Marion Donovan, Trevor Noah And Disposable Diapers: Shafted!

Last Mother’s Day, “06880” gave a shout-out to Marion Donovan.

In 1949, the Westport mother invented the moisture-proof diaper. Two years later, she went a step further, creating the disposable diaper.

It took 10 months, but Trevor Noah finally got around to acknowledging this Mother of Invention.

The other day, the “Daily Show” featured our hometown heroine on “Shafted.” That’s the segment that — to honor Women’s History Month — highlights women who have been (metaphorically) screwed by men.

Figuratively, of course.

Marion Donovan

In Donovan’s case, it was paper company executives. All men (surprise!), they told her that disposable diapers were “not necessary.”

A decade later, Donovan’s idea finally led to Pampers. They’re credited to Procter & Gamble, and a guy named Victor Mills.

The “Shafted” segment — hosted by the indomitable Desi Lydic and Dulce Sloan — mentions Westport about 50 seconds in.

Men may have dumped all over Marion Donovan. But she went on to earn 20 patents. They include a hanger that holds 30 garments in a tight space; a wire soap holder that drains directly into the basin; an elastic zipper allowing women to zip up the back of a dress by pulling down from the front, and the Dentaloop (it prevents floss users from cutting off circulation in their fingers).

Not all those inventions were made in Westport. At some point she moved to Greenwich — where Donovan, who (of course!) earned an architecture degree from Yale at age 41, designed her own house.

Donovan died in 1998, at 81. In 2015 she was inducted posthumously into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Anyone who has changed a diaper since 1951 owes huge thanks to Marion Donovan.

No sh–.

(Hat tip: Brian Gold)

4 responses to “Marion Donovan, Trevor Noah And Disposable Diapers: Shafted!

  1. But the environment and the generations that will suffer its deterioration owe her no thanks at all.

  2. A fascinating woman whose story deserves more than the puerile Daily Show segment. I wonder if the house Marion designed in Greenwich is extant.

  3. Wouldn’t it be a good Idea for the historical society to do an exhibit of her 30 patents and building design work along with a lecture on her accomplishments for an annual celebrating women’s month in Westport. (Question- do the towns elementary schools do field trips to the historical society exhibits?)

    • Love that idea, Mark. Maybe WHS could consider an exhibit on Westport women who managed to break into fields traditionally dominated by men. It could include pioneering broadcaster, journalist, author and lifelong anti-Nazi crusader, Sigrid Schultz – the first female bureau chief and a woman so fearless, the Nazi’s called her “The Dragon Lady”. When she died in the early 80’s the town quickly bulldozed her house at 35 Elm with everything in it. While she left all the money she had to fund a scholarship for journalism students, as near as anyone can work out, she doesn’t even have the dignity of a grave marker.