Ron Popeil Was The Sizzle Of American Ingenuity, Personified

FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 8, 1982 file photo, Ron Popeil, the man behind those late-night, rapid-fire television commercials that sell everything from the Mr. Microphone to the Pocket Fisherman to the classic Veg-a-Matic, sits surrounded by his wares in his office in Beverly Hills, Calif. Ron Popeil, the quintessential TV pitchman and inventor known to generations of viewers for hawking products including the Veg-O-Matic, the Chop-O-Matic, Mr. Microphone and the Showtime Rotisserie and BBQ, died Wednesday, July 28, 2021 his family said. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

Ron Popeil, an American original who died this week at 86, thrived in the world of infomercials and home-shopping channels. From roots as an open-air salesman in Chicago, he became a pop-culture icon in the late 20th century by inventing and selling various consumer gadgets from the Popeil Pocket Fisherman to food dehydrators to hair in a can. But his ability to be a connecting thread between old-time salesmen and the video age was his real superpower. For millions of Gen Xers, he occupied a space somewhere between comedy and smart, homespun business. How he built and spun that image created his immense appeal. Ron Popeil, dead at 86.


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