He claimed to have taken about 20,000 pies in his face over the course of his career and was a TV icon to the Baby Boomer generation. There’s word from New York that Soupy Sales, born Milton Supman in North Carolina, died Thursday night of cancer at age 83.
The zany children’s show “Lunch with Soupy Sales” originated at WXYZ-TV Detroit in 1953 and went national on ABC six years later, taking the TV comic to Los Angeles. Sales, who wore floppy polka dot bow ties, interacted with puppet characters such as Pookie the Lion and White Fang the dog, plus “Soupy’s girl,” who was Soupy in drag.
When ABC dropped the show after moving it around on the schedule, Sales landed in New York and “The Soupy Sales Show” launched on WNEW-TV, with syndication by Screen Gems. It was there that Sales had his most memorable and controversial show. Annoyed at having to work New Year’s Day 1965, Sales ended his show by telling his young viewers to remove the green papers with pictures of presidents from their parents’ wallets and mail them to him – “and I’ll send you a postcard from Puerto Rico!” Pie in the face. Roll the credits.
When envelopes of money began to arrive, Sales went on the air to say it was only a joke and that the money would be given to charity. As complaints from parents mounted, WNEW management suspended Sales for two weeks. In fact, though, the incident just increased his popularity, although production of new shows ended a couple of years later.
The last incarnation, “The New Soupy Sales Show,” was based in Los Angeles and aired in 1978 and ’79.
Afterward, Soupy Sales was a regular on TV game shows and had a radio show on WNBC-AM New York.