Friday, October 30, 2009

Soupy Sales – A Pie in the Face, and A Place in our Hearts

Last week, we lost a friend. Many of us growing up in the Detroit area remember Soupy Sales--the silly, smiley, utterly hilarious comedian whose career took flight when entertaining thousands of school children in the 50’s, who would dash home during their lunch break to watch “Lunch With Soupy Sales.”

My parents both grew up watching the show, and regaled me in my youth with stories of White Fang, and the noisy kisses of Black Tooth, Pookie the Lion’s whistles, Onions Oregano, and Willie – The Sickest Worm in all of Deeetroit. All the worm ever did was sneeze when he came out of his apple. It must have been the Michigan weather. He didn’t survive the move to New York.

Appealing to children and adults alike, Soupy’s slapstick comedy with clever puns and asides put him not only in the annals of comic history but in the hearts of my family as well. I asked my parents to share their favorite memories from Soupy Sales. Here are their edited responses:
I was a card-carrying member of the Birdbath Club. I wish I had that card now! My parents took me to Edgewater Park to see Soupy Sales- but he was not there during the time we were. This had to be in the middle 50's. Edgewater Park was an amusement park - somewhere in the Detroit area, I've forgotten where, long since torn down. I used to walk home from school when I was in elementary school and eat lunch watching the Soupy Sales show. Imagine that. I can hardly even imagine walking home for lunch.... how much time did we have for all that?? Then later on Soupy had a late night show which my parents often watched (!) Ha. I can't remember much else. Your dad and I went to see Soupy in Livonia back in '99 before we moved away. I always got a kick out of him.
(Speaking of the puppets) They were very low tech - just stuck on a stage hand's arm (sometimes you could even see the arm!). White tooth was kind of gruff and angry and Black tooth was the sweet one that always grabbed Soupy and kissed him. "Don't kiss, Don't kiss" he would say, and the thing would still get him! There was a cork in the wall that Soupy would pull out and sometimes (often, I think) water would squirt out in his face. Then of course, there would be a delay until he got right in front of it. Sounds awfully corny, but something about Soupy Sales' personality was infectious and made it funny. He was always having a good time, himself. I think my two favorite--but silly--characters on the Soupy Sales show were Willy the worm and The Count (a Dracula puppet). I don't recall that we could actually see Willy the Worm. He was supposedly in a box that Soupy would go up to. He would say "Hah, Willy!" and Willy would sneeze loudly. Then Soup would say, "You're the sickest worm in all of Dee-troit!" After that he would get all the kiddies to take their "vitaminee" with him by saying, "Through the teeth and over the gums, look out stomach, here it comes!" As for the Count, he was a later addition, if I recall. Every time Soupy would go to the window and call out "Count!" The puppet would appear and say, "One, two, three, four." I have the fondest memory of when Soupy Sales came to Oxford Avenue Elementary School to do a performance for us. What a treat to see him in person and watch him to "The Soupy Shuffle". We saw him do an act (locally) before we moved away. He had some great jokes and was as energetic as ever.

Sometimes the simplest things in life are the most entertaining, after all. I’d rather see that than the crude, off color excuse for humor we are handed these days.

Let’s make a banana cream pie tonight and remember Soupy Sales, who like many great comedians, lived a long life, and showed us how to laugh at the simple things. And maybe do The Soupy Shuffle to work off the calories.


  1. Unfortunately I only have very vague memories of all this since I was WAY too young when Soupy Sales was on (wink!). However I do seem to recall getting a big kick out of the pies and White Fang.
    When I read the title of the blog I just started cracking up... "A pie in the face and a place in our hearts..." TOO MUCH! Love it. -Laura

  2. I tried to find the show on dvd a few years ago for my dads birthday. He was telling me of the good memories he had watching it. I soon found out that you can't buy very many episodes. I was able to find one on a website and I ordered it for him. I do remember reading somewhere on the internet that they did not keep the originals stored and would just throw them away.
    Unfortunately, most of those hilarious skits are gone forever.

  3. I remember Mom & Dad doing the Soupy Shuffle. So sweet. They were laughing.