Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Soupy Sales To You

A little girl is at the barber getting her hair cut and she's eating one of those Hostess cupcakes or something. The barber says, "You know, you're getting hair on your Twinkie." Little girl says, "Yeah. I'm getting boobs too!"

Soupy Sales has left the building. Soupy was a television pioneer. He created the model for children's programs that also appealed to adults. Pee Wee's Playhouse would not have existed without Soupy. It was crafted from the template Soupy invented. A one room set with puppet friends, guests knocking on the door (often remaining offscreen), old black and white stock footage, speaking directly to the camera, double entendres and a lotta food. The one difference being that Soupy did it live. Five days a week.

And now, here's today's important Crimestoppers. If you witness a robbery and the thief runs right past you, the best way to catch him is wait until he climbs over a fence and tears his pants. Then you'll find his hideout.

Soupy was born Milton Supman on January 8, 1926 in Franklinton, North Carolina. His father died when Soupy was just 5, prompting the family to move to Huntington, WV, where Soupy grew up, eventually attending Marshall College in Huntington after a stint in the Navy during World War II. His career in the entertainment business began while he was attending Marshall. He worked as a comedian, singer and dancer in area nightclubs and theaters. After college, he picked up his first broadcasting job at radio station WHTN in Huntington.

Soupy had two older brothers. His parents had nicknamed them "Ham Bone" and "Chicken Bone". Young Milton was dubbed "Soup Bone", eventually shortened to Soupy. He was using the stage name "Soupy Hines" when he started his radio gig, but quickly changed it to Soupy Sales, in honor of vaudeville performer Chic Sale.

On tonight's Name That Tune, a contestant who is asked to name that tune names it Bernie and is thrown off the show.

My great grandfather, Hymie Bank, owned the Cinderella Theater in Williamson, WV. It originally opened as a vaudeville house, but following the trends, became a movie house with occasional live entertainment and attractions. While attending Marshall College, Hymie sometimes booked Soupy to do his act there. At one of these appearances, my great grandfather pulled Soupy aside. He told him, "You know, you're a bright young man. I like your act, you're very professional and you're going to Marshall. But there's one thing that's bothering me." Soupy replied, "What's that, Mr. Bank?" Hymie told him, "You need a haircut." Soupy said he would go get one first thing in the morning.

Old man walks into confession and he tells the priest, "Every night for the last month, I've made love to a different beautiful young lady." Priest tells him to say one hundred Hail Mary's. Old man says, "Well, I ain't Catholic. I ain't doing that." Priest says, "If you're not Catholic, why are you telling me?" Old man says, "I'm telling everybody!"

From Huntington, Soupy moved on to Cincinnati, where he got his first television experience. He hosted Soupy's Soda Shop, the very first teen dance TV show, and the late night Club Nothing. This was in 1949. From Cincinnati, Soupy moved on to Cleveland for another local television show, Soupy's On! It was here that Soupy first began using a pie in the face as a visual punchline. (This would become one of his trademark gags.) In 1953, Soupy relocated to Detroit, where he would eventually get his first national exposure.

At ABC owned WXYZ in Detroit, Soupy hosted the local Lunch With Soupy Sales. It quickly became a smash hit. It was in Detroit that Soupy met Clyde Adler, who became an integral part of the Soupy's production team for most of his television career.After 6 years of honing the show, ABC picked it up nationally in 1959 and there was no looking back. In less than a year, ABC moved the operation to Los Angeles

A guy is walking down the street with two monkeys. Another guy asks him where he's going with those monkeys. He replies he's going to the taxidermist. "You gonna have 'em mounted?" "No. Just shaking hands."

Soupy's Los Angeles run ended up being a relatively brief stop/start affair. While the show aired locally continuously from 1960 - 1964, ABC pulled it from the national schedule in 1961, with a brief three month fill-in for The Steve Allen Show in 1962. Frustrated, Soupy went to WNEW in New York City in 1964, where he would find the greatest success of his career and where he would remain for most of the rest of his life.

An old man goes to the doctor and tells him, "I can't pee. Doctor asks, "How old are you?" Old man says 102. Doctor says, "You peed enough."

While in NYC, The Soupy Sales Show became THE hip show that all the celebrities wanted to get on. Frank Sinatra started the trend by calling Soupy and asking to be on, but under one condition. He wanted to get a pie thrown in his face. Instantly, the top stars of the day were beating down Soupy's door. Figuratively and literally. Sammy Davis Jr., Trini Lopez, Tony Curtis, Jerry Lewis and Judy Garland all appeared on the show, as did a number of pop musicians, such as The Supremes and The Shangri-Las. He was also able to feature recorded music and appearances from a number of jazz greats, jazz being a particular passion of Soupy's.

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The Soupy Sales Show shut down in late 1966. Soupy next moved into numerous game show appearances, as well as DJing and a brief return to afternoon television with The New Soupy Sales Show from 1978 - 1979. He continued doing club dates, films and personal appearances throughout. I'm very happy to offer a zip file of a 1980 appearance at NYC's Bottom Line. And you can grab a wonderful hour long Tom Snyder interview with Soupy from 1990 right hyah.

Blind man and his seeing eye dog walking down the street. They stop at a corner and the dog raisess his leg and pees all over the man's pants and shoes. Blind man reaches into his pocket and pulls out a cookie for the dog. Lady comes up and says, "You're gonna give that dog a cookie after what he did to you?" Blind man says, "No. I'm looking for his head so I can kick him in his ass!"

Soupy was survived by his wife of almost 30 years, Trudy Carson, and his two sons Hunt and Tony, a rhythm section for hire who played with Iggy Pop and David Bowie, among others.

I never knew Soupy. I was very lucky to have met him briefly after a Bottom Line show about a decade ago. I wasn't around for Soupy's heyday, but I fell in love with The New Soupy Sales Show for the two years it was syndicated nationally. Over the years I've accumulated all the records, tapes and DVDs I could find and he never failed to entertain me. With Soupy gone, the world is a little less joyous and a little bit grayer. I'll leave you with my favorite Soupy joke.

A woman walks into a pharmacy and asks the druggist, "Do you have cotton balls?" The druggist replies, "What do I look like? A teddy bear?"

And now I love you and gimme a kiss.

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