Celebrities And Their Patents

Celebrity InventorsCelebrities aren’t always just pretty faces.  Sometimes they go beyond their job description and come up with an innovation or invention which is truly unique.  These aren’t products or innovations that celebrities are just endorsing.  They are inventions that they conceived and have submitted for patents.  Sure, when you think of these people you certainly wouldn’t consider them inventors, but that’s exactly what is on their resumes.   When available, I’ve included the original drawings sent to the United States Patent offices for these inventions so you can see exactly what the celeb had in mind when they were designing their inventions.

myfivebest -1Michael Jackson
The King of Pop was an icon before he was even a teenager.  His contribution to music, dance, and fashion, along with a much-publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades.  For “Smooth Criminal”, Jackson experimented with an innovative “anti-gravity lean” in his performances. The maneuver required special shoes for which he was granted U.S. Patent No. 5,255,452.  The props needed for this “anti-gravity lean” consist of pegs that rise from the stage at the appropriate moment, and special shoes with ankle supports and cutouts in the heels which can slide over the pegs and be thereby attached to the stage temporarily.These allow the performers to lean without needing to keep their centers of mass directly over their feet. The anti-gravity lean is inspired by the Tin Man’s walk in The Wizard of Oz.


myfivebest - 2Marlon Brando
Everyone knows the man who played Vito Corleone.  Brando was famous for such movies as The Godfather (1972), On The Waterfront (1954), and The Wild One (1953).  What most people don’t know is that Brando also held several patents for tensioning drum heads.  The invention allow an individual to quickly and reliably tune the drum either manually, by operating a motor, or automatically by way of a tuning circuit.  Brando had been a jazz drummer in his father’s band as a teenager and never gave up his love for the instrument.  The result was U.S. Patent number #6,812, 392.


myfivebest - 3Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen was one of the top leading men in the 1960s and 1970s.  He was nicknamed “The King of Cool”.  His popular films include The Magnificent Seven (1960) , The Great Escape (1963), The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Bullitt (1968), Papillon (1973), and The Towering Inferno (1974).  He was also an avid racer of both motorcycles and cars. While he studied acting, he supported himself partly by competing in weekend motorcycle races and bought his first motorcycle with his winnings.  Because of his love for racing, McQueen held two patents for designs of the bucket seat shell (Patent number #219, 813) and the Transbrake for race cars.  His bucket seat shell was first used in the movie, Bullitt.


myfivebest - 4Jamie Lee Curtis
The daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh is the star of such movies as Halloween (1978), True Lies (1994), and A Fish Called Wanda (1988).  In 1987, Curtis filed a US patent application that subsequently issued as Patent No. 4,753,647. This is a modification of a diaper with a moisture proof pocket containing wipes that can be taken out and used with one hand.  Curtis refused to allow her invention to be marketed until companies started selling biodegradable diapers, although the full statutory term of this patent expired February, 2007 and is now in the public domain.


myfivebest - 5Paul Winchell
OK, you probably have no idea who Paul Winchell was.  Winchell was a ventriloquist back in the 1950s and 1960s during the early days of television.  He was sort of the precursor to Jeff Dunham.  His famous dummies were Knucklehead Smiff and Jerry Mahoney.  During the mid-1960s, he hosted his own television kid show that was very popular.  Winchell didn’t really want to be a ventriloquist when he was growing up, though.  He wanted to be a doctor.  Unfortunately, he grew up during the Great Depression where he contacted Polio.  That ruined his chances of becoming a physician.  He did get the chance to study in medical school, briefly, before having to drop out due to lack of funds.  Instead of giving up, though, Winchell went on to invent some pretty cool stuff for many industries.  He really proved that he was no dummy.  Here is a partial list of the 30+ patents that belong to him:

The artificial heart with the assistance of Dr. Henry Heimlich (the inventor of the Heimlich Maneuver) and held the first patent for such a device. U.S. Patent #3, 097, 366 (The Jarvik Heart is a copy of this).

The retractable ink pen: U.S. Patent #3, 071, 113

The lens cover for cameras.  Winchell holds six patents on these.  U.S. Patents and dates.

Some of the other devices he invented and patented include a disposable razor, a blood plasma defroster, a flameless cigarette lighter, an “invisible” garter belt, and battery-heated gloves.


Part of the fun of finding information on these topics is delving into more of the background of these famous people.  If you are interested in learning more about these people – or others like them, why not look into this: