Dead, Soupy Sales on October 22, 2009 at the age of 83, he was an American comedian, actor, radio-TV personality and host, and jazz aficionado.
Born Milton Supman on January 8, 1926 in Franklinton, North Carolina, to Irving and Sadie (née Berman) Supman, his father, a dry goods merchant, had immigrated to America from Hungary in 1894.
Sales had three siblings: Marvin Supman (1916-1920) who died during childhood, Doctor J. Leonard Supman (1918-1998) and attorney Jack Supman (1921-2014).
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 graduated from Huntington High School in Huntington, West Virginia in 1944.
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.
He moved to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1949, where he worked as a morning radio DJ and performed in nightclubs.
Sales began his television career on WKRC-TV in Cincinnati with Soupy’s Soda Shop, TV’s first teen dance program, and Club Nothing!, a late-night comedy/variety program.
When WKRC canceled his TV shows, Sales moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he hosted another radio and TV series on WJW-TV (Channel 8) and continued his nightclub act.
He launched his TV career in 1953 with the live children’s show “Soupy Sales Comics” on a Detroit station, which led to a night-time show called “Soupy’s On.”
The show was renamed “The Soupy Sales Show” in 1955, and it was in that version that he honed his stable of wacky characters, such as seductive Marilyn Monwolf and her vampiric neighbour the Count, Willie the Worm, “Onions” Oregano and private detective Philo Kvetch.
While meant for kids, the show developed a cult following among adults in the early 1960s as it spread in syndication, with Sinatra’s pie-slap helping to open the door for a series of celebrity pie cameos.
In 1964, Sales found a new weekday home at WNEW-TV in New York City.
This version was seen locally until September 1966, and 260 episodes were syndicated by Screen Gems to local stations outside the New York market during the 1965–66 season.
This show marked the height of Sales’ popularity. It featured guest appearances by stars such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, Jerry Lewis, Judy Garland and Sammy Davis, Jr., as well as musical groups like the Shangri-Las, The Supremes and The Temptations.
In the mid-1980s, Sales returned to radio with a show on New York’s WNBC.
He turned to writing recently, penning his autobiography, Soupy Sez!: My Zany Life and Times, in 2003.
A collection of his humour, Stop Me If You’ve Heard It!: Soupy Sales’ Greatest Jokes, was published that same year.
In 2005, Sales received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.