Trivial Pursuit Photojournalist Co-creator Chris Haney Dead at 59

By: E&P Staff

Former newspaper photo editor Chris Haney, a co-creator of the Trivial Pursuit game, died May 31 in a Toronto hospital after a long illness, The Canadian Press reported. He was 59.

Haney was the Montreal Gazette photo editor when he and Canadian Press sports journalist Scott Abbott thought up the game that became a success in several versions.

Haney, who also had worked for The Canadian Press, met Abbott after arriving in Montreal in December 1975 to co-ordinate the agency’s photo coverage of the 1976 Summer Olympics. The two quickly struck up a friendship that lasted 34 years, according to Abbott.

Trivial Pursuit made them millionaires. Devised while conversing during a game of Scrabble, the game hit stores in 1982. Hasbro bought the rights two years ago for $80 million – but not before two unsuccessful lawsuits.

Initial financing came from colleagues. One who didn’t invest, fellow photojournalist Doug Ball, was unwilling to risk $1,000 when he was starting a family. “I thought he just wanted the money for a beer,” Ball told the CP. Later, however, using his earnings to build golf courses, Haney enlisted fellow golfer Ball in the projects.

Abbott described his partner as no “scholar in the conventional sense,” recalling Haney saying, “I quit school in Grade 12. It was the biggest mistake I ever made. I should have done it in Grade 10.” Nevertheless, he called his friend “one of the most knowledgeable, widely read people” he’d met, especially when it came to the news.

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