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Billy Mays dead at 50

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They say it happens in threes. We can all agree that M.J. and Farrah are 1 and 2. But who's 3? Ed McMahon, who died last week, or Billy Mays, the burly, bellowing spokesman for OxiClean?

But it is, after all, rather gauche to talk of a death that way. So we'll confine ourselves to the facts-- the famous pitch man of the OxiClean line was found dead by his wife on Saturday of causes that are yet unknown.

Mays made his breaks as an energetic and forceful salesman. In OxiClean commercials that became widely lampooned, Mays displayed the frenetic charisma of a carnival barker, and an avid devotion to his products. To us, he was cut from the promotional cloth of institutions like the WWE-- as hirsute as a hedgehog, and as musclebound as an arm wrestler, Mays cut a persuasive profile of machismo, of being a dude's dude, a bro's bro.

The cause of his death is unknown-- early speculations suggest that a blow on the head by falling luggage suffered during a turbulent airplane trip may have been a factor. Foul play has been all but ruled out. His wife noted that Mays felt unwell before going to sleep. By 8:00 A.M. the following morning, he was dead. He was 50 years old.