He told you to "Set it and forget it," but the world will never forget Ron
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
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."