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Inventor of Twister dies at 82

Charles Foley originally called the game ‘Pretzel’.

Image: Key Foster via Flickr

THE MAN WHO invented Twister – and gave thousands of awkward teenagers their first contact with the opposite sex – has died aged 82.

Charles “Chuck” Foley, a father of nine, passed away on July 1 at a care facility in Minneapolis. His son, Mark Foley, said yesterday that his father had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Foley and a collaborator, Neil Rabens, were hired in the mid-1960s by a St Paul manufacturing firm that wanted to expand into games and toys.

“Dad wanted to make a game that could light up a party,” Mark Foley said. “They originally called it ‘Pretzel.’ But they sold it to Milton Bradley, which came up with the ‘Twister’ name.”

The game became a sensation after Johnny Carson and Eva Gabor played it on “The Tonight Show” in 1966.

To be sure, the game got plenty of innocent play, too, becoming popular in grade schools and at children’s parties. But its popularity among teens and young adults was owed to an undeniable sex appeal.

Players would become tangled up, and various body parts — male and female — would inevitably come into close and embarrassing proximity. Players would often lose their balance and fall on top of each other in a heap.

Even Piers Morgan played Twister, and lost. (Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive)

Hasbro Inc, which now manufacturers the game, said it continues to be a top seller:

What makes the Twister game timeless is the fact that it’s always been about showing off your free spirit and just having some laugh-out-loud, out-of-your-seat fun.

Mark Foley said his father made little money from Twister but that never seemed to bother him much. The game was not his first invention, and far from his last.

“He never stopped having fun,” Mark Foley said. “He tried to think like young people thought. He never wanted to grow up, and he always maintained his enthusiasm for seeing things through the eyes of a child.”

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