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September 3, 2015

Pitchmen pays teary tribute to Billy Mays

by Joel Keller, posted Jul 10th 2009 3:03PM
Billy MaysI don't know how true this axiom is, since I just made it up out of thin air. But it seems to me that, in the world of reality TV, you can edit a nice person to look like a jerk, but it's much tougher to edit a jerk into looking like a nice person. It's just harder to fake being a good person than it is to fake being a jerk. And what I learned by the entire season of Pitchmen, including last night's tribute episode, was that Billy Mays was a good guy.

Sure, he had an ego. Sure, there are probably production staffs out there who think the guy was a jerk because he was having a bad day when he worked with them. But, the entire season of Pitchmen showed that Mays was a fun-loving guy that seemed to be a dedicated family man; he also seemed to be truly committed to helping people realize their dreams through their inventions. Considering how many different people teared up during the tribute episode last night, I could tell the guy was loved and admired.

Last night's special also changed my mind about something: as I was watching the series, I used to cynically think that the "banter" between Billy and Anthony Sullivan was a setup, like they wrote lame comedy bits to insert between the earnest stories of people trying to change their lives via their inventions. While that may still be accurate to a degree, it really did seem like the two had a genuinely close friendship and bantered like siblings. That was brought home by Sully's tears as he talked about their relationship at the conclusion of the tribute show.

The part that got to me the most was the following interview he did with his mother. He talked about being on the road and how that affected his first marriage and relationship with his son Billy III, but also seems to be genuinely thankful that he was able to repair that relationship and start anew. So either he's the world's best actor or his emotions are sincere here.

It'll be interesting to see how long Mays' ads will stay on the air; according to the AP (via TVWeek), most of his ads will play for the foreseeable future. That by itself seems to be as fitting a tribute to the guy as anything.

Have any of you folks met or worked with Billy Mays? If so, share your tales -- good or bad -- here.

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all I know is that my son has been torn up since we heard...it was hard on him. Billy Mays was his hero and he is a dramatic person who always wanted to meet Mays. If nothing else, he made a lot of people smile.

July 12 2009 at 4:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Billy was the best. Worked with him for about a year and a half with iCan. He was a true friend and just a loving person! He will be missed by all.

July 10 2009 at 3:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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