Death of an Ad Man

The king is dead, and none among us is worthy of his throne. I’d never met him or even read his name until today, but his words have etched deep grooves in my mind, into which my ad copy has gratefully slipped:

In Japan, the hand can be used like a knife…
NOW how much would you pay…
But WAIT, there’s more…

Yes, Arthur Schiff, whom the Post’s Paul Farhi calls “the unseen king of the infomercial,” has died at the age of 66. His most enduring creation? A blade of legend, which he supposedly renamed in his sleep, transforming the pedestrian Quikut into the exotic and powerful Ginsu….

His breathless (and deathless) prose is one leg of the holy trinity of influences on my writing style, along with late-night televangelists and the carefully crafted rantings of a certain Doktor of Journalism. I doubt I type a word without his having some sway upon it. Often copied, never equaled, a giant has passed from us into that good night.


Written by
Colin Delany
View all articles
  • Amazing how little press his death is getting.

    An interesting tidbit is that the Ginsu Knives were orginally named EverSharp, which didn’t sell quiet as well.

  • I’ve read conflicting things about that — the Post article said that they were originally called Quikut. It may be that the company that made them was called Eversharp but that the knives themselves were called Quikut.


  • […] Life is fleeting, of course, and blogging is by its nature an in-the-moment practice. Still, it’s sad to see so many sites die unpreserved, their content perhaps stored at, perhaps not. But the internet is vast and fickle, and a single decision (the death of Geocities! the pivoting of a publishing company!) can consign many hours of creative work to nothing. For those of us who live by our words and our images, the prospect is frightening…but really, it’s nothing new. Every artist in every age has had to confront the reality that what we create is an ephemeral flicker, our own little howl against the inevitable. That’s what makes it so damn urgent when we do it. […]