Eat Your Soup!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Eat Your Soup!

Updated 10/24/2009 – 06:21 pm

Having spend five of my formative years in the Detroit area at a time where there were but three, count'em 3!, television channels avail­able to the family's 11-inch Philco set, there wasn't much to watch

There was no viewing strategy... one watched what was on, and for a pre-teen that meant '30s westerns and "Farmer Brown" cartoons after school, and "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" in the evening.

And if one went home at noon as I often did, there was an hour-long (live) show with some­one named Soupy Sales on WXYZ-TV that was not so much de rigueur as it was the only thing on that wasn't news (ugh!) or a soap opera (double ugh!)

Soupy Sales, circa 1959

It was just the host on a cheap set with a blackboard featuring "Words of Wisdom" on one side, and when flipped over, that day's lunch menu featuring soup and a sandwich, usually PB&J.

The sandwich wasn't a tough sell, but the soup must have been because a daily admonishment from the host was:

"Remember, kids, eat your soup!"

Before acquiring his better-known cast of supporting characters, Sales' original sidekicks were the never fully-seen "Black Tooth" (a/k/a "The Meanest Dog in All Dee-troit!") and "Willie the Worm," a small accordion-like piece of rubber which rose up from a flower pot pneumatically when a small bulb at the other end of a very visible tube was squeezed.

It was silly, but it was something to watch.

One of my biggest surprises as a youth came when I discovered that "The Soupy Sales Show" was airing nationally! I never "got" that at all.

And later on, it became a phenomenon. Didn't "get" that either!

Yesterday, Milton Supman, a/k/a "Soupy Sales," passed away at Calvary Hospice in the Bronx. He was 83.

Just found this...

...which features so many elements of Soupy Sales' lengthy career:

It even has footage of his lunch hour black­board which I hadn't seen in over 50 years.


1. Matlynn Carville said...

Rest in pea-soup, Soupy! I loved ya man.

And my Dad really loved you. "Send me the funny green pieces of paper with pictures of U.S. Presidents from your parent's wallets." The guy was entertaining two audiences at the same time.

White Fang, oh my gosh. I loved that guy.

He really didn't do that much for me after he went national.

2. The Quiogue Kid said...

In Quiogue he was on Channel 5 during my formative years, along with Uncle Fred Scott, Sonny Fox, Chuck McGann{sic} and Sandy Becker... all greats. Met Soupy a number of times... loved his humor that was on two levels, one for the kids and one for the adults... I will be performing my show in his memory tonight.

3. Shepard M. Scheinberg said...

I loved watching Soupy Sales. He was so goofy.

4. EastEnd68 said...

Best memory of Soupy Sales was him telling all the kids on New Year's morning to take the cash from their parents and mail it to him.

Yes, it was January 1, 1965, and what he actually suggested was that his younger listeners take "funny green pieces of paper with pictures of U.S. Presidents" from their parents pants pockets and purses. "Put them in an envelope and mail them to me," he instructed. He took a quick beat, then added: "And I'll send you a postcard from Puerto Rico!" It was hilarious, mostly in the delivery, but enough parents complained that WNEW-TV management felt it prudent to suspend Sales for two weeks.

5. EastEnd68 said...

Just reminded of the White Fang & Snagel Tooth{sic} routine "at a baseball game."

The White Fang character was post-Detroit, I believe, so I don't recall much about that one, and I have no recollection of Snaggletooth (preferred spelling) at all. I don't even know that it's related to Soupy Sales.

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