Quantcast

“It Slices, It Dices!” – Veg-O-Matic Pitchman Dies

LOS ANGELES (AP) — 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 family said.

Popeil died “suddenly and peacefully” Wednesday at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his family said in a statement. He was 86. No cause of death was given.

Popeil essentially invented the popular image of the American television pitchman, whose novel products solved frustrating problems viewers didn’t know they had. He popularized much of the vernacular of late-night TV ads and infomercials, with lines like “Now how much would you pay?” and “Set it and forget it.”

Popeil, whose father was also an inventor-salesman, built his ability to sell things as a young man in the open-air markets of Chicago, where he moved as a teen in the 1940s after spending his earliest years in New York and Miami.

Building on an invention of his father’s, the Chop-o-Matic, he marketed the slicing-and-chopping machine he called the Veg-O-Matic, sold by the company he founded and named after himself — Ronco.

...article continued below
- Advertisement -

He would take the product-slinging style previously done at state fairs and Woolworth stores to television starting in the late 1950s, offering viewers a chance to skip stores and buy straight from the source with a simple phone call.

As his influence grew, he crafted an enthusiastic, guy-next-door presence that suffused the 1970s with commercials for such gadgets as the the Popeil Pocket Fisherman, a self-contained fishing apparatus, and Mr. Microphone, a then-groundbreaking wireless mic that was amplified through the nearest AM radio.

“But wait — there’s more,” he’d say in the ads.

Though Ronco Teleproducts went bankrupt in 1984, Popeil started from the bottom again and built himself and his company back up. By the 1990s, as the infomercial gained footing and cable television’s influence spread, he was doing full-length shows that evangelized about such devices as pasta makers, food dehydrators and “GLH” (Great-Looking Hair), which was commonly called “hair in a can.”

He appealed to consumers in part because he was a classic American showman, equal parts P.T. Barnum and Thomas Edison — an inventor and innovator, yes, but a popularizer as well, a man who saw consumers’ needs and then found accessible ways to entice them into making purchases.

...article continued below
- Advertisement -

In a 1997 Associated Press interview, he said his drive to invent was more than mercantile; it was a bit obsessive. “I have enough money today,” he said at the time. “But I can’t stop. If there’s a need for these things, I can’t help myself.”

He seemed always to have new products at 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 home shopping networks arose, he found a natural home, and he sold Showtime Rotisseries in droves on QVC.

Popeil was constantly parodied in pop culture. He was sent up by Dan Akroyd in the early days of “Saturday Night Live” with his “Bass-O-Matic” sketch.

“Weird Al” Yankovic had a song on his “In 3-D” album titled “Mr. Popeil,” whose lyrics said, “I need a Veg-O-Matic! I need a pocket fisherman! I need a handy appliance that’ll scramble an egg while it’s still inside its shell! … Help me, Mr. Popeil!”

Popeil was happy to take part in the parody himself, understanding and embracing his campy public image. He played or voiced himself on shows including “The X Files,” “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill.”

Popeil is survived by his wife of 25 years Robin; daughters Kathryn, Lauren Contessa and Valentina; and four grandchildren. A fifth daughter, Shannon, died before him.

 

- Advertisement -

TRENDING

Game-Changing Covid Treatment Pill May Be Just Months Away

At least three promising antivirals for covid are being tested in clinical trials, with results expected as soon as late fall or winter.

U.S. Is Discarding Millions Of Doses Of Unwanted Vaccines

The federal government is working with Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers to reduce the number of doses per vial, amid growing concerns about wasted vaccines.

Pop Star Makes Stunning Discovery: ‘People Are Scared Of Big Boobs’

“I lost 100,000 followers, just because of the boobs. People are scared of big boobs.”

Vaccinated People Are ‘Just as Likely’ to Spread Covid: True?

The Atlantic – For many fully vaccinated Americans, the Delta surge spoiled what should’ve been a glorious summer. Those who had cast their masks aside...

Biden Admin. Awards $150K To Florida District That Resisted DeSantis

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration said on Thursday that it was reimbursing a Florida school district that lost state money for imposing a mask...

Ivermectin: What The Evidence Says

Daily Briefing, September 21, 2021 ADVISORY BOARD – Ivermectin is an anti-parasite drug discovered in 1975. It was initially introduced as a drug for livestock,...

CDC Backs COVID Booster For Millions

AP – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday endorsed booster shots for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans, opening a...

Doctors Charged In Massive Fraud Including False Covid Claims

NBC NEWS – The Department of Justice has announced criminal charges against 42 medical professionals, including 23 doctors, and nearly 100 other people for...

Middle-School Mom Rips School Board Over Anal Sex Reference

FOX NEWS – A Texas school district has removed a book from schools after an irate mother read aloud an excerpt about anal sex...

State Cops Sue Governor To Block Vaccine Mandate

FOX NEWS – The union that represents about 1,800 Massachusetts State Police troopers went before a judge Wednesday asking for a delay in the...
- Advertisement -