Saturday, October 24, 2009

Soupy's gone

Mortality hit me hard (again) yesterday when I learned Soupy had died. I was one of the lucky ones, hundreds of kids from 8 to 18 to have watched Soupy Sales on local Detroit TV long before he became really famous. 

Back in the early 60's, Soupy was on during lunch and we would rush home to "have lunch with Soupy". He was a slapstick comic from another generation and while his show was for kids, the references he made and suggested were anything but that. 

Soup had several companions,  all very basic puppets, not your Jim Henson type, rather whatever the prop guy could find in the back room of WXYZ-TV. Pookie was a little lion hand puppet, ragged and torn, and the singer of the family. 

White Fang, "the meanest dog in all of Detroit" was simply a furry arm with claws at the end, who spoke in ruff ruffs waving his arm to emphasize things. And of course the lovely Black Tooth, the "sweetest dog in all of Detroit", another furry arm. 

Then there was Peaches, actually Soupy in drag, with a hairy chest.  And all this for kids. Soup had a Friday late night show for awhile, and it was pretty mature and wild. But he was always there for us, made sure we had good lunches, usually cheese or baloney sandwiches and always, always a bowl of Jell-O.  You can see Soupy on Youtube, just type in Soupy Sales.

Soup (you were in the "in crowd" if you called him Soup), would always get a pie in the face. When asked why he could take a hit so well, he said "it's in the crust". Later on when his show went nationwide and in LA, Sinatra came on to get a pie hit, then Dean Martin and soon it became the trend to get "pie'd" by Soupy. 

He was part of my growing up, and as a friend joked, was the strongest influence on us towards anarchy. As we left high school, Soupy became famous all over the U.S. and somehow we lost interest, maybe because we had already seen the best of him and didn't want to share him with America.  And so we drifted into our adult lives with ideas of jobs, marriage, children and a future that seemed damn exciting.

Soup always had his "words of wisdom", an example was "Soupy says be true to your teeth and they'll never be false to you".

Hope you got the biggest pie there is, Soup, you taught us patience, honesty, regard for others, tolerance, and how to throw a pie. The Ukrainian boys who hung out at Schoolfield every night miss you already.


  1. Fabulous post... thanks for sharing... I had no idea...

  2. Hey Jim,

    Back in your earlier post "Non-recurring phenomenon" you mentioned "Paranormal Activity" and it's potential for bringing in a kazillion dollars...well for $16,000 to make, they're at $62,000,000 so far! Great ROI!
    Hope TD 09 gets up there!