Ron Popeil, the iconic inventor behind such products as Pocket Fisherman and Hair in a Can has died aged eighty-six, TMZ has confirmed. He passed away on Wednesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Born in New York City on May 3rd, 1935, Popeil began his career working at his father's kitchen appliance factory in Chicago. He began selling kitchen appliances at Chicago flea markets and discovered he had both a passion for gadgets and an innate talent for selling.
Popeil then began selling Ronco inventions like the Chop-O-Matic in 1959 and the Veg-O-Matic in 1963, essentially inventing the TV infomercial. He even coined some of the catchphrases still used in infomercials today, like "But wait, there's more!"
Popeil was also the brain behind many iconic infomercial inventions, including the Pocket Fisherman, Hair in a Can, the first Karaoke machine Mr. Microphone, the Smokeless Ashtray, and the Inside-the-Eggshell Egg Scrambler. His inventions grossed more than $1 billion in domestic sales.
Thanks to Popeil's charisma, he soon migrated from the world of infomercials into more mainstream entertainment, made dozens of television and movie cameos, and was even parodied on shows like I Love Lucy and Saturday Night Live. His infamous catchphrase "Set it and forget it!" has been a pop-culture mainstay since its inception. It's estimated his net worth was a whopping $200 million.
But this week, Popeil's family released a statement confirming the star had passed away. "He lived his life to the fullest and passed in the loving arms of his family. The father of the television infomercial, Ron Popeil, was a trailblazer; he rose from a modest upbringing in a fractured home to become a ubiquitous name and face in direct-to-consumer marketing and inventing," it read.
It continued: "Ron's journey captured the quintessential American success story of possibility — all driven by determination, grit, ingenuity, and the entrepreneurial spirit. A perfectionist and tinkerer to his core, Ron had the uncanny ability to identify a need that the consumer didn't realize existed only to then engineer a product that delivered its promise flawlessly to millions of customers."
Tributes have already begun pouring in for the late icon. "I was 8 screaming I wanted the oven for Christmas my mom thought I was nuts. The dude was a legend, RIP," one Facebook fan wrote.
The sentiment was echoed by another commenter, who wrote, "Awe man. He convinced me as a twenty-three-year-old living in my apartment by myself to buy a Showtime joint. And I used it a lot too!! R. I. P. Ron."
"My grandfather owned every gizmo and gadget this man hawked. I'd like to think he's met up with Ron in heaven," another touchingly shared.
Popeil is survived by his wife twenty-five years, Robin, along with 4 daughters (Kathryn, Shannon (dec.), Lauren, Contessa, and Valentina) and 4 grandchildren, Rachel, Isabella, Nicole, and Asher. Rest in Peace.