Ron Popeil, prodigious inventor and infomercial king, dies at 86


Ron Popeil, the man behind those late-night, rapid-fire television commercials that sell everything from the Mr. Microphone to the Pocket Fisherman to the classic Veg-a-Matic, sits surrounded by his wares in his Beverly Hills office on Dec. 8, 1982. His Ronco Company accounts for $35 million in annual retail sales with its current line of 17 products. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

(NEXSTAR) – Ron Popeil, the New York native whose masterful marketing and numerous successful products made him synonymous with TV infomercials, has died at the age of 86, reports say.

His family told TMZ that Popeil died at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Wednesday while surrounded by family members and friends. It’s not clear what the cause of death was, only that he suffered an unspecified medical emergency. Popeil’s representative later confirmed his passing in a statement to Fox News.

Even if you never spent late nights watching his product pitches, there’s still a good chance you’re familiar with some of his catchphrases, such as, “But wait, there’s more!”

Popeil, who started making his televised pitches directly into America’s living rooms in the 1950s, coined another well known line, “Set it, and forget it!” while selling the Showtime Rotisserie, which TMZ reports grossed more than $1 billion in domestic sales.

According to his website, he sold over $1 million worth of his Showtime Rotisseries during a one-hour live segment on QVC, which the site claims to be a world record.

Some of his other well-known products include The Chop-O-Matic, Mr. Microphone, the Popeil Pocket Fisherman, Veg-o-Matic, the Buttoneer, the Smokeless Ashtray, the Inside-the-Egg Scrambler, Hair in a Can Spray and the Rhinestone stud setter (which later became the Bedazzler, according to Popeil’s website).

His onscreen presence and clever inventions made him a household name and he was parodied or featured in a number of television shows and movies. Dan Aykroyd channeled Popeil to sell his “Bass-O-Matic” first on a 1976 episode of “Saturday Night Live,” and then again in 2015.

Popeil formed his own company, Ronco, in 1964 and sold it for $55 million in 2005.

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