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Infomercial king Ron Popeil dies at 86

Ronco's Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ, and Popeil's late-night infomercials pitching it, helped inscribe the phrase "set it and forget it" into the American lexicon.
Image: Ron Popeil
Ron Popeil in his office in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Dec. 8, 1982.Reed Saxon / AP file

Ron Popeil, the inventor and infomercial icon whose kitchen and direct-to-consumer products generated billions of dollars in U.S. sales, died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 86.

Popeil "lived his life to the fullest and passed in the loving arms of his family," a statement from his spokesperson said.

No cause of death was provided.

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Popeil first appeared on television in 1959 in an infomercial for the Chop-o-Matic, and his company, Ronco, founded by his father, eventually went on to produce products including Hair in a Can and Pocket Fisherman.

But Ronco's Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ, and Popeil's ubiquitous late-night infomercials pitching it, helped inscribe the phrase "set it and forget it" into the American lexicon.

In one infomercial, Popeil pitches his automatic pasta maker with characteristic enthusiasm:

Popeil promised consumers they could make "thousands and thousands" of types of pasta with his machine "in under three minutes."

His company also produced the Rhinestone Stud Setter, now known as the Bedazzler, as well as the Mr. Microphone karaoke machine, the Smokeless Ashtray and the Inside-the-Eggshell Egg Scrambler.

He is survived by his wife, four daughters and four grandchildren.

Reuters, Variety and Diana Dasrath contributed.