Discovery Channel star and pitchman Billy Mays, dead at 50

Iconic American pitchman and reality TV star Billy Mays, whose trademark voice sold an assortment of products via commercials, died in his sleep at home.  Mays was 50 years-old.

"Everyone [who knew] him was aware of his larger-than-life personality, generosity and warmth," the Discovery Channel said in a statement. "Billy was a pioneer in his field … He will be greatly missed as a loyal and compassionate friend. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family at this time of incredible loss."

Billy Mays and Anthony “Sully” Sullivan were two famous pitchmen who were packaged and presented as a reality TV series by Thom Beers (Ice Road Truckers) in a series titled, "Pitchmen."

Discovery bought the 13-part original series, which aired back in April, that introduced viewers to the dreamers, tinkerers and inventors who believe they have created the next must-have product. Sully and Mays were given assignments to sell their goods.

May's series for Dsicovery was produced by Original Productions. Thom Beers, Philip D. Segal, Billy Mays, Anthony Sullivan and Chris Wilson were executive producers
. Jeff Conroy was co-executive producer and Steve Jones was series producer.

The Associated Press reported that the 50-year-old was pronounced dead Sunday morning after being found by his wife, Deborah Mays.

An autopsy is expected to be performed by Monday afternoon.

People reported that Mays began his selling career on the boardwalk of Atlantic City in the 1980s; years later his signature voice was used to sell Oxi Clean and Kaboom.

"My voice has gone for 16 hours straight," Mays told People.

Further Reading on M&C