Frederick P. Ott

American mechanic

Fred Ott was one of Thomas Edison's laboratory team working on the Kinetoscope as well as the Phonograph and other projects. Such men included W.K-L. Dickson, Charles Brown, Charles Batchelor, Fred and his older brother John. The ebullient Fred Ott was the joker among them, and when the Inventor was approached by journalist Burton Phillips of Harper's Weekly requesting 'some nice looking person' to perform a sneeze for the Kinetograph that might be used to illustrate an article, the moustachioed Ott was the unlikely but willing choice. Dickson and William Heise took the film in the first week of January 1894 and had it copyrighted as a photograph at the Library of Congress on 9 January 1894 under the title Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze. At such a short length the film was not intended for the Kinetoscope but purely as a one-off for publicity purposes. The film, or rather the image of Fred Ott's sneeze, became famous, and in later years Ott was happy to claim that he was the first ever 'film star', which in a way was true.

Luke McKernan