TBO.com reports on a new informercial filmed yesterday for Mighty Thirsty, the newest product from Mighty Brands. Anthony Sullivan inherited the role of Mighty spokesperson from the late Billy Mays. In this new spot, Sully is covered with Mighty Thirsty sponges, hooked to a parasail, then towed by a boat and dunked into the Gulf of Mexico to determine how absorbent the Mighty Thirsty sponges really are. We’re looking forward to seeing the footage, especially the behind the scenes action sure to show up in the new season of Pitchmen.
On June 29, 2009, Billy Mays died suddenly from cardiac arrest. Six months after his passing, Billy’s pitchman career is finally nearing its inevitable end. If you surf late night TV or dedicated infomercial channels, you might see him alongside his Pitchmen partner Anthony “Sully” Sullivan as they cut up everything in sight with the Dual Saw. But his short-form spots are running less and less. Some products that Billy used to pitch, like the Jupiter Jack, are now pitched by Sully in re-shot and re-edited spots.
The last infomercial shot by Billy Mays was for Mighty Tape, a flexible non-adhesive tape that seals leaks. He completed shooting this spot the day before he died. The product has now been renamed Mighty Fixit, with Sully again replacing Billy as pitchman. This new lower-budget spot omits the dramatic underwater scene where Billy repairs a scuba diver’s hose with Mighty Tape. I’ve always wondered if underwater filming somehow contributed to Billy’s death. Is it possible an air bubble got into his bloodstream and stopped his heart? I’m not a doctor, but just sayin’. It’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
Nothing wrong with Sully taking over from his old friend and partner. That’s business, and Mr. Sullivan is very good at what he does both in front of and behind the camera. Just noting with sadness the end of an era. Direct response TV will never be the same without the booming voice, blue shirt, khaki slacks and jet-black beard of Billy Mays, Jr. While some advertisements remain in the public consciousness for decades, most are forgotten and don’t outlive their usefulness as tools to generate sales. Future generations aren’t likely to know or appreciate the greatest pitchman who ever pitched a product.
Here’s the complete text of a press release issued today by Deborah Mays, widow of pitchman Billy Mays:
TAMPA, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Billy’s family and I have never agreed with the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s conclusion that cocaine use contributed to Billy’s death. We found this to be so upsetting that we asked for review by an independent medical examiner.
This review, conducted by Dr. William L. Manion, states that the autopsy results do not support the conclusion that cocaine was a contributory cause of Billy’s death. In fact, one of the few areas of agreement between the two reports is that it was a “natural” death. Dr. Manion goes on to say that if cocaine had been considered a significant contributing factor, the manner of death would be classified as “accidental” and not “natural.”
Dr. Manion’s report also says:
“…chronic cocaine use was not demonstrated by the autopsy findings of Mr. William Mays. In addition, there is nothing in his medical, social or professional history to suggest chronic cocaine use. Therefore, I do not believe cocaine played a significant contributing factor in the death of Mr. Mays as the autopsy specimens and findings are not consistent with the cardiac conditions normally observed in a person chronically using cocaine.”
Dr. Manion, M.D., Ph.D, J.D., is consultant medical examiner for Burlington and Ocean Counties, New Jersey and Chief of Pathology for Virtua Health in New Jersey. He is board certified by the American Board of Pathology in both Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and Forensic Pathology, and is a nationally recognized and respected expert in the field of pathology.
We believed at the time — and believe even more now based on Dr. Manion’s report — that the conclusions drawn by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner were not supported by the findings of the autopsy, nor by Billy’s medical history. And, although we cannot undo the damage that has already been done to Billy’s reputation, we are hopeful that this information will assist in clearing the name of a good husband, father and friend.
This has been a very difficult period for our family and we appreciate the continued support that Billy’s many fans have extended. We again thank these fans and the members of the media who have respected our family’s privacy. We are also grateful to Dr. Manion for his thoughtful and objective review of Billy’s autopsy information and the medical literature to make sense of Billy’s untimely death.
It should be noted that this press release does not refute the the original autopsy finding that Mr. Mays used cocaine in the days prior to his death. It only states there was no evidence of chronic use. Not that it matters to us or affects our high opinion of Billy Mays, Jr., the greatest pitchman of our time.
Don’t watch if you’re not a fan of South Park’s gross-out humor, but here’s a clip from the season premiere of South Park. The boys watch Billy Mays pitch a laundry product that solves a very specific washday dilemma.
TMZ.com reports that Mighty Brand president Bill McAllister has decided that Billy Mays is irreplaceable and is offering the role of pitching Mighty Products to Billy’s partner and Pitchmen co-star Anthony “Sully” Sullivan. More as we know it.
How many more as yet unseen Billy Mays products/infomercials are in the pipeline? I was previously unaware of this auto accessory: the MaxGrip Dash Tray. It seems kind of strange to see this debuting now, since I just noticed that Billy has been removed from the Jupiter Jack spot. I’m wonderin’ why that decision was made.
I’m really not happy about the way information was presented in the statement issued by Dr. Leszek Chrostowski, the associate medical examiner in Hillsborough County, Florida who conducted the autopsy of Billy Mays. Without any information regarding how often or how much Billy Mays used cocaine, and even though there was none in his system when he died, cocaine was listed as a contributing factor in his death. Dr. Chrostowski, this is a man’s reputation you are playing around with. It’s not your “teachable moment” about the perils of recreational drug use. I refer you all to the official family statement.
Your Savvy Shopper was playing a reunion concert with his old reggae band Friday night and missed this Billy Mays Resurrectifier commercial spoof on Jimmy Kimmel live. I’ll have to admit it’s cleverly done and includes a passable impression of Billy’s booming pitch delivery. So, do you deem this spoof to be playfully funny or does it disrespect the memory of Billy Mays?