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Infomercial King Billy Mays
DEATH OF A SALESMAN
On June 23 Billy Mays—the ubiquitous TV pitchman known for his zealous, booming delivery—laughed and joked with Conan O'Brien on The Tonight Show
. "He was in great spirits," Anthony Sullivan, his longtime friend and costar on the Discovery Channel series Pitchmen
, tells Scoop. Five days later Mays, 50, was found dead in bed at his Tampa, Fla., home by his wife, Deborah. Despite speculation about a head injury suffered during a bumpy airplane landing, the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner said that Mays died of heart disease that was "capable of causing sudden death." It was a quiet end to a life defined by exuberance: Mays hawked everything from household products like OxiClean and Kaboom to insurance over the past decade and built a $1 billion empire in combined sales around his name. When he began starring in ads, "I would start by saying, 'Hi, Billy Mays here,'" he told PEOPLE in March. "I just wanted to tell people who I am before I [sell] a product ... I branded myself along the way without really knowing it." At the time of his death, Mays was still on the rise, with a new season of Pitchmen
and a deal with Taco Bell in the works. "My story," he told PEOPLE, "has been unbelievable."
IS ANNA PAQUIN ENGAGED TO HER COSTAR?
Anna Paquin, 26, and her True Blood
costar Stephen Moyer, 39—who plays her vampire beau—are a couple off-screen, but a report that they're "headed to the altar" is not true, her rep tells Scoop. (For more on Paquin, see page 38.)
HIS FIRST THRILLER!
The High School Musical
alum, 21, will star in an as-yet-unnamed "sexy thriller," reports The Hollywood Reporter
. He will also executive produce the project.
CSI: MIAMIThe Northern Lights
actor, 36, will be a regular on the upcoming season, playing an officer who joins the Miami squad from the Hollywood division.
The rapper, 30, will play a hard-nosed choir director from a rival school in the new TV musical comedy.
BRADLEY COOPER ON JEN: 'SHE'S SIMPLY A FRIEND!'
After Jennifer Aniston
, 40, and The Hangover
's Bradley Cooper, 34, enjoyed a romantic dinner at an N.Y.C. restaurant June 18, buzz about their courtship reached a fever pitch. So at a June 26 Louis Vuitton event in Paris, Cooper tried to explain their relationship: "She's a friend of mine," he claimed, adding they struck up a friendship after filming He's Just Not That Into You
. "She's a very, very interesting woman, but she's simply a friend." Hmmm...
On June 27 Kendra Wilkinson wed NFL player Hank Baskett, 26, at the Playboy Mansion in L.A. Wearing a dress with a fitted bodice that barely showed her growing baby bump, the Kendra star, 24, "looked like a princess," says Holly Madison (she and fellow former Girls Next Door
star Bridget Marquardt were bridesmaids). At the reception, Wilkinson saved her second dance for Hugh Hefner. "The wedding," a source says, "was magical."
THE People POLL
Are You Surprised They Split?
With the recent rumblings of a split, people.com readers weren't overly shocked at the news.
Nick & Vanessa
WHY IT'S OVER
After months of speculation over the status of their three-year relationship, Nick Lachey
, 35, and Vanessa Minnillo
, 28, have split. "It was a long time coming," says one source. "It just ran its course—they were growing apart and looking for different things." Following the announcement June 23, Minnillo was spotted leaving Lachey's L.A. residence several times, looking somber. While it may be difficult, "they're still friends," says a Minnillo pal. "It was the right thing to do."
Melissa & Tye
Dancing with the Stars
contestant Melissa Rycroft, 26, is still game. She and Dallas insurance agent Tye Strickland, 28, are engaged, her rep confirms. The former Bachelor
contestant rekindled her relationship with Strickland—who popped the question at White's Chapel in Southlake, Texas—after her engagement to Bachelor
Jason Mesnick ended.
Talk about creating a buzz! Glamazons Carmen Electra
, 37, singer Cassie, 22, and model Alice Dellal, 22, have razor-sharp looks with their individual takes on punk-inspired dos.
LINDSAY'S POOL PARTY
left the drama in L.A. and made a splash in Sin City to celebrate her 23rd birthday early on June 27 at MGM Grand's Wet Republic. With brother Michael, 21, and pal Brittny Gastineau, 26, by her side (ex Samantha Ronson was a no-show), Lindsay spent the afternoon in a VIP bungalow, but later let loose with seductive dance moves. "Life goes by so fast after 21," Lindsay told Scoop. The birthday girl also hung out with buddy Steve Aoki, who deejayed the event.
ED'S BOWLING BASH
Ed Westwick gathered pals, including Gossip Girl
costars Blake Lively and girlfriend Jessica Szohr (who flew in as a surprise!), for his 22nd b-day at N.Y.C.'s Lucky Strike. The group rocked out to tunes from Ed's iPod before singing "Happy Birthday." "Ed thanked everyone for coming and kissed Jessica," says a guest.
• 6/26, Las Vegas: Kim Kardashian hit the Sugar Factory candy store opening at the Mirage before helping sister Khloe toast her 25th b-day at Pure. • 6/28, Las Vegas: On-again couple Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green snuck away for a weekend at the Palazzo and caught Mystére
by Cirque du Soleil. "They were calling each other 'baby,'" says a source. • 6/28, L.A.: Courteney Cox Arquette
Arquette, David Arquette and James Marsden hosted Yogen Fruz's EB Medical Research Foundation benefit at the Malibu Lumber Yard.
- CONTRIBUTORS Mark Dagostino,
- Rennie Dyball,
- Jennifer Garcia,
- Kristen Mascia,
- Christina Tapper,
- with K.C. Baker,
- Pernilla Cedenheim,
- Mark Gray,
- Julie Jordan,
- Linda Marx,
- Liz McNeil,
- Peter Mikelbank,
- Eunice Oh,
- Natasha Stoynoff,
- Michelle Ward.