The man behind the New York-based Crazy Eddie electronics chain, who served a long prison term for racketeering and stock fraud, has died. USA Today reports that Eddie Antar died Saturday at 68.
Antar’s death was confirmed Monday by the Bloomfield Cooper Jewish Chapels in Ocean Township, NJ., but no other details were given.
“Antar was the force, if not the face, behind the Crazy Eddie electronics chain whose pitchman dominated the airwaves in the 1970s and 80s with a motor-mouth delivery and the tagline, ‘These prices are insane!,'” USA Today reports. “The chain, which grew to 43 stores, was known for its deep discounts on electronics of a bygone era — stereos, VCRs and answering machines, as well as telephones and home appliances. And its over-the-top late night pitches were even parodied by Dan Aykroyd on ‘Saturday Night Live.'”
The Crazy Eddie retail chain eventually collapsed amid federal fraud charges. Antar fled to Israel for a period of time during his legal battle, but returned to the U.S. to face charges and wound up spending about seven years in prison.
“The Crazy Eddie chain went public with a stock offering in 1984,” USA Today reports. “But after soaring to fame because of its kitschy ads and stellar success, the retail chain soon became notorious for another reason. Antar’s cousin, Sam Antar, said in [a] CNBC interview that from 1969 to 1980, cash was being skimmed from the business — with copies of receipts tossed, and the cash from sales pocketed. ‘There was so much cash skimmed that we didn’t know where to put it,’ Sam Antar said.”
The pitchman used in the commercials was not Crazy Eddie himself, but radio announcer Jerry Carroll, who based his Crazy Eddie character on another electronics pitchman, Earl “Madman” Muntz.
Here’s a sampling of the Crazy Eddie TV commercials …