Remembering Soupy Sales

Comedian Soupy Sales died Thursday in Bronx, N.Y., at age 83. Sales is best known as the host of the 1960s' kids' TV program, The Soupy Sales Show. The comedian married slapstick and double-entendre, making him popular with both children and adults.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Now, for a remembrance of comedian Soupy Sales. He died last night in New York. And let's start by imagining this scene in black and white, of course.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. and a friend are sitting at a bistro table on a French restaurant.

NORRIS: In walks a grumpy, goopy looking waiter.

(Soundbite of the TV show, "The Soupy Sales Show")

Mr. FRANK SINATRA (Actor): Now, let's find out what we want to eat.

Mr. SOUPY SALES (Actor): Yeah. What?

Mr. SAMMY DAVIS JR. (Actor): Is there any soup on the menu?

Mr. SALES: Yeah, but we wiped it off.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: Comedian Soupy Sales is playing that grumpy waiter on an episode of his 1960s show for young children, "The Soupy Sales Show." Here's Sinatra's order.

(Soundbite of the TV show, "The Soupy Sales Show")

Mr. SINATRA: Do you serve women in this restaurant?

Mr. SALES: We certainly do.

Mr. SINATRA: Well, bring me a long, tall, cool blonde, will you?

(Soundbite of laughter)

NORRIS: Yes, we did say a show for young children.

Mr. GARY GROSSMAN (TV Producer) Soupy was the Peck's Bad Boy of television.

BLOCK: That's TV producer Gary Grossman. He interviewed Soupy Sales for his book about children's television.

NORRIS: Grossman places Sales in the pantheon of kids' TV hosts.

Mr. GROSSMAN: Buffalo Bob Smith was the uncle of all hosts on "Howdy Doody" and Miss Frances was the sweetest, perhaps, of all hosts of "Ding Dong School." Soupy Sales was the anarchist of all hosts.

BLOCK: Grossman adds that Sales' slapstick was geared toward kids but there were plenty of double-entendres for adults.

NORRIS: He paved the way for generational crossover shows like "Pee Wee's Playhouse" and "The Simpsons."

BLOCK: And as far as Grossman's characterization of Soupy Sales as an anarchist, well, there are quite a few stories to prove that.

NORRIS: Like the one where he asked kids to take money from their parents' wallets and mail it to him...

BLOCK: ...because he was miffed he had to work on New Year's Eve.

Mr. GROSSMAN: Uncontrollable, irreverent and outrageous. And that's what made people like Frank Sinatra and other big-name stars want to go on "Soupy Sales." There's a part of me that thinks that maybe even "Laugh In" wouldn't have existed if it weren't for what Soupy Sales did in children's television.

NORRIS: Now let's go back to that black and white scene we set up earlier.

BLOCK: And imagine Sinatra, Sammy and Soupy covered from head to toe in cream pie.

NORRIS: Soupy Sales said he took 25,000 pies to the face during his career.

BLOCK: And he thought that's how most people would remember him.

NORRIS: Comedian Soupy Sales. He died yesterday in the Bronx. He was 83 years old.

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