One of Futurama’s quirkiest minor characters, “Malfunctioning Eddie,” was inspired by a real life story that’s so crazy a perpetually exploding robot is the only fitting tribute. Eddie’s real-world “programer”, Eddie Antar, passed away today at 68, but he left a strange and scandalous legacy behind.
In Futurama, the robot Malfunctioning Eddie was the proprietor of Malfunctioning Eddie’s Rocket Car Emporium. All of his cars had “insane prices,” meaning they were unreasonably priced – at the high-end of ludicrous. His excitable nature often caused him to explode, even when he was asked innocuous questions, all of which lead him to being committed to an insane asylum for crazy robots. At one point, Fry is even Malfunctioning Eddie’s roommate, which of course, ends in an exploding disaster.
The character was loosely based on the real life Eddie Antar, who founded a nation-wide chain of electronics stores known primarily for the catch phrase of having “insane” prices. Antar’s chain grew primarily in the 80’s and appeared to be a huge success. According to NPR “… at its height, the chain had 43 stores in four states.” But as the New York Times pointed out “…that success was illusory. In 1987, dissident stockholders staged a takeover of the company.” Following this, after accusations of fraud for the profits of his electronics stores, Antar was eventually convicted of racketeering and served seven years in prison.
Though these kitsch commercials made “Crazy Eddie,” famous, the man who appeared in the ads was a comedic actor named Jerry Carroll. Whether in robot form or human form, Eddie always seemed to have an avatar.
Still, he gave the world “insane” and memorably ridiculous commercials AND inspired one of Futurama’s most hilarious robots.
To be certain, the world would have been a little too sane — and definitely less fun — without Eddie Antar.