Fact Check

Monkee Mike Nesmith and Liquid Paper

Did Monkee Mike Nesmith's mother invent Liquid Paper?

Published Feb. 14, 2000


Claim:   Monkee Mike Nesmith's mother was the inventor of Liquid Paper correction fluid.


Origins:   Bette Nesmith Graham

A guitar's all right Michael, but you'll never make your living by it
Bette Nesmith and young Michael

(she was divorced from Michael's father in 1946 and remarried in 1964) came up with the idea of using a small bottle of tempera waterbase paint to correct her typing errors while she was an executive secretary with Texas Bank & Trust in Dallas in 1951. She supplied bottles of the fluid to other secretaries at her workplace (under the name "Mistake Out") for several years; then, in 1956, she improved the formula, changed its name to "Liquid Paper," and set out to trademark the name and patent her product. After IBM passed on her offer to sell Liquid Paper to them, Bette started marketing the product on her own. Liquid Paper, Inc., did not become profitable for several years, and it was not until the mid-1960s that Liquid Paper correction fluid began to generate substantial income for its inventor.

Liquid Paper was sold to the Gillette Corporation in 1979 for $47.5 million (plus a royalty on every bottle sold until the year 2000). Bette Nesmith Graham died in 1980, leaving half her fortune to her son Michael and half to philanthropic organizations.

Last updated:   19 May 2011


    Massingill, Randi L.   Total Control: The Michael Nesmith Story.

    Mesa, AZ: FLEXquarters, 1997.   ISBN 0-9658218-3-8   (pp. 17-21).

    Vare, Ethlie Ann and Greg Ptacek.   Mothers of Invention.

    New York: William Morrow, 1988.   ISBN 0-688-06464-7   (pp. 38-42).

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