Muntz - Eccentric used car king Earl William "Madman" Muntz became
famous for introducing an affordable TV set in Chicago in 1949. The set featured
a built-in antenna, one knob picture control and a low price which helped bring
down the price of televisions nationwide (a cost of ten dollars a screen
inch-$170 for a seventeen-inch screen-measured diagonally). Owning 72 stores, he
sold over $20 million sets by 1950. He was forced to sell his TV business when a
plan to sell an automobile (The Muntz Jet) failed in 1953-54. He later went into
the stereo business and created the Muntz stereo chain and the Muntz Stereo-Pak
4-track system, the direct ancestor of the 8-track.
The concept for "Madman" originated when Earl Muntz was selling cars. He wanted
an advertising gimmick that got people's attention, and so he hired artist Mike
Shore to come up with an idea. He designed a caricature of Muntz dressed in long
red flannel underwear and sporting a Napoleon hat.
Some sample catchphrases: "I
buy 'em retail and sell 'em wholesale. It's more fun that way!" and "I wanna
give 'em away but Mrs. Muntz won't let me. She's crazy!"
Born in Elgin, Illinois
in 1914, Earl "Madman" Muntz died in 1987. See also -