Police: TV pitchman Billy Mays found dead at home

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Modified: June 28, 2009 at 12:28 pm •  Published: June 28, 2009
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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Billy Mays, the burly, bearded television pitchman known for his boisterous hawking of products such as Orange Glo and OxiClean, has died. He was 50.

Tampa police said Mays was found unresponsive by his wife Sunday morning. A fire rescue crew pronounced him dead at 7:45 a.m.

There were no signs of a break-in, and investigators do not suspect foul play, said Lt. Brian Dugan of the Tampa Police Department, who wouldn't answer any more questions about how Mays' body was found because of the ongoing investigation. The coroner's office expects to have an autopsy done by Monday afternoon.

"Although Billy lived a public life, we don't anticipate making any public statements over the next couple of days," said Mays' wife, Deborah. "Our family asks that you respect our privacy during these difficult times."

Tampa area media outlets reported that Mays was a passenger on a U.S. Airways flight that made a rough landing on Saturday afternoon at Tampa International Airport, apparently blowing its front tires in an incident that left debris on the runway.

Tampa Bay's Fox television affiliate interviewed Mays after the incident.

"All of a sudden as we hit you know it was just the hardest hit, all the things from the ceiling started dropping," MyFox Tampa Bay quoted him as saying. "It hit me on the head, but I got a hard head."

U.S. Airways officials said Sunday they could not immediately confirm that Mays was a passenger.

Born William Mays in McKees Rocks, Pa., on July 20, 1958, Mays developed his style demonstrating knives, mops and other "as seen on TV" gadgets on Atlantic City's boardwalk. For years he worked as a hired gun on the state fair and home show circuits, attracting crowds with his booming voice and genial manner.


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