Reuben Klamer

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Reuben Klamer
Born(1922-06-20)June 20, 1922
DiedSeptember 14, 2021(2021-09-14) (aged 99)
EducationGeorge Washington University, Ohio State University, University of Michigan
Known forCreating and co-designer of The Game of Life board game for Milton Bradley

Reuben Klamer (June 20, 1922 – September 14, 2021) was an American designer, developer, inventor, entrepreneur, and sales and marketing executive,[1] best known for creating and designing the modern version of classic Milton Bradley (now Hasbro) board game The Game of Life.[2]

The Game of Life was marketed in 59 countries and translated in 26 languages. It is estimated that 70 million copies have been sold, and it is the second most popular board game only to Monopoly.[1]

Although best known for his work in the toy and gaming industries, Klamer held credits in numerous diverse industries including textiles, plastics, aviation, publishing, music television and film.[1]

Early life[edit]

Klamer was born in 1922 in Canton, Ohio, to Romanian Jewish emigrants Joseph Klamer and Rachel Levenson.[3] He studied ancient and modern history at George Washington University in Washington D.C. and earned a Bachelor of Science in marketing from Ohio State University. He completed postgraduate work in engineering at the University of Michigan.[2]

He enlisted in the U.S. Navy midshipman school at Northwestern University in 1943 and served in the South Pacific.[citation needed]

Early career[edit]

Post WWII, he worked as a marketing developer for an air cargo company, designing his first invention for air freight travel before starting his own advertising agency, The Klamer Company

Toys and gaming industry[edit]

Klamer's career started with the Ideal Toy Company in 1949. He created the Art Linkletter Spin-A-Hoop (to compete with the Wham-O hula hoop), Gaylord the Walking Dog, and Busy Blocks. He also created the Fisher-Price Preschool Trainer Skates.[4]


Klamer was approached by the producers of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. to design a special weapon for the show's secret agents.[5] He produced a toy version for Ideal.

Impressed with Klamer's work, and under pressure from network executives to make his show more "action packed," Star Trek producer Gene Roddenberry enlisted Klamer to design "a really big gun." He built the phaser rifle used in the episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before."[citation needed]

He created the Pink Panther Travelling Show Car, build on an oldsmobile chassis for the Pink Panther Cartoon Series[1]

The Game of Life[edit]

In June 1959, Klamer pitched an art center concept to Milton Bradley that featured their crayons and finger paints. The company declined, but Milton Bradley president James Shea, Sr. asked Klamer to develop a game in celebration of the hundredth anniversary of Milton Bradley Company. After months of development, Klamer unveiled The Game of Life at the 1960 American International Toy Fair in the Milton Bradley showroom. Spurred by the endorsement of TV personality Art Linkletter, the game went on to sell more than fifty million copies.[6]


Klamer died on September 14, 2021, at the age of 99.[1][7]

Awards and honors[edit]


Association Year Award
Hasbro 2000 Hasbro Inventors Hall of Fame
Toy Industry Hall of Fame 2005 Inductee
TAGIE Award 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award
State Government 2003 OHIO Citizen of Honour
Ohio State University 2011 Fisher College of Business Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship
Fisher College of Business 2012 Dean's Distinguished Fellowship Award
OSU 's Science and TechnologyInsights 2019 Great Ohio State Inventor


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Reuben Klamer, Toy Industry Icon and Inventor of The Game of Life, has Reluctantly Left this World at 99".
  2. ^ a b Erik, Arneson. "Interview with Reuben Klamer - Creator of the Game of Life". Archived from the original on April 4, 2011. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  3. ^ "At 90, he's still in Game of Life". The Blade.
  4. ^ Wartenburg, Steve Inventor of games and gizmos returns to OSU to inspire future entrepreneurs The Columbus Dispatch
  5. ^ pp. 14-20 Polizzi, R., Schaefer, F. & Stevenson, W. Those Crazy Toys from U.N.C.L.E. Spin Again (1992, Summer)
  6. ^ "Reuben Klamer". PGPedia. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  7. ^ Reuben Klamer, Creator of The Game of Life, Dies at 99

External links[edit]