Industry News

Ken Jacuzzi, the inspiration for the home spa, passes away

February 21, 2017
Candido Jacuzzi and Ken Jacuzzi with the whirlpool pump
Candido Jacuzzi and Ken Jacuzzi with the whirlpool pump

Ken Jacuzzi, the person who was the inspiration for his father Candido’s invention – the Jacuzzi whirlpool – has passed away aged 75.

Candido and his brothers founded what became Jacuzzi Group Worldwide, still a leading manufacturer of in-home baths and portable hot tubs.

When told by a doctor told Ken would not live to see his third birthday, Candido invented a pump to give his son pain-relieving hydrotherapy treatments at home. That hydrotherapy pump led to what is known as the Jacuzzi brand today.

Not only did Ken see his third birthday, he saw his 75th! After a long and successful life in manufacturing, marketing, and research and development around the globe, Ken Jacuzzi passed away in January.

The Jacuzzi family were immigrants from Italy who migrated to the Californian orchards as fruit pickers. Eventually the seven Jacuzzi brothers moved north to Berkeley and established a factory manufacturing aeroplane propellers, and in the early 1900s they invented the first enclosed cabin monoplane. This airplane carried mail and ferried passengers from the San Francisco Bay Area to Yosemite National Park.

A poor prognosis overturned

Ken was born in 1941 and just before he turned two he contracted strep throat which evolved into rheumatic fever, which in turn evolved into juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

“It affects the whole body, not just the joints,” he said in a video made last year. See the interview with Ken Jacuzzi below.

A rheumatologist placed him in a large stainless steel hydrotherapy tub for treatment, and his mother noticed he was more flexible and comfortable after the hydrotherapy. She convinced Candido to make a pump they could use at home to achieve the same effect. Once it was made the doctor visited the home and was so impressed he encouraged them to make and market the product so it could help more families.

Candido followed his advice, and they started selling them through dealers.

The benefit of the spa

“You really felt the effect immediately,” said Ken. “Pain reduction and flexibility, the buoyancy of water combined with the massage and the warm water, it really feels good. They hydrotherapy has really allowed me to live a normal lifespan.”

A TV program called Queen for a Day, watched by 20 million people in the 1950s, showcased the product and gave it away as a prize. It became famous overnight.

In 1979 the family sold its business to Kidde Inc and other family members retired or left the business except Roy Jacuzzi who invented what became known as the Jacuzzi tub, and Ken who worked in the business in Italy. Candido passed away in 1986.

Bob Rowan, Jacuzzi CEO, says that it was with great sadness they learned of Ken’s passing.

“He lived his life with grace and great dignity, and was an honourable humanitarian. He was the inspiration of not only the Jacuzzi Brand, but an entire industry. Our deepest sympathies go out to his wife and extended family.”

As well as gaining an master’s degree and working for Jacuzzi’s Italian operation in marketing and R&D, Ken had an accomplished career working for the disabled, at one time serving as the Arizona director of the Office for Americans with Disabilities.

He also published a memoir chronicling his experience growing up with a debilitating condition in an immigrant family full of inventors.

See the interview with Ken Jacuzzi below:


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