Today is the 96th birthday of the comedian Soupy Sales. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.
NAME: Soupy Sales
OCCUPATION: Television Personality
BIRTH DATE: January 8, 1926
DEATH DATE: October 22, 2009
EDUCATION: Marshall University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Franklinton, North Carolina
PLACE OF DEATH: The Bronx, New York
BEST KNOWN FOR: Comedian and pie-throwing television personality Soupy Sales was the popular host of such shows as Lunch with Soupy Sales and the Soupy Sales Show.
Soupy Sales was born Milton Supman on January 8, 1926. He worked as a radio scriptwriter while moonlighting as a comedian, and eventually became a DJ and then a television personality. The Soupy Sales Show became Los Angeles’s number one show and drew such stars as Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. He later returned to radio and wrote books, including his autobiography. He died in New York City on October 22, 2009.
Comedian and television host Soupy Sales was born Milton Supman on January 8, 1926, in Franklinton, North Carolina. The youngest of three sons born to dry-goods store owners, Soupy grew up in Huntington, West Virginia, and received his B.A. in journalism from Marshall University. He landed a local job as a radio scriptwriter after college, moonlighting as a comedian. The radio station eventually moved him on air and he became the top-rated DJ in the area.
The name Soupy Sales was derived from two things: “Soupy” was a childhood nickname and “Sales” was the suggestion of an Ohio television manager who knew of a comic named Chick Sale. In 1950, Soupy moved to Cincinnati to pursue a television career, starting with America’s first teen dance show, Soupy’s Soda Shop. He followed with a variety show featuring his own zany antics called Club Nothing.
After moving to Detroit in 1953, Soupy quickly became a popular television personality, especially among young audiences with such children’s shows as Lunch With Soupy Sales. The comedian spent seven years on air in Detroit, eventually producing 11 hours of TV time each week.
Soupy moved to the West Coast in 1960, and the Soupy Sales Show became Los Angeles’ number one show by the following year. Luring such guest stars as Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr., Soupy was beloved by viewers as much for his wild personality as his signature pie-throwing antics. He moved the show to New York in 1964, and it was syndicated throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand during the next two years.
One of Soupy’s most notorious stunts occurred in 1964, when he jokingly told his young audience to “take some of those green pieces of paper with pictures of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Lincoln and Jefferson on them” from their parents’ wallets and send them to him. Several viewers did send Sales some money, but all were returned. Though he was suspended from television for a week, the stunt actually boosted his ratings.
Soupy’s talents were not confined to television, however. He recorded a number of chart-topping albums, including The Mouse and Spy with a Pie. He also gave live performances on Broadway, in dinner theaters and at comedy clubs. In the late 1960s, he became a regular on the improvisational program What’s My Line?, staying for seven years. Throughout the 1970s, Soupy lent his wacky sense of humor to numerous game and variety shows, including Jr. Almost Anything Goes, Sha Na Na and TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes.
What’s My Line? Panelist (1968-75)
The Soupy Sales Show Host (1959-62)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Palmer’s Pick Up (9-Feb-1999)
Holy Man (9-Oct-1998) · Himself
…And God Spoke (14-Sep-1993) · Moses
Birds Do It (Aug-1966)
The Two Little Bears (1-Nov-1961)