One year ago: Billy Mays
Billy Mays proved the enduring power of the hard sell, wrote The Times' Richard Fausset in an obituary for the well-known television pitchman who died a year ago at age 50.
Mays, with his booming voice and very dark hair and beard, became a TV celebrity selling such products as OxiClean and Mighty Putty. He even made fun of his image, appearing in ads for ESPN.
"You don't stay in this business as long as I have unless the products work," he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in April 2009. "When I say 'Billy Mays here for Mighty Putty,' all I have is my name and the trust of the audience. I would never let the consumer down."
Mays and fellow pitchman Anthony Sullivan were featured in a Discovery Channel show in which they searched for new inventions. They had taped the season finale of the show before Mays' death.
-- Keith Thursby
Photo: Billy Mays filming a commercial in 2009. Credit: Discovery Channel