TV pitchman Billy Mays dies
Mays was found unresponsive in his Tampa home by his wife Sunday morning, reports the Tampa Bay Online and was pronounced dead at 7:45 a.m. Foul play is not suspected, and an autopsy is expected to be completed by Monday afternoon.
According to Fox News, Mays was recently on a U.S. Airways plane that made a bumpy landing when touching down in Tampa because the front tires had blown out. Although some passengers sustained bumps and bruises, it's not clear whether or not Mays' death was caused by the landing.
"It is with incredible sadness that we have to report that Billy Mays died in his sleep last night," reads a statement by the Discovery Channel, which airs Mays' show "Pitchmen."
"Everyone that knows him was aware of his larger-than-life personality, generosity and warmth," continues the statement. "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. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family at this time of incredible loss."
Mays became a pop culture icon as the bearded, stentorian-voiced TV salesman for household products such as Oxi-Clean, Orange Glo and Kaboom!
Mays began his career as a salesman in 1977 by using his voice to catch the attention of passersby on the Atlantic City boardwalk to sell them a portable washing device.
As legend has it, in 1993, Mays helped out rival pitchman Max Appel, the founder of Orange Glo, when his microphone malfunctioned. Mays loaned him another mic, and thus a friendship and eventually a working relationship was born, in which Mays hawked the cleaning products on the Home Shopping Network to great success.
Direct-response marketing followed, with the long infomercials giving Mays a showcase for his pitching style, and he soon became a sought-after pitchman for numerous "As Seen on TV" products.
In April, Mays and fellow pitchman Anthony Sullivan premiered their show "Pitchmen" on the Discovery Channel. The show searches for the next great invention that's created by everyday people.
Recently, Mays poked fun at his image by ordering at a McDonald's drive thru for a morning show. Check out video of the prank:
Will you miss Billy Mays? Have you ever bought a Billy Mays-pitched product?