You have to wonder if before going to sleep last night, pitchman Billy Mays thought of Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Ed McMahon, and said to himself one last time, “but wait, there’s more!”
The OxyClean pitchman was found dead this morning in his Tampa home. No foul play is suspected, although the wires are reporting that Mays might have hit his head yesterday when a U.S. Airways flight he was on blew out a tire while landing.
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.”
His emphatic gesticulations will be missed.
TV pitchman Billy Mays found dead in Tampa home [Tampa Bay Online] (Thanks to everyone who submitted!)