TV Pitchman Billy Mays
Energetic Pitchman Was 50
Billy Mays, a prolific, wildly energetic television pitchman for a variety of cleaning products, died June 28, 2009, at his home in Tampa, Florida. He was 50.
According to the Tampa Police Department, Mays was unresponsive when discovered by his wife, Deborah, on Sunday morning and was pronounced dead at 7:45 a.m. by the Tampa Fire Rescue Department.
On Saturday afternoon, Mays was on a US Airways flight from Philadelphia that reportedly ruptured a front nose tire when it landed at Tampa International Airport. Mays told a Fox News affiliate in Tampa that he had been struck hard on the head by a falling object when the plane landed.
That evening Mays reportedly told his wife that he was not feeling well, and after eating dinner he went to bed. There was no initial indication that the airplane incident had played a role in Mays's death.
Born in McKees Rock, Pennsylvania, Mays honed his sales skills on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, where he drew crowds as he hawked his mops and other wares. His big break came in the mid-1990s when he was hired by Orange Glo International to appear on the Home Shopping Network to promote the company's line of cleaners, which included OxiClean, Orange Glo and Kaboom.
Recently, Mays paired up with Anthony Sullivan, an infomercial veteran, in a reality show called Pitchmen on the Discovery Channel that tracks the two as they search for new products and create new ads.
Mays's loud, animated delivery in his commercials made him a frequent subject of parody on the Internet. Acknowledging his distinctive style, Mays recently appeared in ads for ESPN's online service.
Mays's survivors include his wife, Deborah; their daughter, Elizabeth; and a son, Billy Mays III, from a previous marriage.