November 15, 1995
Web posted at: 7:40 a.m. EST
From Correspondent Gloria Hillard
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- It was more than 30 years ago, before anyone even uttered the word "informercial." Instead, the mantra was "as seen on TV." (432K QuickTime movie)
And before he dehydrated meat, sprayed on hair or pulled a rod and reel out of his pocket, a part of him was there from the very beginning. You saw his hands and you always remember him saying, "And it's only 3.98!" and "This special TV offer."
And today, you can see all of Ron Popeil for 30 minutes at a time in the middle of the night, tirelessly hawking gadgets that we just can't live without. He's the ultimate idea man. Remember the Veg A Matic or the Smokeless Ash Tray? (656K QuickTime movie)
Or maybe you remember the Egg Scrambler. "I know you're going to ask me about this fine product," Popeil says as he scrambles the egg inside its shell with the gadget.
His inventions and marketing have made him a very wealthy man. He's sold over $1 billion in merchandise over the last 40 years. "I work because I enjoy working. I don't work because I have to work," Popeil says. (56K AIFF sound or 56K WAV sound)
Maybe the secret to his success was his early approach to survival. "What use to drive me was insecurity. No mother, no father, the first 16 years of my life. You never know when something is going to come by and take everything you put together away from you. (192K AIFF sound or 192K WAV sound) The chance of that happening is still extremely remote, but it's still at the back of my mind," he says.
No matter where that thought lingers, out on the street, the 60-year-old entrepreneur is a celebrity. People stop him everywhere he goes for an autograph.
And he's the ultimate salesman. Just ask his dog. A little bald spot on the elbow is easily repaired with black hair spray paint, and old Rover is as good as new.
Products like Mr. Microphone and the Record Vacuum are now collectibles. And this year, Popeil is even bringing back the Pocket Fisherman.
So before you throw away that gadget that stirs the coffee or wallpapers the house or bathes the dog, you might want to see it through Ron Popeil's eyes, as pop art of the future. And if you order now ...
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