My Personal Funeral For Don Lapre (w/ 6 Videos Of Other Terrible Infomercials)

Don Lepre: Gone but not forgotten
We lost another icon of my youth over the weekend when Don Lapre, best known for his promises of mountains of wealth by merely placing tiny classified ads in newspapers around the country, committed an apparent suicide awaiting sentencing on fraud charges.

The late `80's and early `90's were the heydays for late night infomercials peddling get-rich-quick schemes and useless household appliances, and there was no one who epitomized the entrepreneurial spirit of duping late night stoners and drunks into buying a book about nothing more than Lapre.

Observe the master in action...

As you can see, the Lapre infomercials hit all of the sleazeball high spots:

Host peddling his wares while strolling on a beach, implying that "You, too, could be strolling on a beach someday!"? Check.

Tales of pennies from heaven (five million pennies per week, to be exact) raining down in his one bedroom apartment? Check.

Testimonials from clients who look like they stepped off of a poster of area sex offenders? Check.

Price reduction from list price of $149 for the manual to $39 (WOW! Almost 80 percent off!)? Check.

Sadly, Lapre's tale of woe is one we've heard all too often -- with the newspaper and 1-900 businesses dying in the internet age, Lapre could no longer keep up and had to turn to a life of selling drugs. Well, actually, he turned to a life of selling fake vitamins. Same thing.

I would ask that in this time of mourning, we all place that tiny classified obituary in our hearts for a man who was the king of fake ways to illegally make money, the self proclaimed king of the infomercial, Don Lapre.

In honor of Lapre's memory, let's conduct a de facto funeral right here on Hair Balls and allow some of the other giants of the infomercial universe to speak on their products, and entice you with promises of untold riches, juicy red meat, and a bigger penis.


As best I can tell, unlike Lapre, the diminutive Rice twins actually espoused methods that were legal in order to make your fortune. Essentially, they ask you to find people whose lives have been turned upside down with turmoil (divorce, unemployment, death, etc), vulture in, and make money on their homes. And yes, it took me seven times watching that video to figure out what the Rice twins do because I was mesmerized by twin midgets in matching suits talking to me. Sue me.



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where can i find all old infomercials with don lapre, i worked for him in late 80s


To his detractors, and the people he is accused of harming or defrauding, perhaps we might consider that Don is expressing the maximum in repentence, by taking onto himself, the death penalty.  Since he wasn't allowed to be out on bond, his options for a more comfortable, self imposed death, were severely limited.  Pretty sad to be limited to cutting yourself badly, and then waiting to die.  The US Government, The Feds, had stated their objective to take Everything he had And lock him in a cage for decades. I can understand how the prospect of even a bloody, painful death,  would seem much more appealing. Though Don had Not been convicted of Anything yet, he had begun serving a sentence, of unknown length, already, and since mid June. Held without bond, not allowed house arrest, nor an ankle bracelet. InstantJail.  That would overwhelm most people with depression, anxiety, hopelessness and panic. I agree with his final decision and can understand how he came to see it as best. He was a success at a lot of things, including remaining married to one wife for 24 yrs. May he rest in peace.

Tom Tuerff
Tom Tuerff

FYI: Lapre wasn't awaiting sentencing; he was awaiting trial. He realized he wasn't going to be able to get out of this one without doing something drastic.

I was Don's ghost writer on the original "Making Money" manuals, around 1990 or so. Since I didn't trust him as far as I could throw him, I got all my money up front. Consequently, I think I'm the only guy who ever worked with Don who didn't want to sue him.

Don's biggest problem was that he didn't think normal rules and laws applied to him. I never knew him to trust more than one person at any one time, and that loyalty could change in a nanosecond.

Somebody once eulogized a famous person by saying he was "a liar, a cheat and a scoundrel. And those were his good qualities." That was, pretty  much, Don Lapre. Granted, a charismatic cheat, who could shut people up by being "nice" to them (he could out-Elvis Elvis in the surprise gift department).

I did no work for Lapre after 1995, and never actually saw him again after 1993, so I can imagine that maybe he changed in the ensuing 16 years and became the "wonderful friend" his supporters are writing about. But I certainly didn't see it myself. And many people I have met since then,who worked for him and with him long after I did, never saw it either.


In the interest of full disclosure:

I sounded like Don Lapre, once.

It was accidental, but I did the "tiiiny classified ads" voice the first time my wife's fingernails clipped my prostate.

Just sayin'.  That will you raise your pitch. 

Shilly Mo
Shilly Mo

You know who else committed an apparent suicide while awaiting charges? Hitler.

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