Soupy Sales (January 8, 1926 – October 22, 2009) was an American comedian, actor, radio-TV personality and host, and jazz aficionado. 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.
When he passed away this year, many looked back very fondly at this TV icon and his legacy of making people laugh...
Pioneer of the whipped cream pie, Soupy Sales is known the world over as one of the most popular variety show hosts of all time. With his squished hat and ridiculously oversized bow tie, he appealed to children, adults and everyone in between with his crazy hi jinx, his pets (dogs White Fang and Black Tooth - who spoke in their own secret language that only Soupy could decipher, Pookie the Lion, Hippie the Hippo, Willie the Worm and Herman the Flea) and his fantastic guests. But did you know the story behind the man who claims to have been the recipient of nearly 20,000 pies-in-the-face?
Born in small town North Carolina and raised in small town West Virginia, Milton Supman (Soupy was a childhood nickname) always had a flair for the comedic. He cultivated this flair on the radio and in nightclubs under the name Soupy Hines, and he started to develop quite a following. So much so, that television was the next logical step.
It started with the local Cincinnati show Soupy's Soda Shop, the first of the teenage dance shows. It was so successful, that Soupy soon branched out with The Soupy Sales Show.
The Soupy Sales Show was, in the very beginning, a live fifteen-minute summer replacement show for Kukla, Fran and Ollie, which aired in Detroit in 1955. But it soon went national - and became one of the most beloved shows of the '50s and '60s. Kids loved it because Soupy wasn't afraid to carry on like one of them, adults loved it because his style of humor appealed to all levels - not just the kiddies.
Of course, adults didn't love Soupy all the time. A New Year's Day, 1965 stunt had parents in an uproar and, as a matter of fact, almost ended his career! As a joke, Sales told his young viewers to sneak into their parent's wallets and "take some of those green pieces of paper with pictures of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Lincoln, Jefferson" and such on them...and send them to him! If they did this, he claimed, he would send them a postcard from Puerto Rico. Rumors say that Sales received over $80,000 in responses (though still other rumors say most of this was in Monopoly money), and the jokester was suspended from television for a week.
Outraged parents aside, still more fans found this little episode hilarious - and very much in keeping with the show's zany brand of humor. In any event, it wasn't the only time parents would complain to ABC about Soupy's shenanigans. He knew how to push the envelope just far enough - and it was a formula that kept him on top for over three decades. And while one of his most popular, The Soupy Sales Show wasn't the only show that featured his monkey business. In 1968, he began a seven-year stint on the panel of the hit What's My Line, and in 1975 he hosted ABC's Jr. Almost Anything Goes before moving on to Love Experts, Crosswits, and, later on, The New Soupy Sales Show and AM New York. He also went on to co-star on Sha Na Na for three years and became something of a regular on TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes. All this, of course, was in addition to appearances on countless talk shows, game shows and practically every other type of show you can imagine.
In a time when we could all use a little more laughter, there is with his passing a little less.