Monday, June 29, 2009

TV Pitchman Billy Mays Dies Suddenly at 50: Blood Clot to Blame?


By Nicholas Stix

Billy Mays is dead. The 50-year-old star of a thousand infomercials died in his sleep at some point between Saturday night and Sunday morning. Mays was most closely associated with the product OxiClean: “Powered by the air we breathe!”

On Saturday, the US Airways flight Mays was returning home on came in for a rough landing in Tampa, and something hit him in the head. When he was interviewed by a reporter from Tampa’s Fox affiliate, Mays lightheartedly recounted, “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.”

But his wife, Deborah, said he had felt ill when he went to bed at 10 p.m. that night.

I suspect that the blow to the head had caused a blood clot, which traveled to Mays’ lungs, heart, or brain, blocked an artery, and caused his instant death that night. I have heard of other cases in which someone was hurt by a sudden jolt to the head that was moderately painful, but did not seem to merit a hospital stay, and who suddenly died within the week, due to a blood clot that the jolt had caused.

The AP’s Mitch Stacy reports that William Mays was born in McKees Rocks, Pa., on July 20, 1958.

I remember the first time that I saw Billy Mays on TV. I thought that he was Bob Vila, the This Old House TV home repair guy whom Mays resembled, though the two had much different voices and styles.

I never bought any of Mays’ products, because I assume that all such products are con jobs, but I enjoyed his commercials as entertainment. (My current favorite TV pitchman is Vince, the “Shamwow” guy.) Mitch Stacy reports, however, that Mays believed in his products, used them all, and gave them out to visitors to his home, and even as gifts to the 300 guests at his second wedding, to his wife Deborah. The couple met when he was pitching products on the Home Shopping Network, where she worked as a buyer.

Mays’ first wife, Dolores “Dee Dee” Mays, who grew up with him in McKees Rocks, had only kind words for him.

“I knew him since he was 15, and I always knew he had it in him. He’ll live on forever because he always had the biggest heart in the world. He loved his friends and family and would do anything for them. He was a generous soul and a great father.”

Mays is survived by his second wife, “a 3-year-old daughter and a stepson in his 20s.”

“Long live your laundry!”

Farewell, Billy! RIP.

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