Comedian Soupy Sales, whose slapstick 1950s and 60s TV show perfected the art of pie-in-the-face throwing, died Thursday night in a New York City hospice, the New York Times reports.
He was 83. Sales, who was born Milton Supman, often performed with puppet sidekicks, including White Fang, Black Tooth and Pookie the Lion. By his count, some 20,000 pies were thrown at him or his TV show victims, who included Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis.
Sales’ comedy had a subversive streak and he was briefly suspended in 1965, when a viewer complained to the FCC about a routine in which he asked children in the audience to look in their parents’ clothes and sent him the little green pieces of paper with pictures of bearded men. He later said he only received a few dollars.
After “The Soupy Sales Show” ended, he was a longtime panelist on “What’s My Line?”
For those of you too young to remember Soupy, veteran TV writer Verne Gay, in a short but excellent tribute in Newsday this morning explains the wide-ranging influence of Soupy Sales, from Fred Rogers to SpongeBob Squarepants.
–Elizabeth Jensen and Chuck Ross