Fun Facts About Ron Popeil, In 5 Easy Installments

Ron Popeil/Facebook
Ron Popeil/Facebook

Long before there was Billy Mays, Anthony Sullivan, Matthew Lesko, or Vince “ShamWow” Offer, there was Ron Popeil, the so-called “Godfather of the Infomercial” and/or “Salesman of the Century.” But Popeil is much more than a straight-up pitchman. Here are 5 things you might not know about the Ronco founder.

1. HE’S AN INVENTOR FIRST.

Unlike other pitchmen (and pitchwomen) who are simply hired spokespeople for a particular product, Popeil is the brains behind the products he’s promoting. And that, according to Popeil, makes all the difference. "The fact that I’m an inventor first and salesperson second is the reason why so many people buy my products,” Popeil told Forbes in 2006. “If you create a product that’s needed in the marketplace, or a drug that will solve a medical problem, people are going to buy it. It’s so easy for me to sell my products because the market exists.”

But wait, there’s more…

2. NONE OF HIS INFOMERCIALS WERE SCRIPTED.

In addition to his many best-selling “as seen on TV” products, Popeil also invented many of the very same catchphrases you hear being shouted at the screen by today’s infomercial spokespeople, including the ubiquitous, “But wait, there’s more…” In a 2014 interview with the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Popeil claimed that the chatter heard on his infomercials was completely unscripted, including the Showtime Rotisserie’s famous “Set it and forget it” slogan.

But wait, there’s more…

3. HE INVENTED ‘GREAT LOOKING HAIR’ TO COVER UP HIS BALD SPOT.

In an interview with Forbes, Popeil explained that some of his inventions have arisen out of personal need. Case in point: Great Looking Hair, a.k.a. hair in a can. “I have a bald spot on the back of my head, and I saw the need for a product to fix [the problem],” Popeil explained. “So I created the spray-on hair. I carry a can of it in my briefcase wherever I go.”

But wait, there’s more…

4. NOT EVERY INVENTION HAS BEEN A WINNER.

In an interview with People, Popeil explained how his mind is always thinking of new products that the market needs. “While other people are shopping for clothes, I'm in the housewares department thinking out a new concept,” he explained. And while he’s undoubtedly one of the most successful inventors in the history of late-night television (he estimates that he has sold more than $2 billion worth of product), he has also brought a few clunkers to market. Including a home handwriting analysis kit and a subliminal message tape meant to help customers quit smoking.

But wait, there’s more…

5. THE BEASTIE BOYS REFERENCED HIM IN “CRAWLSPACE.”

The lyrics to The Beastie Boys’ song “Crawlspace,” off their 2004 album To the 5 Boroughs, begin with: “There's a party going on in here for real / I got more product than Ron Popeil.”

Contrary to many reports, the 1984 Weird Al song “Mr. Popeil” is not about Ron. As Yankovic explains in the album's liner notes, “It's not about Ron Popeil, the founder of Ronco, but about his dad, the guy who invented the Vegamatic and the Pocket Fisherman. He did pitches for them on TV before Ronco was started. Mr. Popeil was a big facet of American pop culture; he started the whole genre of marketing these gimmicky gadgets on TV. Around the time I was writing the song, I came across a magazine article about me, and right next to it I saw a story about Mr. Popeil's daughter, Lisa Popeil, who was a classically trained singer who had worked with Frank Zappa. I thought it would be great if we could get her to sing on the track, and she agreed to do it. It was very odd, though, to be in the studio directing Lisa how to sing her own name!”

It's Official: Benedict Cumberbatch Is Confirmed for Doctor Strange Sequel

Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios

Just when Marvel fans began focusing all of their attention on poring over even the tiniest details in the Avengers: Endgame trailer, Marvel has announced that a Doctor Strange sequel is officially happening.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Scott Derrickson will return to the director’s chair, and although he co-wrote the first film alongside Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill, no writer has been announced for the second outing yet.

Benedict Cumberbatch will, of course, reprise his role as Dr. Stephen Strange, and Benedict Wong will be returning as Wong. Industry insiders suspect Rachel McAdams will be back as Strange’s love interest, Dr. Christine Palmer, but no formal announcement has been made.

We last saw Doctor Strange earlier this year in Avengers: Infinity War, where he sadly disintegrated into dust at the hands of Thanos’s snap. As most fan theories believe, many of our favorite superheroes will be brought back to life in Avengers: Endgame, which will be the next time we see Cumberbatch’s character. Although his appearance in Avengers: Endgame might only be through flashbacks, and Doctor Strange 2 could still take place before Infinity War, it’s not likely.

Sources say production is being eyed for a spring 2020 start, with a suspected release date around spring 2021. But a lot can happen between now and then, especially depending on what Avengers: Endgame reveals.

George RR Martin Swears He'll Finish The Winds of Winter—He Just Won't Say When

Rich Polk, Getty Images for IMDb
Rich Polk, Getty Images for IMDb

It would be an understatement to say Game of Thrones fans are in a bit of distress right now. For one, we have the eighth and final season of the HBO series, which will premiere in April, looming over us. At the same time, we’re scrambling to gather any information we can about the Game of Thrones prequel series. But above all, we’re waiting for George RR Martin to finish The Winds of Winter, the next novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, which inspired the beloved TV show.

The Winds of Winter has been particularly difficult for Martin to finish, according to the acclaimed author. In order to keep active, he has focused his efforts on other projects, such as his recently released companion book Fire and Blood. This perceived procrastination hasn't sat well with his fans—some of whom are convinced we will never see his ending to the story.

Martin has heard all the complaints, and took to his blog on December 10 to give an update on the novel that fans have been awaiting for more than seven years, writing:

"[M]y thanks go out to my fans and readers. I know you want WINDS, and I am going to give it to you ... but I am delighted that you stayed with me for [the new book Fire & Blood] as well. Your patience and unflagging support means the world to me. Enjoy the read. Me, I am back in my fortress of solitude, and back in Westeros. It won’t be tomorrow, and it won’t be next week, but you will get the end of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE."

While there's no reason to doubt the veracity of Martin's promise, fans are understandably still skeptical. After The Winds of Winter, there’s still one more novel, A Dream of Spring, to close out the story. At this point, we’re probably better off counting down the days until Game of Thrones's final season premieres ... or the prequel series.

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