‘Infomercial King’ Ron Popeil Dies at Age 86

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Known as the “infomercial king” and famed American inventor, Ron Popeil, has died at the age of 86. According to a source near the family, he was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center — located in Los Angeles, California — for a severe medical emergency on July 27, 2021. He passed away surrounded by his loved ones early the next morning.

Born Ronald Martin Popeil on May 3, 1935, in New York City, New York. By the age of three, his parents had divorced. Upon their divorce, they sent Popeil and his older brother, Jerry, to boarding school.  He remained there until he was eight years old — when his grandparents removed him to live with them in Miami, Florida.

PopeilAt the age of 13, he moved to Chicago, Illinois to work in the factory his father managed. By the age of 16, Popeil began selling the product the factory produced in flea markets — located on Maxwell street in Chicago. He stored his products in the back of a fish store. The young entrepreneur would start his day at five a.m. setting up his table — grossing as much as $500 a day. This was a huge success for a child in the 1950s.

He managed to save up enough money to get his own place by the time he was 17. Popeil set up a stand at the flagship Woolworth store there in Chicago. He worked 12-hour shifts; six days a week. His sales pitch quickly gained people’s attention; they would spend their lunch hour watching him.

In the early 1950s, Popeil constructed the first infomercial and commercials. His first commercial was black and white — one minute long — and cost a little more than $500.

The first TV commercial he did was for the Ronco Chop-o-Matic. After that, it did not take long for his name to be recognized nationwide. By the 1960s he was primarily selling his products on TV. For the next 50 years, he could be seen selling and pitching his products.

He is survived by his wife Robin, four children, and various family members.

Written by Sheena Robertson

Sources:

IMDb: Ron Popeil

NewsRadio 1110 KFAB: Ron Popeil, Ronco Founder And ‘Informercial King,’ Dead At 86; by Jason Hall

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Pedro Szekely’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

Inline Image Courtesy of Megan’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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