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Ron Popeil, the prolific infomercial spokesman behind “as seen on TV” products like the Showtime Rotisserie and Hair in a Can, has died. He was 86.
Popeil died early Wednesday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center following a “severe medical emergency” on Tuesday, Popeil’s family told TMZ.
Popeil was best known for the “Set it and forget it” catchphrase he used to sell the Showtime Rotisserie in late-night infomercials. The product shattered QVC records, selling over $1 billion worth of appliances, according to TMZ.
He is also often credited with popularizing the phrase, “But wait, there’s more!”
But Popeil was more than just a smiling face for hire, he pioneered the art of the infomercial and modern television advertising as a whole. In the 1950s, he and his partner, Mel Korey, produced the first minute long commercial for just $500, according to Popeil’s official website. The product? The Ronco Chop-o-Matic, a gadget created by Popeil’s father, Samuel “S.J.” Popeil.
In 1964, the NYC native founded Ronco to sell more of S.J’s products. Popeil went on to invent and sell household appliances of his own such as Mr. Microphone (the first Karaoke machine), the Popeil Pocket Fisherman, the Buttoneer, the Smokeless Ashtray, Popeil’s Electric Food Dehydrator, the Inside-the-Egg Scrambler, GLH-9 (Great Looking Hair Formula #9) Hair in a Can Spray, the Rhinestone Stud Setter (precursor to the Bedazzler), the Cap Snaffler, the Popeil Automatic Pasta Maker and the Ronco Electric Food Dehydrator.
As Popeil’s late night television presence increased, his signature fast-talking pitch style and business savvy made him a household name, spawning generations of parodies, notably from the likes of “I Love Lucy” and “Saturday Night Live.” His celebrity status was so great that he appeared on everything from “The Simpsons” to “Old School” to “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” as himself.
Today, many of Popeil’s original products can be viewed at the Smithsonian Museum.
Read original story Ron Popeil, ‘Set It and Forget It’ Infomercial King, Dies at 86 At TheWrap