed by Morrison was a little popular, but considered a wobbly flying disc. The stability of the thing in flight left a lot to be desired. This is where ‘Steady’ Ed Headrick comes in. He revolutionized the toy, and the company. But it may have never happened.
When Headrick first approached Wham-O, his application for work was rejected. He offered to work for them for three months without pay or guarantee of a job. Basically after three months they could do what ever they wanted with him. The offer was accepted, and Headrick was given the job of working on, and improving the Pluto Platter.
Over three months he changed the design, and its reliability in flight. So impressed with his design, the owners of the company offered him a full time job, with back pay to the date that he started. Within only ten years of getting the job, he was CEO of the company.
Headrick, in his time with the company, also invented a game called Disc Golf. The object of the game is to throw a disc, or Frisbee type object around a course and into a basket in as few throws as possible. Over the years the game has managed to become even more popular.It was his dying wish, as the inventor of the Frisbee, to be cremated and turned into several Frisbees. His dying wish was honored, with a final happy twist.
Before his death he lamented the pleasure of the simple toy.
I felt the Frisbee had some kind of a spirit involved. It’s not just like playing catch with a ball, it’s the beautiful flight… We used to say that Frisbee is really a religion – Frisbyterians we’d call ourselves. When we die, we don’t go to purgatory. We just land up on the roof and lay there.
As it turns out, Headrick died using the toy he invented, playing the game he invented from a massive stroke. As per his request, he was cremated and his ashes were added to the plastic to make several Frisbees. They were given to friends and family members, with one being thrown by his wife onto the roof of The Ed Headrick Memorial Museum.
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