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Toy Inventor Made His Name With The Game of Life
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Dave P.
2021-09-24 21:00:03 UTC
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Toy Inventor Made His Name With The Game of Life
By James R. Hagerty, 9/17/21, Wall St. Journal

In 1959, Reuben Klamer pitched his latest toy idea to
Milton Bradley Co.—a kit that would teach children to
create art. The company nixed that idea but asked him
to try to dream up a board game.

The result was The Game of Life, inspired by The Checkered
Game of Life, invented a century earlier by the company’s
founder, Milton Bradley. The new game, introduced in 1960,
proved a long-running success story, now owned by Hasbro
Inc. Taking on the immensely popular Monopoly game, Klamer
sent players along twisting paths rather than down straight
avenues & used a spinner instead of dice to determine
whether their life choices pay off.

Mr. Bradley’s 1860s game is grimly moralistic; intemperance
leads to poverty & gambling to ruin. Klamer’s version is
more about making career choices, buying insurance,
investing in real estate & saving for retirement.

Klamer, who served as a U.S. Navy officer during WWII,
tried the air-cargo & advertising businesses before
recasting himself as an inventor of toys & games.

Among his many other creations were a version of the hula
hoop, Tupperware Busy Blocks & a cotton-candy maker. He
teamed up with Art Linkletter, a TV & radio personality,
who endorsed some of Klamer’s products, including
The Game of Life.

Klamer died Tuesday at his home in La Jolla CA. He was 99.
His own game of life, he said in 2012, “has been one rocky
road after the other, & every once in a while I get a hit.”

Reuben Benjamin Klamer (pronounced like “claimer”) was
born June 20, 1922, & raised in Canton OH. His parents
were Romanian Jewish immigrants. His mother worked as a
seamstress, & his father was a dealer in used barrels.

At Ohio State U., Klamer was on the debate team & earned
a business degree. He signed up for a Navy officer-training
program during WWII & served in combat on amphibious
landing craft in the Pacific.

After a brief period working for an airfreight company,
Klamer founded his own advertising firm & promoted Gold
Rivet jeans. In 1949, he joined Ideal Toy Co. & worked
in sales. He later became a manager at Eldon Industries,
where he handled design, marketing & sales of toys. In that
job, he found success with a line of Big Poly trucks & other
toys made from polyethylene & promoted as being unbreakable.

By the late 50s, he had his own toy-development firm based
in Beverly Hills CA. In 1962, while watching his son Jeff
use a discarded medical syringe to spray water at his
friends, Klamer came up with the idea for a toy, the Hypo-
Squirt, that blasted water more than 20 feet. In 2005, he
was inducted into the Toy Assn’s Hall of Fame.

Klamer is survived by 4 kids and 3 grandkids. His two
marriages ended in divorce.

In recent months, he was putting finishing touches on a
memoir and looking for a publisher.

A few weeks ago, a friend of Klamer alluded to the
possibility that he might soon be heading to heaven.
“I don’t have a reservation,” he quipped.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/toy-inventor-made-his-name-with-the-game-of-life-11631887201
A Friend
2021-09-24 21:39:43 UTC
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Among his many other creations were a version of the hula hoop,
Tupperware Busy Blocks & a cotton-candy maker. He teamed up with Art
Linkletter, a TV & radio personality, who endorsed some of Klamer’s
products, including The Game of Life.
Art Linkletter was a very important TV personality in mid-century. His
endorsement of The Game of Life gave it some heft in the marketplace.

I had a dome-y thing he endorsed called Moon Rocks. You had these
small pebbles of (probably) calcium in a liquid that made the rocks
grow into long, thin fingers of (probably) calcium. All of this was
contained in a small dome-like structure. Eventually someone would
knock into it and the fingers would collapse. They didn't regrow.
There wasn't much to it.

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/hasbro-vintage-toy-moon-rocks-490
724891

The pictures show colored pebbles, but I remember them as being white.
radioacti...@gmail.com
2021-09-25 09:54:22 UTC
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Thanks oodles for rekindling a childhood memory, Friend!

But here's something I've NEVER forgotten: the first exposure to the word (and title) "esquire" that this future paralegal--day job those years I was getting my showbiz career happening--was on those Game of Life $100,000 bills [white, like those phony Moon Rocks] which displayed under the portrait, the inscription (if my pushing-67 memory is intact) "Arthur Linkletter, Esq.".

EVEN THOUGH, to the best of my knowledge--but new millionaire Matt Amado probably knows for sure!--the "People Are funny!" and "House Party" host never graduated law school, much less passed the bar and thus earned the title.

BRYAN STYBLE/Florida

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