Good Day World!
Do you remember Soupy Sales?
I grew up with him and always watched his shows. I stayed a fan of his right up until the end.
He was a fascinating man with many talents. Few people probably know that he held a Masters Degree in Journalism.
He was best known for his local and network children's television show, Lunch with Soupy Sales; a series of comedy sketches frequently ending with Sales receiving a pie in the face, which became his trademark.
Sales got his nickname from his family. His older brothers had been nicknamed "Hambone" and "Chicken Bone." Milton was dubbed "Soup Bone," which was later shortened to "Soupy". When he became a disc jockey, he began using the stage name Soupy Hines. After he became established, it was decided that "Hines" was too close to the Heinz soup company, so he chose Sales, in part after vaudeville comedian Chic Sale.
He enlisted in the United States Navy and served on the USS Randall (APA-224) in the South Pacific during the latter part of World War II. He sometimes entertained his shipmates by telling jokes and playing crazy characters over the ship's public address system.
One of the characters he created was "White Fang", a large dog that played outrageous practical jokes on the seamen. The sounds for "White Fang" came from a recording of The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Sales enrolled in Marshall College in Huntington, where he earned a Master's Degree in Journalism.
He’s best known for his daily children's television show, Lunch With Soupy. The show was originally called 12 O'Clock Comics, and was later known as The Soupy Sales Show. Improvised and slapstick in nature, Lunch with Soupy Sales was a rapid-fire stream of comedy sketches, gags, and puns, almost all of which resulted in Sales receiving a pie in the face, which became his trademark.
Sales developed pie-throwing into an art form: straight to the face, on top of the head, a pie to both ears from behind, moving into a stationary pie, and countless other variations. He claimed that he and his visitors had been hit by more than 20,000 pies during his career.
He recounted a time when a young fan mistakenly threw a frozen pie at his neck and he "dropped like a pile of bricks."
During the same period that Lunch With Soupy aired in Detroit, Sales also hosted a nighttime show, Soup's On, to compete with 11 O'Clock News programs.
The guest star was always a musician, and frequently a jazz performer, at a time when jazz was popular in Detroit and the city was home to twenty-four jazz clubs. Sales believed that his show helped sustain jazz in Detroit, as artists would regularly sell out their nightclub shows after appearing on Soup's On.
THE PUPPETS NAMES WERE:
- White Fang, "The Biggest and Meanest Dog in the USA", who appeared only as a giant white shaggy paw with black triangular felt "claws", jutting out from the corner of the screen. Fang spoke with unintelligible short grunts and growls, which Soupy repeated back in English, for comic effect. White Fang was often the pie thrower when Soupy's jokes bombed.
- Black Tooth, "The Biggest and Sweetest Dog in the USA", also seen only as a giant black paw with white triangular felt claws, and with more feminine, but similarly unintelligible, dialogue. Black Tooth's trademark was pulling Soupy off-camera to give loud and noisy kisses.
- For a short time there was a third dog character that became White Fang's girlfriend, Marilyn Monwolf. She caused some rivalry of affections between Blacktooth and White Fang, but later jilted them both for Joe Dogmaggio.
- Pookie the Lion, a lion puppet appearing in a large window behind Soupy (1950s), was a hipster with a rapier wit. For example: Soupy: "Do you know why my life is so miserable?" Pookie: "You got me!" Soupy: "That's why!" One of Pookie's favorite lines when greeting Soupy was, "Hey bubby... want a kiss?". In the Detroit shows, Pookie never spoke but communicated in whistles. That puppet also was used to mouth the words while pantomiming novelty records on the show.
- Hippy the Hippo, a minor character who occasionally appeared with Pookie the Lion and never spoke. Frank Nastasi gave Hippy a voice for the New York shows. Clyde Adler also voiced Hippy in the shows done in the late 1970s.
REGULAR LIVE CHARACTERS INCLUDED:
- Peaches, Soupy's girlfriend, visually played by footage of Sales in feminine costume.
- Philo Kvetch, a private detective played by Sales in a long-running comedy skit during the show's New York run (a parody of early 20th century fictional detective Philo Vance).
- The Mask, evil nemesis of Philo Kvetch, revealed in the last episode to be Nikita Khrushchev, who had been deposed about a year earlier.
- "Onions" Oregano, henchman of The Mask, played by Frank Nastasi, who ate loads of onions. Every time Oregano would breathe in Philo's direction, Philo would make all sorts of comic choking faces, pull out a can of air freshener, and say "Get those onions out of here!"
- Hobart and Reba, a husband and wife who lived in the potbelly stove on the New York set.
- Willie the Worm was a 35-cent toy Sales got from Woolworth's, according to WXYZ art director Jack Flechsig. With animated squeezings of his rubber air bulb, the latex accordion worm flexed in and out of a little apple. Willy was "The Sickest Worm in all of Dee-troit" and suffered from a perennial cold and comically explosive sneeze. He helped read birthday greetings to Detroit-area kids while the show was on WXYZ. Willie did not survive the show's move to the Big Apple.
MOST INFAMOUS BROADCAST
On January 1, 1965, miffed at having to work on the holiday, Sales ended his live broadcast by encouraging his young viewers to tiptoe into their still-sleeping parents' bedrooms and remove those "funny green pieces of paper with pictures of U.S. Presidents" from their pants and pocketbooks.
"Put them in an envelope and mail them to me", Soupy instructed the children. "And I'll send you a postcard from Puerto Rico!"
He was then hit with a pie. Several days later, a chagrined Soupy announced that money (mostly Monopoly money was unexpectedly being received in the mail. He explained that he had been joking and announced that the contributions would be donated to charity.
As parents' complaints increased, WNEW's management felt compelled to suspend Sales for two weeks. Young viewers picketed Channel 5. The uproar surrounding Sales' suspension increased his popularity. Sales described the incident in his 2001 autobiography Soupy Sez! My Life and Zany Times
From 1968 to 1975, he was a regular panelist on the syndicated revival of What's My Line? and appeared on several other TV game shows. During the 1980s Sales hosted his own show on WNBC-AM in New York City.
Sales died on October 22, 2009, at Calvary Hospice in the Bronx, New York, aged 83, from cancer.
Time for me to walk on down the road…