Even among the talented, the formula for celebrity is mostly “money plus hot.” Family connections and a statistically improbable body shape will get you everywhere, but some of those pretty faces have actual brains behind them, even good enough ones to improve society in ways that have nothing to do with mugging for a camera.

Charlie Sheen’s Capless Chapstick

Charlie Sheen

(DeanoJD/Wikimedia Commons)

In 2012, Charlie Sheen proudly unveiled his patent for a lip balm tube that twists up after spending one too many fractions of a second removing unnecessary caps. He even pitched it to Chapstick, but they explained that their design is actually a carefully thought-out strategy that weighs economic and consumer factors he couldn’t begin to comprehend, so now he just “bring it out at parties.”

Marlon Brando’s Drumhead Tightening Device

When you hear “Marlon Brando,” do you think “skilled musician”? Probably not, but he apparently knew enough about drums to not only identify a problem in how they’re maintained but also fix it. We can’t even confidently point to the head on a drum. It’s the top part, right?

Penn Jilette’s … Um … Hydrotherapy Device

In 1998, the magician/poor namer of things patented a hot tub with a “discharge nozzle located within the tub and connected to the outlet, mounted to the seat so that the discharged water from the circulation pump automatically aligns with and is directed to stimulation points (e.g., the clitoris) of the female user.” It’s a masturbation tub. He was apparently unaware that that’s just a tub.

Christie Brinkley’s Educational Blocks

It’s not clear at what point Christie Brinkley stopped prancing in music videos long enough to get interested in education, but she invented a set of lettered blocks with magnets on them for helping children learn the alphabet. We can only assume they were for Billy Joel.

Howard Hughes’s Steel Bra

Jane Russell in The Outlaw

(George Hurrell/Wikimedia Commons)

While filming 1943’s The Outlaw, Howard Hughes wanted to leave no room for the chance that audiences might not be uncomfortably aware of Jane Russel’s boobs, so he created a bra with steel rods that curved under the cups and attached to the straps. Russel said it was “uncomfortable and ridiculous” and quietly subbed in her own bra, which he apparently didn’t notice.

The Many Inventions of Mark Twain

Mark Twain in Tesla's lab

(Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons)

Huck Finn’s white-suited daddy was also in the lingerie business, though he didn’t intend to be. His fastener was supposed to be used to tighten shirts at the waist, eliminating the need for suspenders, but everyone realized that looked stupid and it was used for bras instead. He also patented a self-pasting scrapbook and a history trivia game, presumably tired of losing at Trivial Pursuit.

Zeppo Marx’s Heart Attack Watch

After he left the His Last Name Brothers, Zeppo Marx went on to an arguably even more impressive career as an engineer, which including making the clamp that held the Fat Man nuclear bomb in its bay. In 1969, he teamed up with a doctor to create a watch that could detect your heart rate and sound an alarm if anything really funky was happening.

Jack Johnson’s Wrench

Jack Johnson

(Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons)

Before his name was co-opted by the dad rock industry, the first black heavyweight boxing champion patented one of the first wrenches. He actually developed it while he was in prison for traveling across state lines with his girlfriend for “immoral purposes,” which was a real crime in the Jim Crow era, because you’ve gotta pass the time somehow.

Hedy Lamarr Invented WiFi

Hedy Lamarr

(MGM/Wikimedia Commons)

You’re probably only reading this because of a glamorous Golden Age movie star who also happened to be a technological genius. She developed a communication system that worked by “frequency hopping” and eventually formed the basis for GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi, so blame her if you don’t like it.

Top image: Genevieve/Wikimedia Commons

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