We Have a Celeb's Great Grandfather to Thank for the Washing Machine

We Have a Celeb's Great Grandfather to Thank for the Washing Machine

Tara Bellucci
Aug 21, 2017

Where would we, as a society, be without the advent of the washing machine? Possibly down by the river, pounding our unmentionables on rocks or boiling them in a vat of lye and stirred with a big stick. Or something. Instead, modern cleaning machines do exist, and we have one celebrity's ancestors to thank for that.

Model and actress Kate Upton was on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last week and revealed a little slice of family history.

After Jimmy asks her when she felt she "made it," the three time Sports Illustrated cover model answers with a nugget that any of us who live in expensive, crowded cities can relate to:

"Anyone who lives in Manhattan knows— that when I got a unit with a washer and dryer in the apartment, I was like... I'm here. I can wash my socks in my apartment??"


Then Jimmy brings up that Upton has some family ties to the laundry biz. Her great grandfather Fred Upton and his brother Lou are credited with the invention of the modern washing machine.

(Image credit: Whirlpool via Buzzfeed)

Lou had invested in a business that was to manufacture household equipment, and when it failed, according to Whirlpool:

Upton was offered the opportunity to select something of value from the failed venture as a return on his investment. He chose the patents on a hand washing machine that he thought might be electrified. Lou Upton brought the patents and his innovative vision home to St. Joseph, Michigan. In 1911, Lou along with his uncle Emory and brother Fred joined together to produce motor-driven wringer washers as the Upton Machine Company.

Upton merged with New York based Nineteen Hundred Washer Company in 1929 to keep up with demand. Whirlpool was named as such in 1949, after its signature brand had taken off post-World War II, once production began again on washers (the factories produced aircraft parts during the war).

Fred's great granddaughter had this to say: "[He] made life easier for a lot of people, especially me."

Check out the interview below:

h/t Buzzfeed
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