Friday, October 23, 2009
Soupy Sales, RIP
"I don't mind you guys comin' 'round my house," Soupy Sales once said to the off-camera guys cracking up at his jokes, "but why'd you have to bring cameras in?" His afternoon TV show, aimed at kids and running in Detroit, Los Angeles and New York off and on from the 1950s through the '70s, had the seeming informality of a friendly fellow you'd hire to entertain the tots. He'd crack venerable jokes, play with puppets, teach the occasional verity ("Don't eat just before dinner") and, at the end, get a custard pie in the face. Simple stuff, really, but delivered with a brio that kept generations of children giggling. So his death Thursday, at 83, in a Bronx hospice after years of declining health, has to raise a tear, and a reflective silly grin.
Born Milton Supman in Franklinton, North Carolina, he served in the Navy during World War II and earned a journalism degree from Marshall College. In his first radio gigs, he called himself Soupy Hines, but changed it to Soupy Sales when he got a radio-TV spot in Cleveland. He later said he left that job, for health reasons — "they got sick of me." He clicked in Detroit, though, with his first TV kid-show in 1953. Supported by puppeteer Clyde Adler and a crew that provided the laughter (Soupy rarely worked before a live audience), he adapted the hip lunacy of TV's avant-comic Ernie Kovacs to his own sunny personality, frequently telling his viewers, "I love you and give ya a big kiss." They returned the affection. Lunch With Soupy Sales soon gained converts of all ages, and went national in 1959. For a brief spell in the early '60s he was a prime-time star; Frank Sinatra showed up to get a pie in the face.
Read the full story at Time.com.
To tie this in with The Countdown to Halloween, click here to download Soupy's song "My Baby's Got a Crush On Frankenstein".