What do you see when you picture an inventor? For most people, the picture that comes to mind is a wacky, grey-haired dude resembling Einstein or Doc Brown, but not many people picture rock and roll god like Eddie Van Halen was.
Well, believe it or not, the man who brought you “Eruption”, as well as many other iconic guitar solos, was also an inventor, but he was hardly the only celebrity to ever file for a patent.
Today, we’re going to talk to you about all the famous celebrities who were also great inventors, and we’re going to start with none other but Eddie Van Halen.
1. Eddie Van Halen
Everyone knows that no one in this world could tap the guitar like Eddie could even if they tried, but there was also another thing that made it possible for Eddie to play like he did. As you could imagine, using both hands to tap all over the guitar’s neck would’ve been impossible unless you had a third arm holding the guitar in place, which is why Eddie thought of a support stabilizer to keep his guitar in place while he shredded solo after solo. He received a patent for his invention back in ’85, and from that day on, Eddie wasn’t just a guitar god – he was also an inventor.
2. Michael Jackson
Here we have another music legend, and this time it’s none other than the King of Pop himself – Michael Jackson. Michael was famous for many things, and one of his most recognizable talents was his dancing. His “moonwalk” is still one of the best moves one could do on a dance floor. However, Michael didn’t become an inventor by coming up with a new dance move, although this invention is closely related to another of his iconic dance moves.
Namely, while filming the video for his ’87 multi-platinum hit “Smooth Criminal“, Michael leans forward at an impossible angle, and he does that with the help of cables and harnesses – as one does. However, the movie became so popular that everyone wanted MJ to do it on the stage – which he ultimately did. Naturally, he couldn’t hook and unhook mid-show, so he and a couple of his buddies came up with an interesting concept that involved a shoe and a hitch. Basically, Michael would grapple the hitch with the heel of his shoe, which would allow him to do his iconic lean right on the stage.
3. Marlon Brando
Let’s stick with another musician, only this time we’re not looking at a singer or a guitar player – we’re looking at a drummer. You might also recognize him from his iconic role as Don Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather”. Yes, we’re talking about the legendary Marlon Brando, who was also a pretty neat drummer.
During his life, Brando worked on patenting a new tuning system for a conga drum. As you might know, a conga drum is tuned with five or six screws at the top, but Brando wanted to make the process easier and have this new and improved conga drum tuned with only a single crank at the bottom. In the early 2000s, Brando did receive four patents for his tuning system, but unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough to ever see his invention come to life.
4. Hedy Lamarr
Hedy Lamarr lived a pretty turbulent life, even for an actress. She was a Hollywood royalty at one point, she was married to an international arms dealer before she came to Hollywood, and sometimes in the early 1940s, Hedy and her friend, George Antheil, came up with an ingenious system that would control radio frequencies which could help control and navigate torpedoes. Now, seeing how Hedy didn’t quite have access to any company that could help her back in the day, her brilliant invention didn’t quite see the light of day, nor was it ever used by anyone at that time.
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It took more than 40 years for Hedy to receive her accolades for the invention that we nowadays know as spread-spectrum technology, and seeing how this invention actually helped shape the future in a really big way, we guess you could say that Hedy is one of the biggest inventors from all the celebrities that have ever held a patent to their name.
5. Francis Ford Coppola
Apart from working with one of the inventors and directing what many consider to be the best movie ever made, Francis Ford Coppola was also somewhat of an inventor. To be fair, compared to Lamarr’s invention, Coppola’s might seem like a gimmick, but give it a chance.
So, have you ever had an itch that you couldn’t scratch by yourself? Yes, the one on your back that is impossible to both reach and explain the location off to the person that’s willing to scratch it for you. Well, Coppola’s solution to this common problem was a t-shirt with a turtle shell on its back. Each section of the shell was assigned a number, so you could easily explain the location of your itch to the person that’s trying to help you. And yes, he did receive a patent for it.
6. James Cameron
James Cameron might just be one of the most prolific filmmakers of all time, but the man that brought us “Titanic”, “Terminator”, and “Avatar” is also quite an inventor. Not only did he design a submarine to allow him to take a peek at the bottom of the ocean, but he also designed and patented an “apparatus for propelling a user in an underwater environment”, among many other things.
An “apparatus” is essentially an underwater dolly with some propellers on the side that allows cameramen to easily navigate and operate the camera under the water, which is exactly what Cameron and his crew did in 1989 when they filmed “The Abyss” using this patented contraption.
Believe it or not, these six aren’t the only famous people that invented stuff. Steve McQueen, Bill Nye, Prince and many others also hold several patents to their name, but we just thought that these six were the most interesting ones.