October 23, 2009, - 4:07 pm

Come Pie With Me in Heaven: Milton Supman a/k/a Soupy Sales, Z”L [Blessed Be His Memory]

By Debbie Schlussel

Although his humor might seem passe or corny today, Soupy Sales–born Milton Supman–was one  of the great comedians and show biz pioneers of his day, making it big after he hosted a TV show on Detroit’s WXYZ-TV.  And though he changed his name, Sales was always a proud Jew and a proud American.  I followed him over the years because my father was a fan.  And when I was a kid, my dad took me to a local event where I met Soupy minus the pies. He was already older then, and no longer as big of a name as he once was. But he still had a show on TV then, and I still thought he was cool because my parents told me about him and his act.  Sadly, he passed away, yesterday, at 83.

soupysales

The comic’s pie-throwing schtick became his trademark, and celebrities lined up to take one on the chin alongside Sales. During the early 1960s, stars such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis and Shirley MacLaine received their just desserts side-by-side with the comedian on his television show.

“I’ll probably be remembered for the pies, and that’s all right,” Sales said in a 1985 interview.

Sales was born Milton Supman on Jan. 8, 1926, in Franklinton, N.C., where his was the only Jewish family in town. His parents, owners of a dry-goods store, sold sheets to the Ku Klux Klan. The family later moved to Huntington, W.Va.

His greatest success came in New York with “The Soupy Sales Show” — an ostensible children’s show that had little to do with Captain Kangaroo and other kiddie fare. Sales’ manic, improvisational style also attracted an older audience that responded to his envelope-pushing antics.

When  I think of Soupy Sales, I note that he was the original Bruno/Borat and Pee Wee Herman, minus the disgusting and vulgar and plus a huge infusion of the class they lacked.  I could watch the video tribute to  the late Soupy a/k/a Supman, “Come Pie With Me,” above, over and over.

Soupy Sales, Zichrono LiVrachah [Blessed Be His Memory].

Bonus Video: Alice Cooper gets pied on “The Soupy Sales Show” in 1978.

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15 Responses

Debbie, I was waiting when a girl like you from Detroit would talk about Soupy Sales and what he meant to Detroit TV, especially WXYZ-TV where the big break came.

And the time you went to see Soupy among his MANY trips to his adopted home of Detroit was 1979 when he had The New Soupy Sales Show. Here in my area it was seen on WPIX Channel 11 in NYC, and not the station where Soupy exploded in popularity WNEW Channel 5 (Fox 5 WNYW).

Soupy also made appearances on game shows like What’s My Line, Match Game and the various Pyramids, including the $50,000 Pyramid where in 1981 he helped someone in the Winner’s Circle win the $50K after one of the show’s disjointed format tournaments. When the top prize went to $100K in 1985, they greatly improved on it.

Also, Soupy was the guy on WNBC 66 Radio between Imus and Howard Stern and he was on the air at WNBC in 1986 when Challenger blew up…or so I read about.

I’m glad you had the chance to see Soupy live sans the pies and that your dad was a fan. Perhaps the two of them are chatting right now. But seeing many of those clips on YouTube made me laugh.

Bob Porrazzo on October 23, 2009 at 11:08 pm

And Debbie, speaking of those Pyramid appearances, it’s rumored that Bob Stewart, the man who created the Pyramid, says Soupy has given away more of the show’s money than any celebrity in the history of the show. And here’s Soupy handing out the dough, including from my last post, the $50,000 Pyramid.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXlT-BoCXfk&feature=sub

Bob Porrazzo on October 24, 2009 at 7:09 am

May he rest in peace- I loved his show when I was growing up. A classy man all around. Too bad today’s so called talent refuses to learn what being a performer means.

Agnes Bullock on October 24, 2009 at 9:42 am

i loved SOUPY when i was growing up — so much fun to look and marvel at these SOUPY SHOWS now. great! may he rest in peace. SM

sue marks on October 24, 2009 at 12:11 pm

R.I.P. Soupy. Too bad more hollywood personalities don’t have his class.

Joe on October 25, 2009 at 12:09 am

A great personality who has been sorely missed for some time. Even though death maybe a part of life it still hard to except.

seahawker on October 25, 2009 at 10:20 am

Soupy was my fave in NY kids shows. He was just the funniest guy and his show was a laugh riot. White Fang, Black Tooth and all the rest. Television back then was so well done. Sandy Becker was another favorite on NY television. And who can forget Zacherly? Sad to see him go. All the great ones are gone.

JeffT on October 25, 2009 at 1:02 pm

I remember eating lunch in front of the TV with Soupy Sales. The show was “12 O’Clock Comics” on WXYZ-TV in Detroit. That had to be around 1954 – 1955. I think every kid in my class could do the “Soupy Shuffle”. I loved his words of wisdom.. things like “You be kind to your teeth and they’ll be kind to you.” That was a good program. Are there any re-runs of that show?

Linda Lewis on October 25, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Fond memories abound ~~ RIP Soupy!

Orlin Bowman on October 26, 2009 at 11:46 am

“…….His parents, owners of a dry-goods store, sold sheets to the Ku Klux Klan. The family later moved to Huntington, W.Va……”

What’s up with that?

Sam Adams on October 26, 2009 at 2:45 pm

I interviewed Soupy on my radio show in 1978. He was such a sweet guy, just as genuine as they come. No ego, no attitude, no foul mouth. Pure “class” all the way, a term that has been rendered obsolete. Sure, he was just a tad naughty, but back then there was another concept called “innuendo”. Audiences have been too dumbed down for that now.

Spiffo on October 26, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Soupy is and was the man. He was an important funny character to many of us growing up and we would frequently emulate his antics in school to gain attention. Especially characters such as White Tooth and Black Fang. Hope you’re laughin where ever you are Soupy

pitman on October 27, 2009 at 2:43 am

I wish they would rerun his show instead of the dentist trash on Nick. You always bring a smile. RIP

FeFe on October 28, 2009 at 5:55 am

I remember Soupy Sales on WXYZ every school day at lunchtime. What a hoot! It was “White Fang” and “Black Tooth”. White Fang was gruff and aggressive and, of course, Black Tooth was the exact opposite… being gentle and ‘sensitive’. Soup also had a late night variety show in Detroit. Also got to see his network show from L.A. His was a clever and very funny humour. Too bad nobody emmulates his Class act these days… those of us who saw his work and remember the fun times have good memories that contemporary kids and young folks will never have. May Soup rest in peace.

JohnD on August 23, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Soupy Sales was not only a wonderful comedian, but he was a real genius of the unique format of television comedy. That such a great comedian as Soupy Sales was Jewish, should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed comedy; an astonishing percentage of the top comedians are practicing Jews or are of Jewish heritage. Thus, Ernie Kovacs, who was another genius of television comedy, and has influenced scores of other masters of comedy, was a Hungarian Jew.

Talent seems to run in the Sales family. Sales had two sons, both of whom are rock musicians: bassist Tony Sales and drummer Hunt Sales. Along with David Bowie and Reeves Gabrels, the Sales brothers comprised the art rock band Tin Machine and worked with Iggy Pop on Lust For Life.

Ralph Adamo on August 30, 2011 at 3:40 am

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