October 23, 2009, - 4:07 pm
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.
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.
Tags: come pie with me, comedians, Dead, Died, Jewish, Jewish-Americans, Of Blessed Memory, pies, Soupy Sales Milton Supman, Z"L, Zichrono LiVrachah