Discussion:
Ron Popeil, "Set it and forget it" infomercial star, dead at 86
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Ubiquitous
2021-07-29 08:30:42 UTC
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He told you to "Set it and forget it," but the world will never forget Ron
Popeil.

Popeil, an inventor and the face of infomercials for "as-seen-on-TV" products
like Showtime Rotisserie and Pocket Fisherman, has died. He was 86.

His family told TMZ that Popeil had a medical emergency on Tuesday and died
Wednesday morning surrounded by family at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical
Center.

Popeil was best known for the "Set it and forget it" catchphrase used to sell
Showtime Rotisserie in late-night infomercials. Long before air fryers became
the kitchen appliance du jour, the countertop rotisserie appliance took the
home cooking world by storm, having sold over $1 billion worth, TMZ reported.

The mogul is credited with coining the oft-used infomercial phrase, "But
wait, there's more!" But the same can be said about Popeil, who was more than
an infomercial guy.

He created the entire concept.

In the early 1950s, Popeil teamed up with his partner at the time, Mel Korey,
to produce the first modern minute-long, black and white commercial for
slightly over $500, according to the biography on his official site.

But Popeil was not just a face selling a product like the influencers of
today. The New York City-native founded the Ronco company in 1964, selling
products created by his father, Samuel "S.J." Popeil, who created the Chop-
o-Matic and the Veg-o-Matic.

Following in the footsteps of his father, Popeil went on to create products
himself including the Mr. Microphone (the first Karaoke machine), the Popeil
Pocket Fisherman, the Buttoneer, the Smokeless Ashtray, Popeil's Electric
Food Dehydrator, the Inside-the-Egg Scrambler, GLH-9 (Great Looking Hair
Formula #9) Hair in a Can Spray, the Rhinestone Stud Setter (Later called the
Bedazzler), the Cap Snaffler, the Popeil Automatic Pasta Maker and the Ronco
Electric Food Dehydrator.

His products can be seen in the Smithsonian Museum today.

According to TMZ, the entrepreneur made a fortune estimated at $200 million
in his career and had droves of fans who called themselves "the Rontourage."
He also set a QVC record in 2000 selling over $1 million worth of his
Showtime Rotisseries - or approximately 150 units each minute - during a
one-hour live segment.

Perhaps due to the catchiness of his infomercials, Popeil was a hot figure
himself, having been portrayed by Dan Aykroyd on a 1976 episode of "Saturday
Night Live." The "SNL" skit saw Aykroyd poking fun of the infomercial style
with a fictional "Bat-O-Matic" product.



A celebrity in his own right, he also made appearances on the likes of "The
X-Files," "King of the Hill," "The Simpsons," "Old School" and "The Daily
Show with Jon Stewart."

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Trump won.
Terry del Fuego
2021-07-29 13:05:50 UTC
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Post by Ubiquitous
The "SNL" skit saw Aykroyd poking fun of the infomercial style
with a fictional "Bat-O-Matic" product.
Oh, for... BASS not Bat.
danny burstein
2021-07-29 13:17:45 UTC
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Post by Terry del Fuego
Post by Ubiquitous
The "SNL" skit saw Aykroyd poking fun of the infomercial style
with a fictional "Bat-O-Matic" product.
Oh, for... BASS not Bat.
I thought so, too, but the video clip has "Bat".

http://youtu.be/iKllBHvpZcE

But I very definitely remember the "Bass-o-matic", so I
guess there were more than one...
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_____________________________________________________
Knowledge may be power, but communications is the key
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That Derek
2021-07-29 14:55:14 UTC
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[To me, he wasn't "free NYT lookup"-worthy, but what the hell!, it's the end of the month]

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/29/business/ron-popeil-dead.html

Ron Popeil, Inventor and Ubiquitous Infomercial Pitchman, Dies at 86

Mr. Popeil became a well-known presence on TV, hawking products that people didn’t know they needed, including the Veg-O-Matic and the Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler.


By Daniel Victor
July 29, 2021
Updated 10:22 a.m. ET
Ron Popeil, a made-for-TV inventor and salesman whose infomercial stardom persuaded millions of Americans to buy the Veg-O-Matic, Pocket Fisherman and dozens of other products they had no idea they needed, died on Wednesday. He was 86.

He died suddenly at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to a statement from his family obtained by The Associated Press.

Mr. Popeil’s mastery of television marketing, dating to the 1950s but spanning several decades, made him nearly as recognizable onscreen as the TV and movie stars of his era. Several of his catchphrases — especially “But wait! There’s more” and “set it and forget it” — have endured beyond his retirement.

