I recently watched Flash of Genius (2008), and I'm curious how close it stays to the real-life story of Robert Kearns, the man who invented the intermittent windshield wiper in 1969 before having the idea stolen by Ford and Chrysler.

Is there any information out there on how close to real life the movie is?

  • 2
    Reminds me of a girlfriend from 40 years ago, whose father had invented cat's eyes but failed to patent the idea. Talk about bitter...
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 18:02
  • @BCdotWEB I'm unsure why the question got downvoted, but thanks for the edit, what happens when I ask a question in a rush.
    – Prometheus
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 18:18
  • 1
    I'm not sure there are degrees of realism. Perhaps you can narrow the focus of the question to specific points?
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 18:55
  • 1
    @Paulie_D That would be a valid argument if we were talking about a well-known movie about which much has been written and researched. For a relatively obscure movie like this with a very limited amount of information out there, the question in the final line of the post is just specific enough to answer the question without running the risk of never getting an answer because the information doesn't exist out there.
    – Prometheus
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 18:59
  • 1
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 21:18

1 Answer 1


Good question. I wonder that too.

What I know: Kearns had many more lawsuits ongoing than the film depicts because he pitched the wiper to multiple automakers, including Chrysler.

Kearns was also jailed for contempt of court at one point having something to do with his divorce.

Movies are a fantasy and time constrained so necessarily condense things (like the multiple law suits) and gloss over others, like his marriage.

In the film it seems sort of wistful, like there might still be a chance for him and Phyllis; in reality it seems she had to take him to court to get 10% of his financial award.

Kearns did have six kids; I don’t know how loyally they all stood by him as portrayed in the film. He died at 77 of cancer and Alzheimer’s. Enjoy life while you can, everybody.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .