Billy Mays: A Look Back At A Television Legend

HI CONSUMERISTS, LAURA NORTHRUP HERE FOR THE BILLY MAYS TRIBUTE POST! Billy is no longer with us, but his oeuvre remains. Let’s take a look back at the ads, products, and gentle self-mockery that made Billy a master among pitchmen.

I hadn’t seen most of these commercials, since I own and obsessively use a Tivo. Did we miss your favorite ad or clip? Share it in the comments.

Arguably, Orange Glo was his breakout product. Here’s a two-minute version of the infomercial in all of its cabinet-dunking, floor-polishing glory.
WOW, A YARD SALE! Watch Billy save an entire yard full of abused furniture in this Orange Glo spot.

In this Orange Glo outtake, Mays falls over while simulating "years of wear and tear damage" on a hardwood floor with a sander.

KABOOM! And the soap scum is gone. How many people can radiate this much joy while cleaning a shower door?
Infomercial products find a need that people didn’t previously realize they had, then fill it for $19.95. In the case of the Oxi Clean detergent ball, that need was the desire not to measure and pour laundry detergent for months on end.
Big City Sliders: Cook tiny burgers on your stovetop for some reason.
Samurai Shark – Let’s be honest, this product is way less cool than the name sounds.
We can’t forget Mighty Putty.
He also pitched a very timely product—low-cost health insurance.
One of the reasons that I found Billy Mays tolerable is that he was willing to poke fun at his image, and even at his profession. Pitching baking soda as if it were a new miracle product always made me smile.
His series of ESPN 360 ads are also great self-parody. Here, the service is a typical infomerical miracle product that finds a need, then fills it. That need? Watching sports.
Or, watching sports while on the run from Japanese gangsters.
Finally, Billy pretended to work in an office for a day for an Electronic Retailers Association awards sketch. Too funny. (Check out the outtakes, too.)

(Photo: azrainman)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.