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Billy Mays, star pitchman, dead at 50

The booming bearded TV hawker behind products such as Oxiclean and Mighty Putty has died.

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By Vivian Kuo CNN

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(CNN) -- Billy Mays, the man with the booming voice famous for fronting products such as Oxiclean and Orange Glo in TV commercials, has died.

Tampa police say Mays' wife Deborah found him unresponsive at his Tampa-area home Sunday morning. Tampa Fire Rescue pronounced him deceased at 7:45 a.m.

The cause of death is unknown. Police say there were no signs of forced entry to the residence and there is no suspected foul play.

Mays was on the US Airways flight from Philadelphia that had a hard landing Saturday at Tampa International Airport after the front tire under the nose of the plane blew out.

After the flight, Tampa TV station quoted Mays as saying, "All of a sudden as we hit, you know, it was just the hardest hit, all the things from the ceiling started dropping. It hit me on the head, but I got a hard head."

Airline spokesman Jim Olson told CNN Sunday there were no reported passenger injuries from flight 1241. The airline vowed to "cooperate fully" with authorities in the investigation.

"We were very sad to learn of Billy Mays' passing and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family," Olson said.

Tampa officials say the Medical Examiner's Office expects to complete an autopsy by Monday afternoon.

In a statement, Deborah Mays said that although "Billy lived a public life," the family does not plan immediate public statements about his death.

The Discovery Channel -- where Mays was in a show called "Pitchmen" -- issued a statement saying, "It is with incredible sadness that we have to report that Billy Mays died in his sleep last night. Everyone that knows him was aware of his larger-than-life personality, generosity and warmth. Billy was a pioneer in his field and helped many people fulfill their dreams. He will be greatly missed as a loyal and compassionate friend."

--CNN's Chuck Johnston contributed to this report. To top of page

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