So, to sum it up, we lost Ed McMahon on Tuesday, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson on Thursday, and then Billy Mays on Sunday. Four deaths in a week, with each one more surprising than the last. Sad times.
Was Mays the most well-known person in that group? Heck, he wasn't even the most famous William Mays. When you're "the Oxi-Clean guy," it's hard to get people to remember your name. McMahon, Fawcett, and Jackson were household names while Mays sold miracle products to clean those houses. And when you're talking about being a shining leader in one's craft, being a TV sidekick, blonde bombshell, or pop musician is probably an iconic feat. But infomercials? If anything, they're a cult fetish.
However, Mays was turning his 3:45 a.m. TV spots into a Discovery channel phenomenon. He and his Pitchmen co-star Anthony "Sully" Sullivan were on The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien just last week — in a freaky coincidence, the night of Ed McMahon's death:
I could go on about the futility of life, and how legacy supersedes mortality, then ramble through some other questions about life. And there's no contending we're all sad to lose McMahon, Fawcett, and Jackson. For those families, there will be mourning. But for their fans — the people who didn't know these people — their major contributions were basically done. (Even McMahon's fantastic appearance in Cash4Gold's Super Bowl commercial played off his lack of relevancy.) Mays, on the other hand, was a rising star in the TV celebrity industry.
Maybe that's what made his death most surprising and impactful of all. Already at a pinnacle in his career, he was still climbing higher. He had more to give. By another comparison, Heath Ledger's death was a tragedy because of his young age, not to mention infinitely bizarre as a result of his posthumous Oscar performance. But we already knew Ledger. The world was just being introduced to the 50-year-old Mays, his pristine beard, his billowy voice, and his methods.
So join me in silently weeping over the loss of Billy Mays. If you need to wipe your tears, I have just the thing for you.Powered by Sidelines