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BILLY MAYSOxiClean pitchman dies at age 50THE WASHINGTON POST Monday, June 29, 2009 WASHINGTON — Billy Mays, the bearded, boisterous pitchman who, as the undisputed king of TV yell-and-sell, became an unlikely pop culture icon, died at his home in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday.

He was 50.

Tampa police told The Associated Press that his wife discovered him unresponsive early Sunday morning.

A fire rescue crew pronounced him dead at 7:45 a.m.

The man many TV viewers knew as "the OxiClean guy" was among the passengers on a US Airways flight that made a rough landing Saturday afternoon at Tampa International Airport.

Mays told Tampa's Fox TV affiliate that something fell from the ceiling and hit him on the head, "but I got a hard head." A police spokeswoman said linking his death to the rough landing would "purely be speculation." As often as 400 times a week, his "Hi! Billy Mays here!" signaled yet another paean to Mighty Putty, Simoniz Fix It scratch remover, the Big City Slider Station, the Handy Switch, the Awesome Auger and numerous other "As Seen on TV" products.

Forbes magazine has reported that his efforts accounted for more than $1 billion in combined sales for the products he pitched.

Recently, he was featured on the Discovery Channel reality show "Pitchmen," which follows Mays and Anthony Sullivan, his business partner and producer, as they entice viewers with such new gadgets as the Impact Gel shoe insert, the Tool Band-It and the Soft Buns portable seat cushion.

"One of the things that we hope to do with 'Pitchmen' is to give people an appreciation of what we do," he told the Tampa Tribune this year.

"I don't take on a product unless I believe in it.

I use everything that I sell." He was born William D.

Mays Jr.

in McKees Rocks, Pa., and grew up in Pittsburgh.

He dropped out of West Virginia University and worked for his father's hazardous-waste trucking company.

In 1983, he ran into a high school friend who was headed to Atlantic City, N.J., to sell Ginsu knives on the boardwalk, a pitchman's hub at the time.

Mays went along for the ride and ended up becoming a pitchman himself.

His marriage to Dolores "Dee Dee" Mays ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife, Deborah Mays, of Tampa.
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