"We can't get him up, ma'am," the woman says. "He's gone."
Born William Mays in McKees Rocks, Pa., on July 20, 1958, Mays developed his style demonstrating knives, mops and other "As Seen on TV" gadgets on Atlantic City's boardwalk. For years he worked as a hired gun on the state fair and home show circuits, attracting crowds with his booming voice and genial manner.
After meeting Orange Glo International founder Max Appel at a home show in Pittsburgh in the mid-1990s, Mays was recruited to demonstrate the environmentally friendly line of cleaning products on the St. Petersburg-based Home Shopping Network, now known as HSN.
Commercials and informercials followed, anchored by the high-energy Mays using them while tossing out kitschy phrases like, "Long live your laundry!"
HSN released a statement Monday morning, praising Mays as a "legend in the electronic retail history whose personality, entrepreneurial spirit and thoughtfulness for others have always been larger than life."
His ubiquitousness and thumbs-up, in-your-face pitches won Mays plenty of fans for his commercials on a wide variety of products. People lined up at his personal appearances for autographed color glossies, and strangers stopped him in airports to chat about the products.
"I enjoy what I do," Mays told The Associated Press in a 2002 interview. "I think it shows."
Mays liked to tell the story of giving bottles of OxiClean to the 300 guests at his wedding, and doing his ad spiel ("powered by the air we breathe!") on the dance floor at the reception. Visitors to his house typically got bottles of cleaner and housekeeping tips.
Besides his wife, Mays is survived by a 3-year-old daughter and a stepson in his 20s, police said.