Type keyword(s) to search


Ron Popeil's mastery of television made him as recognizable as movie stars

  • The made-for-TV inventor who became an icon of infomercials died this week of a brain hemorrhage at age 86. In Popeil's New York Times obituary, Daniel Victor writes that Popeil's ascension is a pretty compelling story in and of itself. "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," writes Victor. "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." After his father's death, Ron Popeil bought his dad's 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," says Victor. The result was more than $90 million in sales. “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,” 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.”

    TOPICS: Ron Popeil