Friday, October 23, 2009

Rant #117: Let's All Do "The Mouse" For Soupy Sales

Well, another icon from my youth is gone.

Soupy Sales passed away. He was in his 80s and had been in ill health.

If you are under 50, I don't think you can possibly understand the cultural significance of Soupy, but I will try to explain.

Soupy was a kids' show host in the 1960s, when every station in America seemingly had their own legion of kids' show hosts. They would show episodes of The Three Stooges, The Little Rascals, and they would talk to you as if they were your father or grandfather, telling you what was right and wrong.

In the New York viewing area, there were two hosts in particular that fit that mold: Captain Jack McCarthy and Officer Joe Bolton. Each was in the "grandfather" mode, and each day after school, everyone would turn on their shows to both hear their wisdom and to see the Stooges and Rascals.

And then there was Soupy. He was sort of the rogue in this stable, as he wasn't grandfatherly, and even if he imparted any wisdom, it was with a sly wit. He was sort of a thorn in the side of anyone with a "true-blue" feeling of right and wrong, and his show delivered Soupy's meaning of life with a mischievous streak that could not be found on those other shows.

And he had White Fang and Black Tooth and Pooky and many other characters, and his show was hilarious.

And he had pies. He became so nationally well-known that everyone wanted to get pied--even Frank Sinatra.

And he had a semi-hit record, "The Mouse," which helped bring him national fame. It was a top 20 record in New York, and it landed him on a number of variety shows in the 1960s, including The Ed Sullivan Show and Hullaballoo.

He also had the top rock acts on his show, as he was quite musical himself.

Soupy's humor treaded a very thin line way back when. Once, he innocently asked for kids to send him "those little green papers" in their dads' wallets. He received one dollar, was suspended for his actions, and all of us kids forgave him even if our parents didn't, and watched him when he came back.

By about 1966 or so, he had become too popular for the show. He went on to do movies, and later did a lot of radio, a medium where he started out his career decades before. He was also omnipresent on just about every game show that there was in the 1960s and 1970s.

But it was as a kids' show host that I will always remember Soupy. And yes, I use just his first name, because by coming into my living room every day on my family's old Dumont TV, he became my friend, albeit through that box in my living room.

I actually met Soupy about 20 years ago. We talked about his divorces, my own divorce, and videos that he was putting out at the time. He said much of his footage had been lost, but that people contacted him all the time about finding stuff in their attics and garages. He was truly happy that some of this material survived, and you can find a lot of it both commercially and on YouTube.

Anyway, rest in peace, my friend. This guy, who is 52 years old now, will always be a kid at heart because of you.


  1. We keep losing the people of our youth.
    Rest in peace Soupy and thanks!

  2. Yes, thanks to him--he brought us many, many fun times.

    I interviewed him about 20 years ago, and what you see is what I got. He was personable, a lot of fun, and we had a nice few minutes together.

  3. It's really cool that you interviewed him. RIP Soupy.

  4. Yes, I consider myself pretty lucky. When I was doing celebrity interviews, I spoke with many of the idols I had as a child, including Soupy, Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith of the Monkees, and Spanky McFarland of the Our Gang comedies. I found them all to be pretty nice people, and yes, I felt like a kid again when I met with them.



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