LOS ANGELES – Ron Popeil, the quintessential TV pitchman and inventor known to generations of viewers for hawking products including the Veg-O-Matic, the Pocket Fisherman, Mr. Microphone and the Showtime Rotisserie and BBQ, has died, his household said.
Popeil died “suddenly and peacefully” Wednesday astatine Cedars Sinai Medical Center successful Los Angeles, his household said successful a statement. He was 86. No origin of decease was given.
Popeil fundamentally invented the fashionable representation of the American tv pitchman, whose caller products solved frustrating problems viewers didn't cognize they had. He popularized overmuch of the vernacular of late-night TV ads and infomercials, with lines similar “Now however overmuch would you pay?” and “Set it and hide it."
Popeil, whose begetter was besides an inventor-salesman, built his quality to merchantability things arsenic a young antheral successful the open-air markets of Chicago, wherever helium moved arsenic a teen successful the 1940s aft spending his earliest years successful New York and Miami.
Building connected an invention of his father’s, the Chop-o-Matic, helium marketed the slicing-and-chopping instrumentality helium called the Veg-O-Matic, sold by the institution helium founded and named aft himself — Ronco.
He would instrumentality the product-slinging benignant antecedently done astatine authorities fairs and Woolworth stores to tv starting successful the precocious 1950s, offering viewers a accidental to skip stores and bargain consecutive from the root with a elemental telephone call.
As his power grew, helium crafted an enthusiastic, guy-next-door beingness that suffused the 1970s with commercials for specified gadgets arsenic the the Popeil Pocket Fisherman, a self-contained sportfishing apparatus, and Mr. Microphone, a then-groundbreaking wireless mic that was amplified done the nearest AM radio.
“But hold — there’s more,” he’d accidental successful the ads.
Though Ronco Teleproducts went bankrupt successful 1984, Popeil started from the bottommost again and built himself and his institution backmost up. By the 1990s, arsenic the infomercial gained footing and cablegram television’s power spread, helium was doing full-length shows that evangelized astir specified devices arsenic pasta makers, nutrient dehydrators and “GLH” (Great-Looking Hair), which was commonly called “hair successful a can.”
He appealed to consumers successful portion due to the fact that helium was a classical American showman, adjacent parts P.T. Barnum and Thomas Edison — an inventor and innovator, yes, but a popularizer arsenic well, a antheral who saw consumers’ needs and past recovered accessible ways to entice them into making purchases.
In a 1997 Associated Press interview, helium said his thrust to invent was much than mercantile; it was a spot obsessive. “I person capable wealth today,” helium said astatine the time. “But I can’t stop. If there’s a request for these things, I can’t assistance myself.”
He seemed ever to person caller products astatine the ready: the Ronco Electric Food Dehydrator, Popeil’s Pasta & Sausage Maker, the Inside the Eggshell Egg Scrambler, the Bagel Cutter, the Hav-A-Maid Mop, the Speed Tufting Kit, The Whip-O-Matic.
When location buying networks arose, helium recovered a earthy home, and helium sold Showtime Rotisseries successful droves connected QVC.
Popeil was perpetually parodied successful popular culture. He was sent up by Dan Akroyd successful the aboriginal days of “Saturday Night Live” with his “Bass-O-Matic” sketch.
“Weird Al" Yankovic had a opus connected his “In 3-D” medium titled “Mr. Popeil,” whose lyrics said, “I request a Veg-O-Matic! I request a pouch fisherman! I request a useful appliance that’ll scramble an ovum portion it’s inactive wrong its shell! ... Help me, Mr. Popeil!"
Popeil was blessed to instrumentality portion successful the parody himself, knowing and embracing his campy nationalist image. He played oregon voiced himself connected shows including “The X Files,” “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill."
Popeil is survived by his woman of 25 years Robin; daughters Kathryn, Lauren Contessa and Valentina; and 4 grandchildren. A 5th daughter, Shannon, died earlier him.
Anthony reported from Tokyo.
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