Iconic TV pitchman Billy Mays is dead at 50

He was the man with no inside voice, the man who seemed to be on every late-night cable channel at once, the man who comprehensively convinced us we don't need a cabinet full of cleaners. And now, sadly, infomercial icon Billy Mays is dead. Details were scarce Sunday, though there were apparently no signs of foul play, so that probably rules out the Yakuza gangsters who were stalking Mays in the hilarious self-parody above. It's always been hard to pin down what made Mays so good at selling cleaning products, dubiously necessary inventions and just about anything else. Was it the beard? The wildly gesticulating hands? The tone that straddled the line between evangelism and straight-out screaming? Obviously it was all of the above that catapulted Mays from hawking wares at local garden shows to reality TV stardom on the Discovery Channel's PitchMen. So here's to Billy Mays, a one-man sales juggernaut who, like
fellow commercial legend Ed McMahon
, was never afraid to laugh at his own public persona.

—Posted by David Griner