Friday, February 12, 2010

Godspeed Stuntman Bobby Hoy and Frisbee Inventor Fred Morrison

Bobby Hoy

Stuntman and actor Bobby Hoy passed on February 8 at the age of 82.  He was well known for his skill with horses.

Bobby Hoy was born on April 3, 1927 in New York City. He was only seven years old when he started working part time on a ranch. It was near the end of World War II that he joined the United States Marine Corps. It was in 1946 that he took a job in a ranch in Nevada. His first stunts were performed for the Western Ambush, released in 1950. It was also in Ambush that he first acted, appearing in a bit part as a trooper.The Fifties saw Hoy become very much in demand as a stuntman. He performed stunts in movies as diverse as The Black Shield of Falworth, Destry, A Star is Born, The Defiant Ones, and To Hell and Back. Among the most notable films upon which he worked were North by Northwest and Spartacus (on which Kirk Douglas accidentally cracked one of his ribs). He also did stunts for the television series Death Valley Days, Laramie, and Johnny Ringo. As an actor he appeared in such films as The Black Shield of Falworth, Revenge of the Creature, Tammy and the Bachelor, No Time for Sergeants. He guest starred on the TV shows Have Gun--Will Travel, Sea Hunt, Steve Canyon, and December Bride.

In 1961 Bobby Hoy co-founded Stuntmen's Association of Motion Pictures. The Sixties him perform stunts for the movies The Ugly American, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Shenandoah, The Great Race, Nevada Smith, Beau Geste, and Che. He also did stunts for the TV shows Bonanza and The Iron Horse. He guest starred on several TV shows, including The Tall Man, Bat Masterson, The Jack Benny Programme, The Untouchables, The Rifleman, Combat, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Star Trek. He was a regular on The High Chaparral as ranch hand Joe Butler. He acted in such movies as The Love Bug5 Czrd  and 5 Card Stud.

The Seventies saw Bobby Hoy perform stunts for such movies as The Don is Dead, The Gauntlet, The Outlaw Josey Wales, and The Enforcer. He also performed stunts for the series The Streets of San Francisco. He guest starred on such shows as Mission Impossible. Search, Kung Fu, Hec Ramsey, The Magician, The Rockford Files, and Wonder Woman. He appeared in such movies as Bank Shot, The Duchess and the Dirt Water Fox, and The Outlaw Josey Wales.

 From the Eighties into the Nineties  Bobby Hoy performed stunts on the TV show The Fall Guy, the mini-series North and South, and the movies Seems Like Old Times, Fighting Back, and Legal Eagles. He guest starred on Quincy M.E., Dallas, The Fall Guy, Magnum P.I., Beauty and the Beast, The Young Riders, and Zorro. He was a semi-regular on the series Our House.

Bobby Hoy was arguably one of the greatest stuntmen of all time. He reportedly had a natural gift for dealing with horses in a way no one else could. He either acted or performed stunts for a good number of TV Westerns. He also performed one of the most daring stunts on film. As Tony Curtis's double in The Defiant Ones he faced the currents of a river while chained to Ivan Dixon (Sidney Potier's stunt double). He was certainly one of the best.

Fred Morrison

Fred Morrison, the inventor of the Frisbee, passed on February 9 at the age of 90.

Fred Morrison was born in Richefiled, Utah in 1920. It was in 1937 that he first developed the idea for the Frisbee at a Thanksgiving picnic. He and his future wife Lucille were throwing a cake pan to each other. When passers by took an interest in the pan, Morrison decided he had an idea for a new toy. The two began selling cake pans on the beach for 25 cents apiece. During World War II Morrison served in the United States Army Air Corps, flying both bombers and fighters. Shot down over Germany, he was held prisoner in Stalag XIII.

Following the war Fred Morrison worked as a carpenter. He also used the knowledge of aerodynamics he gained during the war to develop a better flying disc. Initially named the "Flyin' Saucer," he redesigned the product in 1955 and renamed it the Pluto Platter. Sadly, the Pluto Platter proved no more successful than earlier designs. Fortunately Morrison's fortunes changed when he met Richard Knerr and Arthur Melin of fledgeling toy company Wham-O. Morrison licensed his flying disc to Wham-O, who renamed it the Frisbee (generally said to be named for the Frisbie Pie Company, although Knerr maintained it was named for a comic strip character). The Frisbee became Wham-O's first hit in the toy industry and arguably its biggest hit as well.

Fred Morrison would invent a few more toys, but none proved as successful as the Frisbee. He both operated a small airport and raised quarter horses on a ranch in Utah.

In inventing the Frisbee, Fred Morrison created one of the most popular toys of all time. Indeed, had he never developed the Frisbee, toy history may have developed very differently. At the time that Wham-O bought the rights to Morrison's flying disc, they were still a small company struggling to make it on slingshots, boomerangs, tomahawks, and crossbows. The Frisbee turned Wham-O into a contender in the toy industry. It is quite possible that if it was not for the Frisbee, we  would not have the Hula Hoop, the Super Ball, Silly String, or any of the other toys later developed by Wham-O. What is more, while the Hula Hoop and Super Ball would become outright fads, popular for a short time, the Frisbee has remained consistently popular. Hundreds of millions of Frisbees continue to be sold to this day.

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