Sunday, June 28, 2009

Remembering Local Boy Billy Mays

At first, I thought the announcement of his death was another hoax. I first saw it on Wikipedia's death page, where hoax deaths can still creep through. It sounded like the recent fake death announcements of Jeff Goldblum (fell off a cliff!) or the one of pitchman John Basedow (Killed in the tsunami!).

Alas, I'm wrong on this one.

Billy was kind of annoying, but kind of enjoyable. I couldn't hate Billy Mays. Pitchmen normally make my skin crawl. His whole undertone always seemed to be "I'm having a good time with this, and I'm making a pile of money." And, heck, that's American. You can't hate making a pile of money. Well, OK, most of us can't.

Billy Mays was from the same very small, very poor town that my husband called his hometown (and boxer Paul Spadafora, former "hair colorist to the stars" Bradley Johns, politician John Kasich, and footballer Chuck Fusina) - McKees Rocks, PA. Billy was two years older than one brother-in-law, and lived near my other brother-in-law (well, where "near" was "the same part of Florida").

Billy Mays was like Farrah Fawcett in that he made the best with what he had, which probably added up to millions of dollars before he died.

In many ways, his death is the most shocking celebrity death of a week filled with celebrity deaths. Ed was old. Farrah was sick. There was something sadly inevitable about Michael Jackson's sudden death at a middle age. But, Billy Mays? So full of life? So into promoting whatever he was selling? This one seems wrong. Is he selling some new product, that a fake death might help promote?

Probably not.

So, after about six weeks of making almost no updates to my Dead People Server site, I've gone and made another one for this week. Kind of sadly. I may not miss him that much, but there's something especially sad about this death.

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