Growing up there was a strict rule in my family about no television during dinner...that is until Soupy arrived on the scene. In the early to mid sixties Soupy Sales, a comedian who got his start hosting a straight kids show, created a TV program that on the surface was for kids, but in fact appealed to adults as well. The "Soupy Sales Show" aired during our dinner time and my father actually insisted that we watch it during the meal!
While the show was a combination of vaudeville and puppetry bits strung together, it was the constant improvising and comic interplay with the off camera crew that made the show famous. At one point getting a pie in the face on the show reached such cult status that mega stars like Frank Sinatra would show up just to get a pie thrown at them. Soupy famously got thrown off the air for a while after a bit where he encouraged the young kids in the audience to go into their daddy's wallets, take out the green paper with pictures of the presidents, and send them to him. As Richard Fusco points out in his latest blog, Soupy's sexual double entendres were both creative and kept Soupy in constant trouble with censors and TV executives.
Born Milton Hines, the name "Soupy Sales" developed because of Milton's ability, during his early (straight) kid shows, to encourage kids who were watching during lunch to finish their soup, much to the delight of the Moms.
But it was Soupy's unique ability to weave Vaudevillian slapstick, comic improv, and adult humor all into a kid show format that made him a cult favorite.