Television

Pie-splattered comedian Soupy Sales was one of the TV greats

Verne Gay
Newsday (MCT)

I wake up as you do to sad but expected TV news this morning: TV great Soupy Sales is gone.

He died Thursday night after a long illness at age 83.

If you've never heard of Soupy Sales — though that's inconceivable — I almost can't begin to explain his impact on oth national and New York TV — as an entertainer and force who defined a certain type of humor for kids that lives on to this day in shows like "SpongeBob Squarepants" (even though its creator Stephen Hillenburg was probably too young to even remember him.)

The Soup's antics were pure flights of non-sequitur lunacy; they were also subversive, in their own glorious way — inciting kids to pick their parents pockets of greenbacks because, what the heck, that's what TV commercials do anyway. (He was suspended for a stunt that probably didn't get him enough dollars to buy a good hamburger; but it was all for a joke.)

His pie-throwing was absolutely a fixture of '60s TV — something so emblematic that I'll bet fans of Soupy today can't even look at a Boston cream pie without wondering whether it's going to go flying in their face.

In fact, a famous and true anecdote: Fred Rogers had never even seen a TV set in his life when he had just gotten out of seminary school. He finally saw one in his parent's living room and the minute he turned it on, there were two people — believed to be the Soup and a victim — heaving pies at each other.

Fred was so appalled that right then and there, he decided: I have to get into this business just to counteract shenanigans like this.

So even Fred was inspired by the Soup.

He broke color barriers, or so Reuters' obit says. I believe it.

A major major TV figure is gone.

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