‘Eddy’s World’ Documents the Inspirational Story of a Legendary Toymaker

January 8, 2021

The chattering wind-up Yakity Yak teeth that made you giggle as a kid and iconic playthings like Stompers, KerPlunk, Baby Beans, Bubble Gun, Shark Attack! and over 800 other iconic toys all come from the very inventive mind of one man: Eddy Goldfarb, now the subject of the short documentary “Eddy’s World.” Lovingly made by his daughter, Lyn Goldfarb, an Oscar nominee for “With Babies and Banners,” the film is a tribute to the nonagenarian inventor’s creativity, optimism, vibrancy and longevity.

As a documentary filmmaker I’ve always looked for interesting stories and people who have changed the world around them. One day I realized my dad is that way as well,” Lyn Goldfarb said in a Zoom interview with her father and producer Jannat Gargi. “I’ve always respected him for his work, but I never thought of him as a subject. I was doing a family legacy project and started interviewing him, and as soon as he started talking and telling stories I realized this could be a film. One of the great things about it was the time we got to spend together,” she added. “Getting to observe him and see the world through his eyes was one of the most incredible experiences. I feel very lucky to have spent this time together.”

The son of Polish and Romanian immigrants who was born in Chicago in 1921, Eddy (né Adolph) Goldfarb set on his career path early, from the time his tailor father brought home a broken radio and he took it apart and fixed it. “From then I knew it was what I was going to do. I was interested in a lot of things but I realized in order to be a successful inventor I had to specialize,” he said.

Enlisting in the U.S. Navy after Pearl Harbor, he was trained as a radar technician and served in the Pacific in World War II aboard the submarine Batfish, where he began sketching ideas for toys. The first three toys he designed—Yakity Yak Talking Teeth, Busy Biddy Chicken, and Merry-Go-Slip—sold at the Toy Association’s Toy Fair in 1949, launching the career that would entertain generations of children.

“When I was a kid, my dad had a shop and went to work every day, but he brought toys home” to her and her siblings Martin and Fran. “We tested them and played with them.” Lyn Goldfarb said. “He had a locked room where all the ideas were.”

He credits his late wife Anita, to whom he was married for almost 65 years and who supported them while he worked on inventions, as integral in his success. She shares many of his nearly 300 patents. “She was always part of it. She backed me right from the beginning,” Goldfarb said. “She had faith in me. She was always involved, while she was raising a family and going to school. Nothing would have happened without her.”

Today, Eddy is 99 and living in a Southern California retirement community, where he has lots of friends and walks for exercise around the neighborhood and on a treadmill. “When you do creative work, it helps keep your body healthy,” he says in the documentary, later crediting his longevity and vibrancy to “good genes. I was born lucky.” He also participates in activities including a writing workshop, and continues to invent new toys in his garage, collaborating on some with his son Martin.

During production, “My father was always busy, always working on another toy. Getting him to give us the time for the interviews and b-roll was the biggest challenge,” Lyn said.

My father was always busy, always working on another toy. Getting him to give us the time for the interviews and b-roll was the biggest challenge”—Lyn Goldfarb

She’s continuing to collaborate with her father on a new project, a book that will feature a collection of 100 of his 100-word stories that will come out for his 100th birthday, Sept. 5. She also thinks there may be another documentary in stories about Eddy’s experiences, his service in World War II in particular.

The film, now playing for free on You Tube, has been submitted for consideration in the Best Short Documentary category for the Academy Awards, and to Jannat Gargi, its thousands of views indicate that there’s an appetite for feel-good films. “In these crazy times we’re living in, I’m just so happy to see something uplifting and inspiring and hopeful.”

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