RETAIL GANGSTER: The Insane, Real-Life Story of Crazy Eddie

Alexandra Jacobs at the NYT:

The most famous TV ad in the Orwellian year of 1984, carefully themed to the novel named for this year, was for the Apple Macintosh desktop computer. The most infamous were those for Crazy Eddie, a chain of discount electronics stores in the New York metropolitan area.

Gesticulating wildly in a variety of costumes or just a gray turtleneck and a dark blazer, the actor Jerry Carroll, often mistaken for the mysterious Eddie, would rattle off a sales pitch ending with the vibrating, bug-eyed assurance: “His prices are INSANE!”

People hated those commercials, the journalist Gary Weiss reminds us in “Retail Gangster,” a compact and appealing account of Crazy Eddie’s artificially inflated rise and slow-mo collapse. But they worked — the company went public, with the inauspicious stock symbol CRZY — and also worked their way into punch lines of popular culture.

more here.