Frisbee inventor Fred Morrison, a former SLO County resident, dies at 90

Fred Morrison was a building inspector here when he made the ‘Whirlo-Way’; beaches would never be the same

Staff and wire reportsFebruary 11, 2010 

Frisbee's 50th Anniversary

In this photo provided by Wham-O, Frisbee inventor Walter 'Fred' Morrison test-flies a re-issue of the Pluto Platter Frisbee disc in 2006 in Carpinteria, Calif. Morrison once lived in San Luis Obispo County.

JOHN HAYES — ASSOCIATED PRESS

MONROE, Utah — Walter “Fred” Morrison, the man credited with inventing the Frisbee, has died. He was 90.

Morrison created the disc when he lived in San Luis Obispo.

State Rep. Kay McIff, an attorney who once represented Morrison in a royalties case, said Morrison died at his home Tuesday. McIff is from Richfield, Utah, Morrison’s original hometown.

Morrison sold the production and manufacturing rights to his “Pluto Platter” in 1957. The plastic flying disc was later renamed the Frisbee, with sales surpassing 200 million discs. It is now a staple at beaches and college campuses across the country and spawned sports like Frisbee golf and the team sport Ultimate.

Morrison co-wrote a book with Frisbee enthusiast and historian Phil Kennedy in 2001. Kennedy released a brief biography about Morrison on Thursday, wishing his late friend “smoooooth flights.”

Morrison was a building inspector in San Luis Obispo when he developed the disc.

“I thought Frisbee was a terrible name,” Morrison told the AP in 2007. “I thought it was insane.”

Frisbee instead became insanely popular, making the name as synonymous with flying discs as Google is with searching on the Internet and Kleenex is with tissue.

Morrison began experimenting with flying objects in his teens. He said he first tossed around a popcorn lid at a Thanksgiving gathering in 1937 and later graduated to cake pans.

When he first started to think of designing a flying disc, Morrison called it the “Whirlo-Way” in a tribute to the racehorse Whirlaway, which won the 1941 Triple Crown.

“All Fred was trying to do at the time was build a better flying cake pan,” said Kennedy, who teamed up with Morrison to write “Flat Flip Flies Straight,” a book detailing the Frisbee’s history.

The Associated Press and Tribune staff writer Pat Pemberton contributed to this report.

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