More sad news to pass along today … Billy Mays, perhaps the most successful infomercial pitchman of all time, has passed away today at the age of 50. According to police, Mays was found by his wife early this morning in their Tampa, FL home and was pronounced dead a short time after. Strangely enough, Mays was on board an airplane that suffered a tire blow-out last night before his death this morning but neither he nor any of the other passengers on board were seriously injured as a result (well, that we know of). His cause of death is not yet known:
Television pitchman Billy Mays — who built his fame by appearing on commercials and infomercials promoting household products and gadgets — died Sunday, FOX News confirms. Mays was found unresponsive by his wife inside his Tampa, Fla., home at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday, according to the Tampa Police Department. Police said there were no signs of forced entry to May’s residence and foul play is not suspected. Authorities said an autopsy should be complete by Monday afternoon. Mays, 50, was on board a US Airways flight that blew out its front tires as it landed at a Tampa airport on Saturday, MyFOXTampa.com reported. US Airways spokesman Jim Olson said that none of the 138 passengers and five crew members were injured in the incident, but several passengers reported having bumps and bruises, according to the station. Authorities have not said whether Mays’ death was related to the incident. “Although Billy lived a public life, we don’t anticipate making any public statements over the next couple of days. Our family asks that you respect our privacy during these difficult times,” Mays wife, Deborah, said in a statement on Sunday.
Wow! This would be the 4th death in the “celeb world” in under a week! Not that Billy Mays was a celeb but he was well-known here in the US for his infomercials for various products for sale on TV (among them OxiClean, Kaboom!, Mighty Putty, Orange Glo and more). In recent months, Mays faced small competition from pitchman Vince Offer (of ShamWow fame) who attempted to steal some of Mays‘s thunder but his controversial private life ensured that Billy Mays‘s title as King of Infomercials stayed intact. I even got to see Billy Mays in person when he appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno a couple of months ago. He was a guest on one of the eps that featured Prince as the musical guest. He looked happy and thrilled to be part of Jay Leno‘s final shows as host of The Tonight Show. All life is precious and altho Billy Mays was not as famous as Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson or Ed McMahon, I’m sure his loss greatly affects many people — his family most especially. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends today … Rest well, Billy.
UPDATE: TMZ is reporting that Billy Mays was injured on that US Airways flight that suffered two blown tires upon landing last night (before he died). According to TMZ, Billy himself reported that he was struck in the head with something upon landing … he even mentioned the plane landing on his official Twitter account which, turns out, was his last tweet ever:
The FAA is already deflecting blame for the death of Billy Mays — claiming the legendary TV pitchman wasn’t wearing a seat belt when he took a shot to the head during a rough landing on a flight he was on yesterday. Here’s what we know — Billy Mays was aboard US Airways Flight 1241 flying from Philadelphia, which landed roughly when the front tire blew out as it touched down. After the flight, Billy told FOX 13 in Tampa that something struck him in the head — here’s Billy’s actual quote: “All of a sudden as we hit you know it was just the hardest hit, all the things from the ceiling started dropping. It hit me on the head, but I got a hard head.” We called the FAA for comment, and a spokesperson told us, “The passenger needs to wear a seat belt during landing and he didn’t.” A spokesperson for US Airways did not want to comment until more information comes to light.
Here is the tweet that Billy Mays posted upon landing last night:
Just had a close call landing in Tampa. The tires blew out upon landing. Stuck in the plane on the runway. You can always count on US Air.
The plot thickens. We won’t know the official cause of death until the autopsy is completed on Monday. Wow.