As a child, Soupy was one of my favs. I didn’t even know that he was Jewish, or was raised in West Virginia (like my wife’s family). The man was a genius.The Detroit Free Press writes:
Soupy Sales, the rubber-faced comedian who made an art form out of taking a pie in the face and delighted a generation of Detroiters with his loopy TV show on Channel 7 in the 1950s, died Thursday night in New York….
â€œHe was the first person from Detroit television whose first name had instant recognition from coast to coast,â€ said former Channel 7 anchorman Bill Bonds. â€œIf you said â€˜Soupy’ in New York, they knew who it was. If you said â€˜Soupy’ in Los Angeles, everybody knew who it was. I’d worked in both markets, and the first thing anybody said when I mentioned I was from Detroit was â€˜Soupy.’â€‚
Born Milton Supman in Franklinton, N.C., and raised in West Virginia, Sales was best known to Detroiters as the goofy yet cerebral host of â€œLunch with Soupy,â€ a half-hour show that featured Sales hamming it up in a variety of sometimes surreal situations.
The show, which began airing in Detroit in 1953, featured a cast of unforgettable characters: an incorrigible dog by the name of White Fang, â€œthe meanest dog in all Deeeetroit,â€ who communicated via a series of guttural noises; Black Tooth, an overly affectionate dog whom Sales would constantly tell â€œdon’t kissâ€; Hippy the Hippo, and Willy the Worm.
Of course, there were the pies. Sales once estimated that he took 9,000 pies in the face during the course of his career. [ I read 20,000 is more like it. – Ed.]
But the most famous of Sales’ bits was â€œlunch.â€ A typical menu might include a hot dog as the main course. Before Sales would take a bite, viewers would hear the sound of squealing pigs. Or, viewers might hear the sound of mooing cows as Sales sipped milk.
The lunchtime show was also known for its unpredictability. Sales would leave the set, camera in tow, and harass other Channel 7 hosts…..
Sales created a multitude of characters for his evening show: Charles Vichyssoise, a slippery French crooner who was forever sparring with unruly patrons at the Club Chi Chi; Wyatt Burp, and Ernest Hemingbone, who argued with his literary rivals.
Sales later admitted that the pace of doing a noon show and a 11 p.m. live comedy program â€” one hour of live television, five days a week â€” contributed to the breakup of his marriage, played havoc with his family life and left him exhausted.