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Andre Cassagnes, inventor of the Etch A Sketch, dies at 86

FILE - This undated photo provided by Ohio Art shows a classic Etch A Sketch which was introduced in 1960. The Ohio Art Co., based in Bryan, Ohio, says 86-year-old Andre Cassagnes, the inventor of the Etch A Sketch, died Jan. 16, 2013, in a Paris suburb. The cause wasn’t disclosed Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Ohio Art, File) NY114

Associated Press

FILE - This undated photo provided by Ohio Art shows a classic Etch A Sketch which was introduced in 1960. The Ohio Art Co., based in Bryan, Ohio, says 86-year-old Andre Cassagnes, the inventor of the Etch A Sketch, died Jan. 16, 2013, in a Paris suburb. The cause wasn’t disclosed Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Ohio Art, File) NY114

Andre Cassagnes, the inventor of the Etch A Sketch toy that generations of children drew on, shook up and started over, has died in France, the toy's maker said.

Mr. Cassagnes died Jan. 16 in a Paris suburb at age 86, said the Ohio Art Co., based in Bryan in northwest Ohio. The cause wasn't disclosed Saturday.

"Etch A Sketch has brought much success to the Ohio Art Company, and we will be eternally grateful to Andre for that. His invention brought joy to so many over such a long period of time," said Larry Killgallon, president of Ohio Art.

Then an electrical technician, Mr. Cassagnes came upon the Etch A Sketch idea in the late 1950s when he peeled a translucent decal from a light switch plate and found pencil mark images transferred to the opposite face, the Toy Industry Association said.

Ohio Art saw his idea at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in 1959. The toy, with its gray screen, red frame and two white knobs that are twisted back and forth to create drawings, was launched in 1960 and became the top seller that holiday season. More than 100 million have been sold worldwide since.

Though passed over in popularity for video games and gadgets, the toy has a steady market, the company has said. It got a big jump in sales after Etch A Sketch was featured in the first two Toy Story movies, and Ohio Art capitalized on a much-publicized gaffe by a Mitt Romney aide during last year's presidential election, who was asked about his candidate's views during the primary season versus the general election.

He likened the campaign to an Etch A Sketch: "You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again."

Democrats and Republicans alike seized on the remark as evidence that Romney was willing to change his positions for political gain. And Ohio Art seized on the publicity, creating a politically themed ad campaign and manufacturing blue versions of the famously red toy.

• • •

Max Kampelman, 92, a U.S. diplomat enlisted by Democratic and Republican presidents to negotiate Cold War treaties with the Soviet Union on nuclear weapons and human rights, died of congestive heart failure on Jan. 25 in Washington. He also was a founder and moderator of Washington Week in Review (now Washington Week) on PBS.

Dolours Price, 61, an unrepentant former member of the Irish Republican Army who went to prison for a 1973 London bombing and who recently shook Northern Ireland's fragile calm by claiming that her orders had come from Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein party leader and peace negotiator who denies having ever been in the IRA, died on Jan. 24 in Dublin suburb. Adams has denied her accusations.

Dave Purchase, 73, a bearded biker who 24 years ago began handing out sterile syringes to prevent AIDS among drug addicts on the streets of Tacoma, Wash., and went on to become a national leader of the needle-exchange movement, died of pneumonia on Jan. 21 in Tacoma.

A.W. Clausen, 89, who rose from a part-time position counting cash to become chief executive of Bank of America and to lead the World Bank in the 1980s, died of pneumonia on Jan. 22 in Burlingame, Calif.

Jean-Leon Destine, 94, a Haitian dancer and choreographer who brought his country's traditional music and dance to concert stages around the world, died on Jan. 22 in New York.

Andre Cassagnes, inventor of the Etch A Sketch, dies at 86 02/02/13 [Last modified: Saturday, February 2, 2013 10:45pm]

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