Ron Popeil, the infomercial icon behind products like the Pocket Fisherman and Hair in a Can, died on Wednesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to multiple media reports. He was 86.
Popeil gained recognition when he created the famous Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ, along with his trademarked catchphrase — “Set it and forget it!” Popeil’s creation of the product grossed more than $1 billion in domestic sales.
Born in New York City on May 3, 1935, Popeil started his long career working with his father at a manufacturing facility in Chicago, which produced kitchen appliances. At the age of 16, Pompeil started selling the same products his father’s factory produced in the flea market lining Maxwell St. in Chicago.
After discovering his passion for kitchen ingenuity, Popeil became a tireless salesman for Ronco inventions like the Chop-O-Matic in 1959 and the Veg-O-Matic in 1963, appearing on infomercials to enthusiastically tout the company’s products. His worldwide catchphrase has since been coined all over the infomercial world: “But wait, there’s more!”
Popeil’s other inventions under his company Ronco include the Rhinestone Stud Setter (which later became the Bedazzler), the first Karaoke machine Mr. Microphone, the Smokeless Ashtray and the Inside-the-Eggshell Egg Scrambler.
Popeil soon became a pop culture mainstay, and was even parodied on shows like “I Love Lucy” and “Saturday Night Live.” In the 1976 “SNL” skit, Dan Aykroyd depicts Popeil as a fast-talking, influential salesman with a knack for convincing the consumer to trust his products.
Popeil is survived by his wife, along with four daughters and four grandchildren.
TMZ first reported the news of Popeil’s death.