So Long, Old Pal

October 24th, 2009

soupy_salesSoupy Sales (Jan 8, 1926 – Oct 22, 2009) was a local market celebrity on WXYZ television in Detroit back in the fifties and sixties. His first program was a thirty-minute spot at mid-day, and every kid from Detroit to Flint had lunch with Soupy. He’d show up on the old black and white Philco every day regular as clockwork, he and his make-believe friends. Imagination was still alive and well, and Soupy used it to create much of his appeal.

I also think Soupy made good use of his partner and writer. I can’t recall the fellow’s name, but he was a genius at merging the seen with the unseen. This man had been one of the writers of the series The Lone Ranger that got its start on Detroit radio. He was also the voice for the masked man until the show moved from Detroit to New York and went nationwide.

Anyway, these two guys were the entire cast, with only Soupy ever being seen. The writer, who looked like Danny DeVito, was an off-stage voice or he would slip on a large, fuzzy sleeve that resembled a large doggy paw and provide life for one or the other of Soupy’s make-believe dogs, White Fang and Black Tooth.

Sure it was foolish, but it was also innocent and carefree. The audience was kids. They weren’t black or yellow or white. Just young boys and girls having lunch with Soupy, his two dogs and occasionally a visit from a worm named Willy. Willy was sick a lot, so he always had to do his scenes with no one else in sight. He coughed and sneezed a lot. His high pitched voice sound suspiciously like Soupy, but naw, no way.

Then there’s the pie thing. It was a Soupy thing, his trademark. Soupy once said during an interview that he had been hit with maybe nine thousand pies. The pie throwing would mark the end of his program every day, and the pies continued to follow him throughout his career.

He was an alright guy and leaves this world a better place because of his brief presence.

Godspeed, Soupy.

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3 Responses to “So Long, Old Pal”

  1. Harvey |

    As a kid I had lunch with Soupy, Whitefang, Blacktooth and all the critters every day — would look forward to it but wouldn’t look forward to the inevitable pie in his face because then the show was soon over.

    Good memories make a childhood seem like it wasn’t that far in the past!

  2. Tom |

    I remember Soupy Sales well, not so much from his early years but later in his career. Funny guy; I think his weird and zany sense of humor appealed to my own oddness. Same reason I always loved Jerry Lewis so much.

    The Washington Post has a nice article on Soupy.

  3. emma |

    thank you for your eloquent words describing a time past with Soupy.of course i remember him …watched him on tv..lots of laughs i had…..and you are so right he left memories in the hearts of children and was another time….sadly missed as the world hurls itself into the abiss of this electronic age, so long old pal………….you are remembered

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