Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Today is the 82nd birthday of a television legend- Mr. Soupy Sales. Of course, my connection with him goes back to those glorious days when I did some of his famous character voices while Clyde Adler was recovering from a heart attack. The show was originally called 12 O'clock Comics and was later also known as The Soupy Sales Show. Improvised and slapstick in nature, Lunch with Soupy Sales was a rapid-fire stream of sketches, gags, and puns. Almost all resulted in Sales receiving a pie in the face, which became his trademark.
Sales developed pie-throwing into an art form — straight to the face, on top of the head, a pie to both ears from behind, moving into a stationary pie and countless other variations. By some estimates, Soupy has been hit by over 25,000 pies.
Just in cadse you've forgotten some of those wonderful characters they are:
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, often 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 (just the opposite of White Fang), and with more feminine, but similarly unintelligible, dialogue. Black Tooth's trademark was pulling Soupy off-camera to give loud and noisy kisses.
Hippie the Hippo, who occasionally appeared with Pookie the Lion never spoke at all.
Pookie the Lion, a lion puppet appearing in a large window behind Soupy 1950s was a hipster with a rapier wit. His repartee with Soupy was rapid-fire. For example: Soupy: "Do you know why my life is so miserable?" Pookie: "You got me!" Soupy: "That's why!"
Other regular characters were:

Marilyn Von Wolf: a takeoff dog puppet character that reminded you of Marilyn Monroe. The Little Boy Next Door, Count Dracula and Soupy's Neighbor. There was also
Peaches, Soupy's girlfriend, played by Sales in drag.
Philo Kvetch, a private detective played by Sales in a long-running comedy skit during the show's New York run (a parody of early 20th century fictional detective Philo Vance).
The Mask, evil nemesis of Philo Kvetch, revealed in the last episode to be Nikita Khrushchev, who had been deposed about a year earlier. "Onions" Oregano, henchman of The Mask, played by Frank Nastasi, who ate loads of onions. Every time Oregano would breathe in Philo's direction, Philo would make all sorts of comic choking faces, pull out a can of air freshener, say "Get those onions out of here!", etc. There was also Hobart and Reba, husband and wife who lived in the potbelly stove on set. They are never seen on screen, only their voices heard coming from the stove, saying things like, “Show me a cow dressed in rags, and I will show you a bum steer” and Hobart saying, “Cool it Reba.” Willie the worm, who flexed in and out of an apple on Soupy's breakfast table when speaking; Willie helped read birthday greetings to Detroit area viewers while the show was on WXYZ in Detroit. Oh yes, my memories of Soupy sales were grand indeed-- and the best money I ever earned in my life.
Oh yes, today is also the birthday of the king-- Elvis Presley.
And tomorrow i get to meet my new district manager for Ritz camera District 90. Fingers crossed that all goes well with that meeting.


janet said...

Hi Mr. Ricciardi. Thanks for the details. I actually signed up for My Space, to send Soupy an e birthday greeting and clicked a link here from google. Your website is very thoughtful. I will come check it out further at some point. Take it easy, janet

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