Barry Becher is a name you may not immediately recognize, but there’s a very strong possibility you’re extremely familiar with his television commercials. Becher, along with partner Ed Valenti, are credited as creating modern-day infomercial marketing with their Ginsu knife commercials. The ridiculousness of the television spots, coupled with some memorable one-liners and marketing slogans, helped establish Becher and Valenti as a force to be reckoned with.
Sadly, Becher passed away last Friday (June 22) from complications from surgery for kidney cancer. He was 71.
Becher and Valenti joined forces in the mid-70’s to peddle everything from kitchenware to jewelry using an assortment of gimmicks and over-the-top silliness that many of us simply take for granted nowadays. The Ginsu knife, the duo’s most memorable product, was sold through two-minute TV spots which boldly proclaimed the item to be available for a “low, low price”, with “operators standing by” to take orders. Just when you thought their deals couldn’t possibly get any better, they always followed up with the catchphrase, “But wait, there’s more!”
In addition to the Ginu commercials’ wacky narration, they also presented viewers with various demonstrations. If you needed to slice through a tree branch, the knife could help you accomplish this daunting taste. Need to cut a tin can in half? Ginsu is there to help you through the ordeal. However, despite all of the nifty things the knife could easily eviscerate, it was still sharp enough to cleanly slice a tomato at the end of the day.
As the popularity of their marketing techniques began to grow, so did their empire. Using nothing more than a telephone and a credit card, people could order a wide variety of items they never really new they needed. Over the years, Becher and Valenti produced the Miracle Slicer, Lusterware silverware, Armourcote and Royal DuraSteel mixing bowls. After roughly two decades in the business, the pair decided to end their run in 1990. However, several of their products, as well as their taglines and cheesy gimmicks, live on to this day.
Proving that Becher’s family has a sense of humor, even in the wake of their loved one’s death, they are considering “But wait, there’s more!” as the inscription on his tombstone.
Personally, I loved Becher and Valenti’s crazy commercials, and fondly remember goofing on them with my friends during childhood sleep-overs. Not surprisingly, other people have an unending love for their products, their gimmicks, and their commercials. You can find a sampling of Twitter reactions to Becher’s death below.
For more information, be sure to stop by Famous Dead.
RIP Barry Becher, co-inventor of the Ginsu knives. Sold $50 million worth of Japanese knives…made in Ohio.
RIP Barry Becher, but I’ll wait cause I know there’s more!
RIP, Barry Becher. Without you, we wouldn’t know how to easily cut through a tin can. http://t.co/qa0w07Eq
Must pause a moment in homage to best worst ad creater ever, Barry Becher of Ginsu knife fame: RIP. http://t.co/pEHTKHzZ
Co-creator of Ginsu knife TV ads dies http://t.co/sDWI6TU0 This news cuts through me like a knife on a tennis shoe. RIP, Barry Becher.