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Reuben B. Klamer (20 June 192214 September 2021; age 99) was a renowned toy designer and manufacturer who designed and built the iconic original phaser rifle that was featured in the Star Trek: The Original Series' second pilot episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before".

Klamer was contacted by Gene Roddenberry in 1965 for the design and the subsequent build of the original phaser rifle in June/July of that year, aided by his employee Ab Kander. (Julien's Auctions presents: Star Trek) Used only once, the rifle prop was upon completion of the episode returned to Klamer. Yet, almost eight months went by before the series was green-lighted, and in a letter dated 16 March 1966, Klamer was approached by Roddenberry for possible further prop assignments, though, in the end, that never came to fruition. Klamer however, has never received any official credit for his contribution.

Ultimately, Reuben Klamer was featured in the 2013 documentary short, Julien's Auctions presents: Star Trek, on the occasion of the auctioning off of his phaser rifle.

Career

Born to Romanian immigrants in Canton, Ohio in 1922 into a Depression-era middle class family, Klamer nevertheless excelled at studies, graduating in ancient and modern history at George Washington University with an additional BS marketing degree from Ohio State University, and which he followed up with postgraduate work in engineering at the University of Michigan. World War II interrupted his career as he went on to graduate from the US Navy Midshipman School at Northwestern University in 1943, serving with distinction as a combat Navy officer in the the South Pacific theater afterwards.

After the war ended, he started his own advertising agency, went to work for Ideal Toy Company and then became an executive in Eldon Industries, where he pioneered in the use of unbreakable polyethylene plastic toys. In 1959, Klamer developed the product for which he is best known when he approached then president of game company Milton Bradley, James Shea, Sr., with a proposal for an art center concept. This proposal was turned down, but Klamer was asked instead to develop a game in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Milton Bradley Company. This resulted eventually in the celebrated 1960 board game, The Game of Life.

In the 1960s Klamer operated his own company, The Toy Development Center, Inc., which he founded in 1964. [1] While Klamer's primary work concerned the development of toys and games, he occasionally provided prop services to the motion picture industry. It was his build of a prop gun used in the television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. that eventually attracted the attention of Roddenberry.

During a brief hiatus in the 1970s Klamer developed and taught a course in Creative Technology for the University of Hawaii at his Creative Development Center in Kona. In a remarkable career spanning six decades, he is credited with more than two hundred game and toy products, including the classic Fisher-Price Preschool Trainer Skates introduced in 1984. Hasbro/Milton Bradley, Mattel/Fisher-Price, Tupperware, Coca-Cola, and Sears Roebuck & Co. were among Klamer's many former partners.

Despite having more than two hundred products to his name, it was predominantly The Game of Life for which he was most renowned, and which became part of the permanent "Archives of Family Life" at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. The toy and game industry showered Klamer with honors for this products, including the 2000 induction into the "Hasbro Inventor's Hall of Fame", the 2005 induction into the "Toy Industry Hall of Fame", and the 2009 "Lifetime Achievement Award" by the Toy and Game Inventor Expo, as well as becoming a "Citizen of Honor" in his native state of Ohio.

Klamer passed away at his home in La Jolla, California, on 14 September 2021, at the age of 99. [2]

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