A Tribute to TV Pitchman Billy Mays

A Tribute to TV Pitchman Billy Mays

Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson and now famous TV pitchman, and star of Discovery Channel’s new series Pitchmen, Billy Mays … needless to say, it’s been one of the worst weeks ever for TV celebs.

Mays, the famously enthusiastic spokesman for As Seen on TV products like OxiClean, Orange Glo and the Hercules Hook, has reportedly died in his sleep. He was found dead in his home in Tampa on Sunday morning, and his son confirmed his death on Twitter.

The Discovery Channel released the following statement regarding their reality star’s death:

“It is with incredible sadness that we have to report that Billy Mays died in his sleep last night. Everyone that knows him was aware of his larger-than-life personality, generosity and warmth. 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. More information will be distributed as it becomes available.”

A few quick facts about the endearing, energetic salesman:

1 – Mays began his pitchman career right after graduating from high school in Pennsylvania. His first product: trying to get customers on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City to buy a portable washing device called the Washmatik

2 – Another celebrity who began his career as a Boardwalk pitchman: Ed McMahon

3 – Mays and fellow pitchman Anthony Sullivan appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien on June 23. You can catch the whole episode on Hulu.com

4 – Billy Mays fansite BillyMays.TV includes clips from Pitchmen and Mays’ iconic infomercials. Another Billy Mays fansite: Billy Mays Rules.com

5 – Among Mays’ other As Seen on TV products: the Big City Slider Station, the Steam Buddy, Mighty Putty, the Samurai Shark, Zorbeez, HandySwitch and the Awesome Auger

6 – Mays’ first major success was Orange Glo, which he pitched on the Home Shopping Network in 1996

7 – A YouTube.com clip shows Billy Mays ordering breakfast – in true Billy Mays spirit – at a McDonalds drive-thru

8 – Mays and Anthony Sullivan have sold more than $1 billion worth of their infomercial merch

9 – Mays was a walk-on linebacker for the football team as West Virginia University before he began his pitchman career

10 – Discovery Channel will air a marathon of the Pitchmen series on July 1 (11AM ET)

UPDATE at 6:33PM ET: The official Associated Press obituary for Billy Mays includes up-to-date information on the June 27 airplane incident in which Mays and other passengers reportedly had items from the plane’s overhead storage drop onto their heads.

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