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August 30, 2015

Comic Soupy Sales passes away at 83

by Allison Waldman, posted Oct 23rd 2009 11:35AM
soupy_sales_2When I was a kid, I remember watching Soupy Sales. He had a children's show, The Soupy Sales Show, on channel five in the New York area and he was a wacky, funny guy. He had bizarre creatures around him, puppets named Pookie and White Fang and Black Tooth. Soupy did outrageous things and often ended up with a pie in the face. In a lot of ways, there might have been no PeeWee Herman if there hadn't been a Soupy Sales. In my memory, I always liked Soup and liked his show. On Thursday, Soupy Sales died at the age of 83.

In addition to The Soupy Sales Show, Soupy was a comedian. He played clubs and did shtick, and all through the 1960s and 1970s he was a regular on game shows, including What's My Line, To Tell the Truth, Match Game and Hollywood Squares.

But it was the kiddie show that really made Soupy special. The show developed into a cult classic because adults could laugh at it as well as kids. Famous people showed up to get a pie in the face, including Frank Sinatra, Mickey Rooney, Tony Curtis and Sammy Davis Jr. He also welcomed African-American jazz musicians to play on the show at a time -- pre-Civil Rights -- when that was not readily done. Soupy liked breaking the rules and was over-the-top. In his most famous moment, he nearly went too far.

On New Year's Day 1965, while stretching to fill, Soupy told the kids to go into mommy and daddy's wallets to find green pieces of paper with pictures on the front and mail them to their pal Soupy. In keeping with the gag, he promised to return a postcard to every child... from Puerto Rico. The incident was reported to the FCC and Soupy's show was suspended. You can't ask kids to send you money, even in jest. After a week of the air, public sentiment got the FCC to relent.

Here's Soupy's memory of the event:

On January 28, 1926, Soupy was born Milton Supman in Franklinton, North Carolina, a town where his father's dry goods store sold sheets to the local branch of the Ku Klux Klan. He got the name Soupy because the family's name was bastardized as "Soupman" and Soupy was nicknamed "Soupbone."

He was in the Navy during World War II where he entertained on board ship and after the war, he began doing stand up and working as a DJ before getting into television. His first solo program was a live children's show in Detroit called Soupy Sales Comics, followed by a late night entertainment called Soupy's On.

In 1955, that morphed into The Soupy Sales Show, and from that incarnation, he developed the characters and bits that would shape his future enterprises, including characters like Marilyn Monwolf and her vampire neighbor the Count, Willie the Worm, "Onions" Oregano and private detective Philo Kvetch.

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How can you not love a guy named "Soupy"?

October 23 2009 at 9:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Galley's comment
Patrick Singer

"Soupy" was his nickname.If you read the article,it says that he was born Milton Supman.

December 13 2009 at 11:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I will share more memories of Soupy on my own site, http://www.rowby.com over the next few days. I am digging up old Soupy Sales Fan Club memoralbilia, including a newsletter "Flash - POOKIE KIDNAPPED" -- yes the puppet Pookie was stolen for a few weeks and before it was recovered things looked pretty dire in Soupyland. Anyway, rest in peace Soupy -- your comedy lives on!

October 23 2009 at 3:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Anyone remember watching the game show he hosted called "Almost Anything Goes"?

October 23 2009 at 2:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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