Edward L. Cohen, 89; invented many gadgets

Posted: July 13, 2006

Edward L. Cohen, 89, of Voorhees, the founder of Edwards Creative Products, who invented more than a hundred gadgets, including the Magic Wand stick spot cleaner, died of heart failure Tuesday at home.

Mr. Cohen took everyday problems and turned them into ideas for inventions he created in his Cherry Hill basement.

For him, the residue on the bottom of a wet bar of soap was more than just a nuisance. It was inspiration. The result: Mr. Cohen's No Goo Soap Dish.

In more than 50 years, Mr. Cohen developed products to handle drooping bow ties, stains, yellowing dentures and belt storage. Many appeared in the Spencer Gifts catalog.

"He took the common annoyances and figured if he was having problems, other people were as having them as well," said his daughter, Andrea Malamut.

The problem-solver in Mr. Cohen surfaced at an early age. He was a little boy when he attached two lenses to a potato to create what he called a potatoscope. He was a teenager when he saw a drooping bow tie on a bus driver and invented a clip to keep it in place.

After graduating from Gloucester High School in 1935, he worked in sheet metal at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. He drew a comic strip, Bilgy, for the yard's newspaper.

He served stateside in World War II, then became a Fuller Brush salesman. In 1954, he decided to start his company, focusing first on household products. His raw materials were often found in his home.

"My mother would look up and say, 'Where's my turkey baster?' " Malamut said.

Mr. Cohen's breakthrough product was the Handee Belt Ring, a circular device used to store belts in a closet. Its success funded the opening of Mr. Cohen's first factory in Cherry Hill. Other products included eyeglasses equipped with a mirror so wearers could style the hair at the back of their head, and the Press N' Print, a copying machine that operated without electricity and was used in the Peace Corps.

Cohen products were featured in segments on the Jack Paar and Johnny Carson shows. Mr. Cohen was the subject of a feature on Comedy Central's The Daily Show.

He retired in 1978 and moved to Deerfield Beach, Fla. He turned the business over to his son, Chuck, but continued to develop ideas, sometimes sending notes scribbled on napkins to his son.

Mr. Cohen and his wife, Leona Zubrow Cohen, returned to the area four years ago.

In addition to his wife, daughter and son, Mr. Cohen is survived by two sisters, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Friends may call after 10:30 a.m. today at Platt Memorial Chapels Inc., 2001 Berlin Rd., Cherry Hill, where services will begin at 11 a.m. Burial is at Har Nebo Cemetery, Philadelphia.

Memorial donations may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes and Research Foundation, 1415 Route 70 E., Suite 502, Cherry Hill, N.J. 08034.

Contact staff writer Kristin E. Holmes at 215-854-2791 or kholmes@phillynews.com.

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