Earl Muntz was one of those incredible eccentric entrepreneurs that come along every once in a while. Earl dabbled in the automotive industry with his electronic ideas and eventually the Muntz Jet sports car.
There is an interesting page here about a film of Earl’s life and times
Earl William “Madman” Muntz (January 3, 1914 – June 21, 1987) 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. Muntz also pioneered car stereos by creating the Muntz Stereo-Pak, better known as the 4-track cartridge, a predecessor to the 8-track cartridge developed by Lear Industries.
He invented the practice that came to be known as Muntzing, which involved simplifying otherwise complicated electronic devices. Muntz produced and marketed the first black-and-white television receivers to sell for less than $100, and created one of the earliest functional widescreen projection TVs. He was credited with coining the abbreviation “TV” for television, although the term had earlier been in use in call letters for stations such as WCBS-TV. A high school dropout, Muntz made fortunes by selling automobiles, TV receivers, and car stereos and tapes. A 1968 Los Angeles Times article noted that in one year he sold $72 million worth of cars, that five years later he sold $55 million worth of TV receivers, and that in 1967 he sold $30 million worth of car stereos and tapes.
After his success as a used car salesman and with Kaiser-Frazer dealerships in Los Angeles and New York City, Muntz founded the Muntz Car Company, which made the “Muntz Jet“, a sports car with jet-like contours. The car was manufactured between 1951 and 1953, although fewer than 400 were produced.
Muntz married seven times. His wives included actress Joan Barton (who appeared in Angel and the Badman with John Wayne) and Patricia Stevens of the Patricia Stevens Finishing Schools. Phyllis Diller was among his many girlfriends. He was friends with celebrities such as singer Rudy Vallee, comedian Jerry Colonna, actor Bert Lahr, television presenter Dick Clark, and cowboy actor Gene Autry.