Saying Goodbye to an American Icon: Billy Mays

The death of infomercial legend Billy Mays has robbed us of a huge piece of Americana, not to mention one of the greatest television beards of all time. If this was a movie I would definitely be in the midst of a soul-searching montage right now. You’d see me walking down a deserted street with some leaves blowing in the distance, and then a shot of me sadly packing away old OxiClean and Kaboom containers into a brown box marked “Billy Mays”. Something by Chicago would be playing in the background, and you would be singing along to it because everyone secretly loves Chicago songs.


When Michael Jackson died last week, I kind of got that feeling you get when your car insurance goes up by $8, and you think to yourself “Really, why $8? Should I call about this? Is $8 worth a phone call?” But Billy Mays… well, this is nothing short of a tragedy. All this man wanted was to help make your whites whiter and your colors more colorful.

Billy taught us that the line between yelling and talking really loudly is blurry at best. He taught us that it’s OK for 50-year-old men to use jet-black beard dye as though it were part of a bad pirate costume. He taught us that long-sleeve denim shirts still have a place in the fashion world. And, most important of all, he taught us that it’s perfectly safe to jump out of an airplane using a parachute that was held together with Mighty Mendit.

I’m not sure what will become of the late-night infomercial circuit now that Billy is gone. I do know that it will be far-less compelling without him and all of us insomniacs will certainly miss him.

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