Michael Stephen Levey (May 28, 1948 – August 2, 2003) was known for hosting Amazing Discoveries, a series of infomercials that aired on late night television from 1989 to 1997.
One episode of Amazing Discoveries was titled Human Calculator, featured infomercial host Mike Levey and Human Calculator Scott Flansburg learning how you can improve your mathematical abilities with the Human Calculator program. This infomercial originally aired in the spring of 1991 on TNN.
Mike Levey’s Career
Mike graduated college as an electrical engineer and copy writer. In the 1970s he started Dial-A-Joke line called The Mainline in Los Angeles. In 1988, Levey and two partners founded Positive Response Television Inc., a company that produced infomercials. Levey rose to fame as the host of Amazing Discoveries, a series of episodic infomercials that began airing in 1989. Amazing Discoveries consisted of over 100 episodes and aired in more than 60 countries in 12 languages. His onscreen persona as the enthusiastic “Sweater Man” was often parodied in films like The Cat in the Hat and on the comedy sketch series MADtv. Levey also appeared as himself on episodes of Sliders, Friends, and The Weird Al Show.
In 1993 Mike Levey agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission $275,000 for consumer redress and to abide by broad restrictions on his future marketing projects. The FTC alleged that Levey made a variety of false and misleading representations in four separate infomercials that he produced and that the infomercials were deceptive as they were perceived as independent programming rather than paid ads.
As reported in 1996 by the Chicago Tribune, Mike Levey was the self-styled king of television’s ad phenomenon, the “infomercial.”
At the height of his fame, Levey received 500 fan letters a week and was dubbed “the most viewed person on television”. The success of the Amazing Discoveries infomercials also led to a spin-off infomercial series titled Ask Mike. In late 1995 Mike’s company Positive Response Television, Inc. announced an agreement to be acquired by National Media. The acquisition was completed in May 1996 for 1.8 million shares of common stock valued at $25.9 million. Amazing Discoveries aired its final episode the following year in 1997.
Mike Levey’s Death
On August 2, 2003, Mike Levey died from cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. His private memorial was held on August 6, 2003 at Mount Sinai Memorial Park. He was survived by his wife Lisa Levey and their three children.