Inventor Celebrities: These “Stars” Can Claim to Be Technologists

Screenshot from the "Smooth Criminal" video by Michael Jackson.

Screenshot from the “Smooth Criminal” video by Michael Jackson.

Celebrities are rarely associated with intellectual brilliance. “Inventors” are hardly considered as a word that can be related to actors, musicians, and celebrities. However, there really are inventor celebrities. They even hold patents for their inventions. The following list proves how you should not be underestimating the mental capabilities of men and women in the entertainment industry.

Marlon Brando

This Oscar-winning American actor is not just a cultural icon. He was also an inventor. He created a drumhead tensioning method and device that makes it possible to tune a drum.

Harry Connick, Jr.

A singer, pianist, composer, and actor, Harry Connick, Jr. may be remembered by many as Dr. Leo Markus from the sitcom Will & Grace. He’s more than just an actor and musician, though, as he also holds a patent for a system and method of coordinating music display for members in an orchestra. He created an electronic system that can replace paper music sheets and regularly used it when playing music with his big band

Michael Jackson

Yes, the king of pop can also rightfully claim to be an inventor as he regularly figures in lists of celebrity patents. The “Thriller” singer may thrill you more with his anti-gravity illusion device. He used this device in his famous “Smooth Criminal” music video.

Hedy Lamarr

By Studio (eBay) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Studio (eBay) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This beautiful Austrian actress was also an inventor. He was a co-inventor for a technique that can be used in spread spectrum communication and frequency hopping. This invention is believed to be one of the precursors of modern wireless communications. She was honored at the 1997 Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Awards, along with co-inventor George Antheil, for the “trail-blazing development of a technology that has become a key component of wireless data systems.”

James Cameron

The “Titanic” and “Avatar” director is famous for his works in the entertainment industry. It’s amazing enough that the is responsible for helming the top 2 highest earning movies of all time. You’d realize he’s even more amazing as he has the knack for inventing new devices or systems to use in his filmmaking needs. He holds a patent for an apparatus that propels a person underwater. He also designed a submersible vehicle that can take him to extreme depths of the ocean.


Or what’s his new name again? Yes, that extremely eccentric Prince who also wanted to be known as “The Purple One,” “Joey Coco,” and “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” is also an inventor. He owns a patent for a portable electronic keyboard with two pitchfork-type spikes, something you’d probably like to call a “keytar” (keyboard guitar).

Steven Spielberg

James Cameron is not the only famous director who deserves to be included on this list. The popular Steven Spielberg is also credited as one of the inventors of a camera dolly switch. He also owns a patent for a method and apparatus for document annotation, which enables the editing of digital documents from anywhere.

Steve McQueen

“The King of Cool” was well-loved with his anti-hero persona. He was also the owner of patent number D219584, a patent for a bucket seat shell created to make driving more comfortable.

Eddie Van Halen

The “Jump” hitmaker is famous for his two-handed tapping technique when using his guitar. It’s not an easy technique but Eddie Van Halen created something to get around with the difficulty.  He created a musical instrument support device that can stabilize the fretboard to make it easier tapping out songs in his signature sound.

Paul Winchell

The face and the voice of The Paul Winchell Show, this American ventriloquist, voice actor, and comedian during the 50’s and 60’s was also an inventor. He is listed as an inventor for a long list of devices. These include a tandem sifter for flour and other powdery products, a warning indicator for interrupted power supply, a device for filling blood containers, a retractable fountain pen, a multi-track record guideway selector, an electrical heater for containers, a device and method for speeding up the pouring of sugar and other similar ingredients, a non-bulging garter fastener, and a hand pump for moving liquids from one container to another.

Moreover, with the assistance of Dr. Henry Heimlich (also an inventor), Winchell invented an artificial heart whose patent was cited as the prior art that prevented University of Utah developers from patenting the artificial heart they invented. How cool is that! Even better, Winchell, upon the request of the University of Utah inventors, donated his heart invention for it to become more useful and further developed. Winchell might as well claim to be one of the pioneers or forerunners of embeddable technology.

By rick proser (wick proser's work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By rick proser (wick proser’s work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Think what you may about celebrities and people from the entertainment industry but you can’t deny how brilliant minds also flourish in an industry perceived by many as nothing but brainless glitz and glamor.