Milton Supman (January 8, 1926 – October 22, 2009), known professionally as Soupy Sales, was an American comedian, actor, radio/television personality, and jazz aficionado. He was best known for his local and network children's television show Lunch with Soupy Sales (1953–1966), a series of comedy sketches frequently ending with Sales receiving a pie in the face, which became his trademark.
Soupy Sales doing the "Mousie" with Ed Sullivan
From 1968 to 1975 he was a regular panelist on the syndicated revival of What's My Line? and appeared on several other TV game shows. During the 1980s, Sales hosted his own show on WNBC-AM in New York City.
Sales is best known for his daily children's television show, Lunch with Soupy Sales. The show was originally called 12 O'Clock Comics and was later known as The Soupy Sales Show. Improvised and slapstick in nature, Lunch with Soupy Sales was a rapid-fire stream of comedy sketches, gags, and puns, almost all of which resulted in Sales receiving a pie in the face.
Lunch with Soupy Sales began in 1953 from the studios of WXYZ-TV, Channel 7, located in the historic Maccabees Building, in Detroit. Sales occasionally took the studio cameras to the lawn of the Detroit Public Library, located across the street from the TV studios, and talked with local students walking to and from school.
Beginning no later than July 4, 1955, a Saturday version of Sales' lunch show was broadcast nationally on the ABC television network. His lunchtime program on weekdays was moved to early morning opposite Today and Captain Kangaroo.
On September 7, 1964, Sales found a new weekday home at WNEW-TV in New York City. This version was seen locally until September 2, 1966. 260 episodes were syndicated by Screen Gems to local stations outside the New York market during the 1965–66 season.
This show marked the height of Sales' popularity. It featured guest appearances by stars such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, Jerry Lewis, Judy Garland, and Sammy Davis Jr., as well as musical groups like the Shangri-Las, The Supremes, The Temptations and even Alice Cooper.
Clyde Adler, the show's floor manager and a film editor at Detroit's WXYZ-TV, performed in sketches and voiced and operated all puppets on Sales' show in Detroit in the 1950s and in Los Angeles from 1959 to 1962, as well as in 1978.
Frank Nastasi, who played the part of Gramps on WXYZ-TV's other kid's show "Wixie Wonderland", assumed the role of straight man and puppeteer when Sales took the show to New York from 1964 to 1966. Nastasi was originally from Detroit and had worked with Sales at WXYZ.
White Fang, "The Biggest and Meanest Dog in the USA", who appeared only as a giant white shaggy paw with black triangular felt "claws", jutting out from the corner of the screen. Fang spoke with unintelligible short grunts and growls, which Soupy repeated back in English, for comic effect. White Fang was often the pie thrower when Soupy's jokes bombed.
Black Tooth, "The Biggest and Sweetest Dog in the USA", also seen only as a giant black paw with white triangular felt claws, and with more feminine, but similarly unintelligible, dialogue. Black Tooth's trademark was pulling Soupy off-camera to give loud and noisy kisses.
For a short time, there was a third dog character that became White Fang's girlfriend, Marilyn Monwolf. She caused some rivalry of affections between Black Tooth and White Fang, but later jilted them both for Joe Dogmaggio.
Pookie the Lion, a lion puppet appearing in a large window behind Soupy (the 1950s), was a hipster with a rapier wit. For example Soupy: "Do you know why my life is so miserable?" Pookie: "You got me!" Soupy: "That's why!"
One of Pookie's favorite lines when greeting Soupy was, "Hey bubby... want a kiss?". In the Detroit shows, Pookie never spoke but communicated in whistles. That puppet also was used to mouth the words while pantomiming novelty records on the show.
Hippy the Hippo, a minor character who occasionally appeared with Pookie the Lion. Frank Nastasi gave Hippy a voice for the New York shows. Clyde Adler also voiced Hippy in the shows done in the late 1970s.