It sure has been an interesting week for sure. The passing of so many celebrities has many specifically say… “Death Comes In Threes”. Well – I surely remember Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson. But today marks another passing for somebody that I felt was more enjoyable than all of them. Billy Mays passed away this morning.
Tremendously famous for this latenight product endorsement of OxiClean, Orange-Glo, and many others – I’ve recently been truely enjoying his latest reality show called “Pitchmen” on Discovery channel with friend and fellow pitchman Anthony Sullivan. In fact, we were just catching up on the last three episodes on TiVo last night when I mentioned to my wife that I’d love to dress up like Billy Mays for Halloween… (I also said that with the required hand movements and “I’m Billy Mays” monologue)
RIP, Billy Mays.
From Associated Press, June 28, 2009
TAMPA, Fla. – 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 was found unresponsive by his wife Sunday morning. A fire rescue crew pronounced him dead at 7:45 a.m.
There were no signs of a break-in, and investigators do not suspect foul play, said Lt. Brian Dugan of the Tampa Police Department, who wouldn’t answer any more 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.
Mays’ wife, Deborah Mays, told investigators that her husband had complained he didn’t feel well before he went to bed some time after 10 p.m. Saturday night, Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.
“Although Billy lived a public life, we don’t anticipate making any public statements over the next couple of days,” Deborah Mays said in a statement Sunday. “Our family asks that you respect our privacy during these difficult times.”
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!”
Recently he’s been seen on commercials for a wide variety of products and is featured on the reality TV show “Pitchmen” on the Discovery Channel, which follows Mays and Anthony Sullivan in their marketing jobs. He’s also been seen in ESPN ads.
His ubiquitousness and thumbs-up, in-your-face pitches won Mays plenty of fans. People line up at his personal appearances for autographed color glossies, and strangers stop him in airports to chat about the products.
“I enjoy what I do,” Mays told The Associated Press in a 2002 interview. “I think it shows.”
Mays liked to tell the story of giving bottles of OxiClean to the 300 guests at his wedding, and doing his ad spiel (“powered by the air we breathe!”) on the dance floor at the reception. Visitors to his house typically got bottles of cleaner and housekeeping tips.
As part of “Pitchmen,” Mays and Sullivan showed viewers new gadgets such as the Impact Gel shoe insert; the Tool Band-it, a magnetized armband that holds tools; and the Soft Buns portable seat cushion.
“One of the things that we hope to do with ‘Pitchmen’ is to give people an appreciation of what we do,” Mays told The Tampa Tribune in an interview in April. “I don’t take on a product unless I believe in it. I use everything that I sell.”
Discovery Channel spokeswoman Elizabeth Hillman released a statement Sunday extending sympathy to the Mays family.
“Everyone that knows him was aware of his larger-than-life personality, generosity and warmth,” Hillman’s statement said. “Billy was a pioneer in his field and helped many people fulfill their dreams. He will be greatly missed as a loyal and compassionate friend.”