Celebrity Invention: Lawrence Welk's Accordian-Shaped Ashtray

celebrityinvention.jpgSome celebrities aren't just pretty faces. A few of them are also touched with that Yankee prowess for tinkering and invention. In this weekly series, we introduce you to the Patents of the Rich and Famous. And maybe you learn a little bit about how patent literature works along the way.

Inventor: Lawrence Welk

Known For: Some of you might remember Lawrence Welk as the face of his variety show, The Lawrence Welk Show, which ran for almost 30 years. Having started his career as a musician, Welk often performed with the show's guests, and reserved one number for his own accordion solo.

Since his show went off-air almost thirty years ago, our younger readers likely recognize Welk (or the idea of Welk) from Fred Armisen's impersonation in this Saturday Night Live parody of his variety show.

Along with maintaining an old-school--but popular--variety show, Welk extended his brand, patenting various Welk-themed paraphernalia.

Invented Apparatus: "Ashtray"

ashtrayEDIT.jpgWelk patented the design for this kitschy accordion shaped ashtray.

Rationale Behind Invention: Like any good showman, Welk understood the necessity to monetize his brand. Along with his ashtray, Welk also holds design patents for an accordion-themed lunch box and a Welk-themed menu card with a rooster singing "authorized to serve the famous Lawrence Welk."

Off-Label Uses: Can you play the keys? If so, tiny-handed Eunice (Kristen Wiig) should play Welk's ashtray during her next SNL appearance.

Future Directions: If the ashtray does not yet have working keys, it should.

Peruse more Celebrity Inventions.

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Rebecca Greenfield is a former staff writer at The Wire.

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