Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rest In Peace, Billy Mays.

This past week has seen the death of several icons. Michael Jackson reinvented pop music. Farrah Fawcett was the prototype for 70's feathery-haired, buxom blonde beauty. Ed McMahon practically wrote the manual on professional weedcarrying. And let the record reflect that this morning, America lost yet another icon. Heaven's 800 number called, and Billy Mays has gone to that great infomercial in the sky.
Billy Mays, the burly, bearded television pitchman whose boisterous hawking of products such as Orange Glo and OxiClean made him a pop-culture icon, has died. He was 50.

Tampa police said Mays' wife found him unresponsive Sunday morning. A fire rescue crew pronounced him dead at 7:45 a.m. It was not immediately clear how he died. He said he was hit on the head when an airplane he was on made a rough landing Saturday, and his wife, Deborah Mays, told investigators he didn't feel well before he went to bed about 10 p.m. that night.

There were no signs of a break-in at the home, and investigators do not suspect foul play, said Lt. Brian Dugan of the Tampa Police Department, who wouldn't answer questions about how Mays' body was found because of the ongoing investigation. The coroner's office expects to have an autopsy done by Monday afternoon.

Born William Mays in McKees Rocks, Pa., on July 20, 1958, Mays developed his style demonstrating knives, mops and other "As Seen on TV" gadgets on Atlantic City's boardwalk. For years he worked as a hired gun on the state fair and home show circuits, attracting crowds with his booming voice and genial manner.

After meeting Orange Glo International founder Max Appel at a home show in Pittsburgh in the mid-1990s, Mays was recruited to demonstrate the environmentally friendly line of cleaning products on the St. Petersburg-based Home Shopping Network.

Commercials and informercials followed, anchored by the high-energy Mays showing how it's done while tossing out kitschy phrases like, "Long live your laundry!"
For those unaware, here's a bit of Mays' work.

I'm sure there's a snarky punchline just begging to be written here, but out of respect, I'll pass.

R.I.P. Billy.

TV pitchman Billy Mays found dead at Florida home [AP]

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