WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. >> Barry Becher, a marketing mastermind and infomercial pioneer best known for bringing Ginsu knives to the American public, has died. He was 71.
Becher had been suffering from kidney cancer and died Friday at a hospital of complications from surgery, his stepdaughter Stacy Paradise said Wednesday.
Though Becher brought many campaigns to the airwaves with his business partner Ed Valenti, they are forever linked with Ginsu, the ubiquitous knives shown slicing through tin cans and chipping a wood block.
Millions were sold from the commercial’s debut in 1978 into the early 1980s, with audiences mesmerized by images of an exotic-sounding knife that seemed able to cut through anything. The infomercial promised a 50-year guarantee and “much, much more.”
Becher was running two AAMCO franchises near Warwick, R.I., when he met Valenti, an account executive for a local television station who was handling the auto shops’ advertising. They decided they wanted to find a product they could market through an extended TV commercial, the way some records were sold.
In the course of a decade, the men said they amassed more than $500 million in sales for products like the Ginzu knives, Armourcote Cookware, the Miracle Slicer, Lusterware Silverware and Royal DuraSteel mixing bowls.
Becher’s funeral was Monday and his family is considering etching in his tombstone one of the catchphrases he helped popularize: “But wait, there’s more.”