Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Soupy Sales, slapstick pioneer

The pie-in-the-face comic Soupy Sales died in New York Thursday.

(Page 2 of 2)



Sales, who was typically clad in a black sweater and oversized bow-tie, was once suspended for a week after telling his legion of tiny listeners to empty their mothers' purse and mail him all the pieces of green paper bearing pictures of the presidents.

Skip to next paragraph

The cast of "Saturday Night Live" later paid homage by asking their audience to send in their joints. His influence was also obvious in the Pee-Wee Herman character created by Paul Reubens.

Sales returned from the Navy after World War II and became a $20-a-week reporter at a West Virginia radio station. He jumped to a DJ gig, changed his name to Soupy Heinz and headed for Ohio.

His first pie to the face came in 1951, when the newly christened Soupy Sales was hosting a children's show in Cleveland. In Detroit, Sales' show garnered a national reputation as he honed his act — a barrage of sketches, gags and bad puns that played in the Motor City for seven years.

After moving to Los Angeles, he eventually became a fill-in host on "The Tonight Show."

He moved to New York in 1964 and debuted "The Soupy Sales Show," with co-star puppets White Fang (the meanest dog in the United States) and Black Tooth (the nicest dog in the United States). By the time his Big Apple run ended two years later, Sales had appeared on 5,370 live television programs — the most in the medium's history, he boasted. He had a pair of albums that hit the Billboard Top 10 in 1965; "Do the Mouse" sold 250,000 copies in New York alone.

Sales remained a familiar television face, first as a regular from 1968-75 on the game show "What's My Line?" and later appearing on everything from "The Mike Douglas Show" to "The Love Boat." He played himself in the 1998 movie "Holy Man," which starred Eddie Murphy.

He joined WNBC-AM as a disc jockey in 1985, a stint best remembered because Sales filled the hours between shock jocks Don Imus and Howard Stern.

Sales is survived by his wife, Trudy, and two sons, Hunt and Tony, a pair of musicians who backed David Bowie in the band Tin Machine.

Permissions