Joseph Lowenbach Steiner, 95, a co-founder of Kenner Products Co., which made such popular toys as Play-Doh, died Saturday in suburban Cincinnati after a heart attack.
Steiner and his brothers Albert and Philip were in the soap and soft drink business in the Ohio River city in 1947 when Albert saw a boy waving a bubble wand through a soap solution, sending bubbles into the air. The brothers decided to invent a gun that would shoot bubbles--a product called the Bubble Rocket, which sold more than 1 million units in 1949.
They named the new toy company Kenner Products for the Cincinnati street on which their offices were located.
Kenner, one of the first sponsors of the “Captain Kangaroo Show,” was advertising its products on national television by 1958. Among the other popular toys marketed by Kenner, now a part of Hasbro Inc., were the Easy-Bake Oven, Baby Alive, “Six Million Dollar Man” and “Star Wars” action figures.
The Steiners sold the company to General Mills in 1967, and Joseph Steiner retired four years later. Two years ago, Hasbro closed the original Kenner facilities, which once employed 2,500 people.