Morrison was the son of Dr. Walter F. Morrison, an optometrist practicing in Richfield, UT and a distant cousin of Marion Morrison, AKA John Wayne. Morrison claimed that the original idea for a flying disc toy came to him in 1937, while throwing a popcorn can lid with his girlfriend, Lucile Eleanor "Lu" Nay (1920–1987), whom he later married on April 3, 1939 in Los Angeles, California. The popcorn can lid soon dented which led to the discovery that cake pans flew better and were more common. A year later, Morrison and Lu were offered 25 cents for a cake pan that they were tossing back and forth on a Santa Monica, California beach. Morrison detailed, in a 2007 interview, "That got the wheels turning, because you could buy a cake pan for five cents, and if people on the beach were willing to pay a quarter for it, well—there was a business." Morrison and Lu developed a little business selling "Flyin' Cake Pans" on the beaches of Los Angeles.
In 1946, Morrison sketched out a design (called the Whirlo-Way) for the world's first flying disc. In 1948 an investor, Warren Franscioni, paid for molding the design in plastic. They named it the Flyin-Saucer. After disappointing sales, Fred and Warren parted ways in early 1950. In 1954, Fred bought more of the Saucers from the original molders to sell at local fairs, but soon found he could produce his own disc more cheaply. In 1955, he and Lu designed the Pluto Platter, the archetype of all modern flying discs. On January 23, 1957, they sold the rights for the Pluto Platter to the Wham-O toy company. Initially Wham-O continued to market the toy solely as the "Pluto Platter", but by June 1957 they also began using the name Frisbee after learning that college students in the Northeast were calling the Pluto Platter by that name. Morrison also invented several other products for Wham-O, but none were as successful as the Pluto Platter.
Morrison and his wife, Lucile Nay Morrison, had a son and two daughters. After divorcing in March 1969 they remarried on April 3, 1971 then soon divorced again. Lucile died in 1987. Morrison died in his home at the age of 90 on February 9, 2010.
Flat Flip Flies Straight, True Origins of the Frisbee, Phil Kennedy, Co-Author, Wormhole Publishers, Wethersfield, CT, 2006
- Arave, Lynn (2010-02-10). "Frisbee creator Fred Morrison dies". Deseret News. Archived from the original on 2010-02-15. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
- Alden, Doug (2010-02-11). "Frisbee inventor dies at 90". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-02-14.[dead link]
- Fox, Margalit (2010-02-13). "Fred Morrison, Creator of a Popular Flying Plate, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-14.
- McLellan, Dennis (2010-02-13). "Walter Fredrick Morrison dies at 90; father of the Frisbee". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-02-14.
- Kennedy, Phil (2014). "The History of the Frisbee" (PDF). Wormhole Publishers. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
- Swift, Earl (2007-05-27). "50 years later, Frisbee still flying high". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 2019-01-22.
- Staff writers (2010-02-12). "Fred Morrison". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
- Gilgoff, Dan (2010-02-12). "Frisbee inventor dies at 90". CNN. Retrieved 2019-01-21.
- Fred Morrison – Daily Telegraph obituary