And many American homes still have, or once had, the products he hawked, some schlocky gizmos that were quickly discarded and others long-running fixtures: the Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ, the Ronco Electric Food Dehydrator, Popeil’s Pasta & Sausage Maker, Mr. Microphone, the Bagel Cutter and the Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler, among them.

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The products chopped, charred, shined, sharpened, cleaned, massaged, folded a fishing rod into a pocket and covered bald spots with a spray can. He sold them all without shouting, a folksy, calming presence that made half-hour infomercials their own form of entertainment as he demonstrated the product and set up testimonials from the audience.

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“Ron literally invented the business of direct-response TV sales,” Steve Bryant, a one-time QVC host, said in 1994. “Ron paints in very definable brushstrokes, and every doubt in the customer’s mind is wiped away.”

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Mr. Popeil (pronounced poh-PEEL) was born in New York on May 3, 1935. His parents divorced when he was young and he lived with grandparents in Chicago. He said he missed out on having a true childhood; “I never had a birthday party,” he once said.

His father, Samuel Popeil, was the inventor of the Chop-O-Matic and several other well-known items, and as a teenager Ron began selling his father’s inventions at a Walgreen’s store in Chicago.

He described his relationship with his father, who died in 1984, as all business. In 1974, Samuel’s second wife, Eloise, was convicted of attempting to hire two men to murder him. After serving 19 months of her sentence, the couple later remarried.

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After getting his start selling his father’s products, Mr. Popeil created his own company, Ronco, which he sold in 2005 for about $56 million. The company’s sales dropped 35 percent in the year that followed, and the company went bankrupt within two years before being revived in 2008.

“The Popeil-Ronco story goes back to the old pitch traditions of when somebody used to stand up at a county fair or on a boardwalk and, through nuances of word, voice, gestures, could get somebody to stop in their tracks and buy something they would never consider buying,” Tim Samuelson, author of “But Wait! There’s More!,” a book about the Popeil family, said in 2008.

After the company’s creditors forced it to be liquidated in 1984, Mr. Popeil bought its trademarks and inventory back for about $2 million. A few years later, he spent $33,000 to make a one-hour infomercial for a food dehydrator, and nearly $60 million over the years to broadcast it on local stations and cable channels. It resulted in more than $90 million in sales, he said.

His ubiquitous placement on stations across the country helped make him a household figure. His gadgets were lampooned by Dan Aykroyd on “Saturday Night Live” and in a Weird Al Yankovic song called “Mr. Popeil.”

“I’ve gone by many titles: King of Hair, King of Pasta, King of Dehydration, or to use a more colloquial phrase, a pitchman or a hawker,” Mr. Popeil said in 1995. “I don’t like those phrases, but I am what I am. Pick a product, any product on your desk. Introduce the product. Tell all the problems relating to the product. Tell how the product solves all those problems. Tell the customer where he or she can buy it and how much it costs. Do this in one minute. Try it. You know what it sounds like? It comes out like this: Brrrrrrrrrrr.”

Mr. Popeil is survived by his wife, Robin; daughters Kathryn, Lauren Contessa and Valentina; and four grandchildren, according to The Associated Press.

Daniel Victor is a general assignment reporter based in London after stints in Hong Kong and New York. He joined The Times in 2012. @bydanielvictor
radioacti...@gmail.com
2021-07-30 01:13:37 UTC
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Given that the late Popeil's quirky products usually sold briskly but then quickly disappeared from the late-night tube made me think that either (1) they didn't work nearly as effectively as shown (or maybe at all?) or (2) were cheaply manufactured with parts that all but immediately broke upon prescribed usage, both strongly suggesting to me that it all was a ripoff from the start.

Ergo, I'm wondering: anyone know of anyone who bought a Ronco gizmo which DID work as performed on TV, and continues to be used years or even decades later?

ALSO: anyone own a pair of pants or a shirt with large enough pockets to (comfortably!) contain The Pocket Fisherman ?

BRYAN STYBLE/Florida
Ubiquitous
2021-07-30 08:51:04 UTC
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Post by Terry del Fuego
Post by Ubiquitous
The "SNL" skit saw Aykroyd poking fun of the infomercial style
with a fictional "Bat-O-Matic" product.
http://youtu.be/iKllBHvpZcE
Oh, for... BASS not Bat.
Apparently, he did a Bat version of the original spoof.

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Trump won.

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