Informercial Legend and Inventor Ron Popeil Dies at Age 86
A legend is gone. Informercial king Ron Popeil died "suddenly and peacefully" on Wednesday at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
He was 86.
Popeil was known for his catchphrase "set it and forget it," which he used to sell the Showtime Rotisserie. That product grossed over $1 billion, blowing past other sales records.
The inventor got his sales start in Chicago-area flea markets at the age of 16. His sales pitches "quickly became must-see live entertainment" that gathered audiences in the "hundreds" who would "marvel at his sales shows in the marquis booth at Woolworth's flagship store."
In 1959, he transitioned to television and made his first infomercial for the Chop-o-Matic. In his earnestly dramatic style that became his trademark, Popeil said, "I'm going to show you the greatest kitchen appliance ever made."
And over the years, he showed us must-have products over and over. Some of his products included the Pocket Fisherman, Mr. Microphone, Hair in a Can, and the Electric Food Dehydrator.
Popeil was not just a salesman, but also an inventor who designed many of the products himself.
His company, Ronco, became a household name by the 1970s. However, his fame exploded in the 80s when federal regulations for TV ads loosened, which allowed him to go from brief commercials to full 30-minute infomercials, which soon dominated late night and weekend programming.
Popeil would sell the Ronco company in 2005, but remained closely associated with its products. He marketed some of his later inventions through a new company, Ron's Enterprises, Inc.
Ron Popeil is survived by his wife Robin, daughters Kathryn, Lauren, Contessa, and Valentina as well as his grandchildren Rachel, Isabella, Nicole, and Asher. He also had a daughter named Shannon who is now deceased.