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Soupy Sales


Soupy Sales

 

He was a nationally recognized slapstick comedian, but few remember Soupy Sales as a WJW disc jockey. The man who would be known as Soupy was born Milton Supman on January 28, 1926, in Franklinton, North Carolina. Legend has it the Supmans were the only Jews in town, and the dry goods store run by Sales' father also sold sheets to the Ku Klux Klan. The family's name was often mispronounced as "Soupman", and the kids all had similar nicknames. Milton's brothers were "Hambone" and "Chickenbone," with Milton getting the name "Soupbone." Eventually, it became just Soupy.

His dad died when Soupy was 5, and the family moved to to Huntington, West Virginia where Sales acted in school plays and in high school was voted most popular boy in his class. Enlisting in the navy in World War II he fought in the Pacific theater and the invasion of Okinawa, and also entertained crew mates with routines broadcast on the ship's PA. After his discharge, Sales returned to West Virginia and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Marshall College in 1949. He went to work for a radio station in Huntington as a scriptwriter but also did stand-up at nightclubs. It wasn't long before he became a disc jockey.

In the early 50s Soupy found a job in Cleveland at WJW, where the station manager gave him the professional name of Soupy Hines. But bigger markets would soon come calling and he traveled north to Detroit where he took the name Soupy Sales so as not to be confused with advertiser, Heinz Catsup. It was there that he developed the "Soupy Sales Show" that was essentially a kids TV show for adults. It was syndicated globally and even attracted big name performers like Frank Sinatra as guests. The high point of every show came with a pie launched into Sales' face. Sales would later say he was hit by more than 25,000 pies during his career, and even Sinatra asked to get a plateful of whipped cream in the face. Others winning that honor were Tony Curtis, Mickey Rooney, Sammy Davis Jr., Dick Martin and Burt Lancaster among many others. Sales would later appear on two Ed Sullivan shows (headlined both times by the Beatles) where he did his hit song "The Mouse". In later years he would host a top rated show in New York radio. Soupy Salwes died on October 22, 2009 at age 83.

 

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