Seller of sea monkeys is dead

Posted by ESC on December 22, 2003

December 21, 2003
New York Times online
Accessed December 22, 2003.

Harold von Braunhut, Seller of Sea Monkeys, Dies at 77
Harold von Braunhut, who used comic book advertisements to sell whimsical mail-order inventions like Amazing Sea Monkeys, tiny shrimp that pop to life when water is added, died on Nov. 28 at his home in Indian Head, Md. He was 77.

His wife, Yolanda, said that he died after a fall but that the exact cause was not known.

Mr. von Braunhut was to quirky inventions what Barnum was to circuses. His X-Ray Specs, which advertisements said allowed wearers to see through flesh and clothing, are still selling after 50 years of guffaws. Hermit crabs as a pet? Thank Mr. von Braunhut for Crazy Crabs.

And yes, perhaps only this verbally snappy holder of 195 patents could have realized that what the world needed was Amazing Hair-Raising Monsters, which allow a child to add water to a card and watch hair grow on the previously bald pate of the monster depicted there.

But Mr. von Braunhut's pièce de résistance was Sea Monkeys - which come from dried-up lake bottoms, not the sea, and are not monkeys but brine shrimp...