For anyone living in the New York metropolitan area throughout the s and s, Crazy Eddie was inescapable. A chain of electronics stores that eventually spread to 43 locations across four states, the business bombarded consumers with print, television, and radio ads that guaranteed name brand products at major discounts. I was trained to be a criminal. A high school dropout at the age of 16, Eddie Antar wasted no time in exploiting the burgeoning world of consumer electronics. It was the late s, and smaller, more portable transistors were about to usher in a new wave of products that would make Japanese brands like Sony and Panasonic household names. Before long, video game systems, VCRs, and camcorders would expand the market. Initially, Antar sold televisions from a small stand at the Port Authority, grabbing attention by talking fast and eventually wearing customers down. You steal more with a smile than you do with a gun. More importantly, people began to realize he was gleefully ignoring federal guidelines concerning pricing. Fair trade laws meant that manufacturers could insist on one standard retail price for all retailers.
The U.S. government is losing the war against white collar crime.
As breathless sales pitches occasionally remind us, everything must go. During the chain's eighteen-year history, it became something of a household name for people in the Tri-State area. But he provided plenty of crazy referrals to the unseen Eddie, whose purported mental health issues would allow customers to get the upper hand when purchasing VCRs, air conditioners, stereos, and so on. Carroll got the gig after reading a Crazy Eddie's radio commercial live on WPIX in New York; he communicated Crazy Eddie's insanity with such lusty commitment, stretching out the a in insane , that Antar hired him for what would become an iconic role. Those spots are part of a rich, strange mini-tapestry in American pop culture. They showed the clear influence of Madman Muntz, an electronics-obsessed salesman who made his name selling cars and later electronics with bizarre gimmicks and publicity stunts. Muntz and Eddie both likely contributed to the low-rent excitability of local commercials all across this great nation, which means we may owe both of them an affectionate punch in the face. This aggressive pitching was, of course, the perfect target for Saturday Night Live 's own excitable pitchman Dan Aykroyd, who has demonstrated a career-long fascination with fast-talking slickers.
Sure, his prices were insane, but for a generation of TV and radio fans, Crazy Eddie's commercials in the New York City market in the '70s and '80s were outrageous and outrageously fun. He was Antar started in the early '70s with a single electronics store in Brooklyn and his empire eventually grew to 43 stores in four states. After about a year run, Antar was indicted on securities fraud and insider trading charges and eventually served time in prison. Yet, everybody knew the commercials. They featured pitchman Jerry Carroll screaming maniacally about the chain's latest sale, usually tied to a holiday. What with gas lines, inflation and crime sprees, the whole world was going insane. Join us as we take a trip down memory lane with a few of our favorite Crazy Eddie commercials.
Crazy Eddie was a consumer electronics chain in the Northeastern United States. The chain rose to prominence throughout the Tri-State Region as much for its prices as for its memorable radio and television commercials, featuring a frenetic, "crazy" character played by radio DJ Jerry Carroll who copied most of his shtick from early TV-commercial pioneer, used car and electronics salesman Earl "Madman" Muntz. Unable to sustain his fraudulent business practices, co-founder Eddie Antar cashed in millions of dollars' worth of stock and resigned from the company in December