Madman Muntz

Advertising Pioneer + Inventor + Businessman + Electrical Engineer
Born Jan 3, 1914
Hometown Elgin, Illinois
Died Jun 21, 1987
Death Place Rancho Mirage, Ca...
Other Names Madman Muntz

Earl William "Madman" Muntz was an American businessman and engineer who sold and promoted cars and consumer electronics in the United States from the 1930s until his death in 1987. He was a pioneer in television commercials with his oddball "Madman" persona – an alter ego who generated publicity with his unusual costumes, stunts, and outrageous claims.… Read More

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News + Updates

Browse recent news and stories about Madman Muntz.

  • Madman's Masterpiece, In Plum News Times
    Google News - Jul 13, 2011
  • Wheelspin; Museums Get Lively With Sleepovers And Films
    NYTimes - Aug 12, 2007
  • Motoring; Yes, He Changed His Spots, But Cal's Still The Car Sales King
    NYTimes - Apr 08, 2007
  • Advertising; Fake Products And The Movies That Loved Them
    NYTimes - Jan 09, 2006


Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Madman Muntz.


1914 Birth Born on January 3, 1914.


1934 20 Years Old In 1934, Muntz opened his first used car lot, in Elgin, with a $500 ($ SENT_ in) line of credit. … Read More
1940 26 Years Old During a vacation in California, Muntz discovered that used cars sold there for far higher prices; so he moved to California in 1940 at age 26 to open a used car lot in Glendale. … Read More


1946 32 Years Old Muntz started plans to sell television receivers in 1946, and sales began in 1947. … Read More
1952 38 Years Old …  In 1952, Muntz TV Inc. grossed $49.9 million. … Read More
1953 39 Years Old …  Muntz admitted his business lost $1,457,000 from April to August 1953, and although he tried to reorganize, Muntz TV filed bankruptcy and went out of business in 1959. (The company would be reorganized and last through the 1960s, but without its namesake at the helm.) However, Muntz's success continued in the sale of cars and general consumer electronics. … Read More


1962 48 Years Old Muntz audio products were so profitable by 1962 that he cancelled his agreements with tape-duplicating companies and founded his own company to manufacture prerecorded Stereo-Pak cartridges. … Read More
1963 49 Years Old Bill Lear distributed the Stereo-Pak in 1963, intending to install units in his Learjet aircraft. … Read More


1970 56 Years Old 1 More Event
The market for Muntz's 4-track system had faded by 1970 due to competition from Stereo 8, which reduced costs by using less magnetic tape and a less-complex cartridge mechanism. … Read More


1977 63 Years Old Thanks to Muntz's talent for mass-market advertising and self-promotion, by 1977 the projection receivers were a multi-million-dollar business. … Read More
1979 65 Years Old In 1979, Muntz decided to sell blank tapes and VCRs, then he began buying movies on video and 'renting' them to customers for a dollar a night. … Read More
1984 70 Years Old Earl Muntz was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1984 and retired from the business in 1986. … Read More
1985 71 Years Old He made headlines in February 1985 as the first retailer to offer a Hitachi cellular phone for less than $1,000 ($ SENT_ in), when just two years earlier most cellular phones had cost about $3,000 ($ SENT_ in). … Read More
1987 74 Years Old Died on June 21, 1987.
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