Yesterday the news hit that Soupy Sales passed away. He was 83. In my mind, it will always be 1964, or 1959, depending on which Soupy TV show I happen to be remembering.
Soupy first premiered on NY television in 1959. He came on at 12 noon on Saturdays on channel 7-ABC. I loved him immediately when he did his initial "First one here gets a box of Jello" bit, followed by old film footage with a cast of thousands of people, or even an elephant stampede, all racing to get the Jello. Something abhout him just cried out, "SMART ALEC"--but in the nicest way. The bit above is most likely from the show that was on channel 5 in NY, WNEW, which debuted in 1964. Watching it I realized that Soupy was even edgier than I realized.
Here is a link to a great blog post by Dan Brockway, which excellent shots of the show actually in production. The fact that the show was shot and that Soupy was always relating to the crew, is what made the show as much fun as it was. Soupy was making himself and his crew laugh more than anyone, and we all got to be in on the joke. My favorite skits always had WHITE FANG or BLACK TOOTH. Here is a great one with White Fang.
Found this wonderful stand-up bit by Soupy as he tells the story of the famous "Green pieces of paper" scandal, in which he asked kids to raid their mothers' and father wallets and send him money. And, yes, he really did do that:
When I was watching the movie, The Conspiracy Theory, with Mel Gibson, some years back, I kept having this sense of recognition. Mel reminded me of someone during the entire film, and I had this sense of watching someone else. It took me a spell before I finally identified who the familiar face was: Soupy Sales! I'll post some pictures and you tell me there is no resemblance!
Do yourself a favor and go on Youtube and watch several clips. Then you'll be in on the joke, too.
RIP, Soupy. Seems like just yesterday I was laughing on weekday evenings in 7th grade....