Dec. 27 marked the passing of Hale Dougherty, M.D., 71, a physician entrepreneur who combined good timing with a clever sense of humor.
A practicing family doctor for 40 years, Dougherty built a side business around a political joke of the early 1970s: "Did you know, Mickey Mouse wears a Spiro Agnew watch?"
He commissioned an art student to caricature Agnew wearing a red, white and blue outfit and flashing the peace sign and created a watch that became a fashion trend.
Marketing companies were afraid to touch the idea, says Dougherty's wife, Patricia, so the couple bought the back page of the liberal Los Angeles Free Press, rented a post office box and sold the Swiss-made watches for $14.95 each.
"People went crazy over it," Patricia says. "It absolutely took over our lives."
Pierre Salinger, an aide to President Kennedy, ordered six, Elizabeth Taylor a dozen. After Ethel Kennedy appeared on television wearing one, Patricia says the phones at home-and at Dougherty's practice-never stopped ringing.
Dougherty practiced in Orange County, Calif., until his retirement in 2000. He is survived by his wife and 10 children.