Ron Popeil Dies At Age 86: Fans Pay Tribute to Infomercial King

Ron Popeil

Inventor and infomercial icon Ron Popeil, the man behind products such as the Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ and the Pocket Fisherman, died on Wednesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 86.

Born in New York City on May 3, 1935, Popeil started out producing and distributing kitchen appliances alongside his father at a manufacturing facility in Chicago. He rose to fame in the 1950s after starring in a series of infomercials for the Showtime Rotisserie, coining the phrases “Set it, and forget it!” and “But wait, there’s more!”

In 1964, Popeil formed his own company, Ronco, which invented products such as the Veg-O-Matic, Inside-The-Shell Egg Scrambler, Hair in a Can, the Smokeless Ashtray, and the Ronco Rhinestone Stud Setter. He also created Mr. Microphone, an item that has been parodied several times over the years, most famously in The Simpsons episode “Radio Bart.”

Popeil’s infomercial success and memorable personality turned him into a pop-culture mainstay. He made cameo appearances in numerous television shows such as The X-Files, Futurama, King of the Hill, Sex and the City, The Daily Show, and The West Wing. He has also been spoofed on shows like I Love Lucy and Saturday Night Live, the latter of which saw Dan Aykroyd playing the fast-talking salesman.

In 2011, readers of online health magazine Self voted Popeil as one of the 25 people who have changed the way we eat, drink and think about food.

Fans of Popeil took to social media on Wednesday to share their condolences.

Popeil is survived by his wife, Robin, his four daughters and four grandchildren.