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.