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Opening Arguments

Cold soup

Most of the Soupy Sales obits concentrate on his national presence, but the Detroit Free Press has a good read on his early days as a local TV celebrity:

Sales was best known to Detroiters as the goofy yet cerebral host of “Lunch with Soupy,” a half-hour show that featured Sales hamming it up in a variety of sometimes surreal situations.


The show, which began airing in Detroit in 1953, featured a cast of unforgettable characters: an incorrigible dog by the name of White Fang, “the meanest dog in all Deeeetroit,” who communicated via a series of guttural noises; Black Tooth, an overly affectionate dog whom Sales would constantly tell “don't kiss”; Hippy the Hippo, and Willy the Worm.


Of course, there were the pies. Sales once estimated that he took 9,000 pies in the face during the course of his career.


But the most famous of Sales' bits was “lunch.” A typical menu might include a hot dog as the main course. Before Sales would take a bite, viewers would hear the sound of squealing pigs. Or, viewers might hear the sound of mooing cows as Sales sipped milk.


The lunchtime show was also known for its unpredictability. Sales would leave the set, camera in tow, and harass other Channel 7 hosts.

He once left the set in mid-show and hunted down Channel 7's Edythe Fern Melrose, a woman of unyielding dignity who was known as “The Lady of Charm.” Sales blasted her with a pie.


“She didn't know it was coming,” once recalled former Detroit radio personality Mark Andrews, himself since deceased, who watched the program as a grade-school student at Fraser's Eisenhower Elementary. “It might be the funniest moment I've seen on television.”

Many communities, including Fort Wayne, had colorful TV personalities back then, and that's something that was lost as the medium grew up (or at least advanced in years). Some people try to pull off that kind of energy and creativty on local access, but with viewerships in the dozens (if that), they just come off as quirky cranks.


Bob G.
Fri, 10/23/2009 - 12:56pm

Yes, even in the "ancient" days of mine back in Philly, I knew that Soupy wasn't FROM Philly.
(made me wonder about those Detroit dogs...and TODAY, I know)

Didn't do all that bad for a guy with an MA in Journalism, did he?
And to think...he "COULD" have been working at the News-Sentinel...LOL!
(hey, we quirky cranks have to stick together)

Mon, 10/26/2009 - 7:06pm

A truly great man has passed. And to think Obama got the Peace Prize when Soupy was still available. If we armed everyone with cream pies, wars would be something we could look forward to.
BTW, I used to work with Howard "Moo" Cochran, former news editor of the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette. He went to school with Soupy at Marshall.
My mother used to serve me lunch (peanut butter) in front of the TV when Soupy was on. It was only years later when I realized how much of his humor was actually aimed at adults. Kind of like Rocky and Bullwinkle, but with pies.

tim zank
Mon, 10/26/2009 - 8:10pm

Though you meant it sarcastically, the thought of Soupy as a Nobel Prize Winner isn't any more ridiculous than Obama.

Bob G.
Tue, 10/27/2009 - 8:37am

...Not to mention that Soupy's "sidekicks" were a LOT more palatable...and funny.
(Pookie could lip-sync a LOT better than Rham Emanuel)