At 102 years old, toy inventor Eddy Goldfarb is still going like freshly wound Yakity-Yak Talking Teeth, one of his more than 800 creations. Goldfarb also dreamed up the Bubble Gun, battery-powered Stomper vehicles and KerPlunk, in which hopeful players hold their breath as they strategically remove sticks without disturbing the marbles above.
“Being active and being creative is my secret, and I think it could apply to a lot of people,” the Toy Industry Hall of Fame inductee says in an interview before singing the praises of his pair of 3D printers. “That’s the most wonderful machine because you start with nothing, and it goes layer by layer by layer and builds something.”
The Chicago native still creates in his garage workshop and is the focus of “Eddy’s World,” a short documentary airing Saturday (check local listings) on PBS and streaming on the PBS app. The 28-minute film is directed by his daughter, Lyn Goldfarb.
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Goldfarb knew he was going to be a creator at 5, when his father invited an inventor to dinner. “That’s when I learned the meaning of the word,” he says, “and I knew from then on that I was going to be in an inventor.”
The aspiring designer couldn’t afford college and enlisted in the Navy during World War II. He conceived the ideas for his first three toys while serving on the USS Batfish.
“I had no money to go into anything too technical, and I realized that the toy industry needed new toys every year,” Goldfarb says.
Following the war, Goldfarb returned to Chicago, where he met his wife, Anita, one Saturday.
“We danced the whole evening, and I went to see her on Sunday and proposed,” Goldfarb remembers. It was love at first sight. “I just took one look at her, and I knew this was it.”
Nine months later, they wed on Oct. 18, 1947. The newlyweds struck a deal that Anita would support the couple for at least two years while Goldfarb focused on his inventions. The pair, who were married until Anita’s death in 2013, share three children: Lyn, Fran, and Martin. The latter Goldfarb works with Eddy on his designs today.
Goldfarb feels “very lucky” to still be alive at his age. He attributes his longevity to being creative and his optimistic, laid-back personality.
“During the war, I was on the submarine and saw a lot of action, and I think I realized what’s important and what’s not,” he says. “I found out that most things aren’t that important. I can overlook a lot.”
What’s next for the centenarian? He’d fancy another milestone birthday.
“Oh, I’d like to turn 105,” he says. “I’m fortunate that I’m healthy. I don’t have any of the aches and pains that I heard about all my life. So life is worth living, absolutely worth living. At 105, we’ll start thinking about what we should do.”
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