Saturday, October 24, 2009

GUMMER: Circus Nock (2008)

PRICILLA MOOSEBURGER: Red Skelton Theater, Vincennes, IN (2009)

Oooooh! Aaaaaaaaaah! Wocka! Wocka! Wocka!

THIS is the type of cartoon silliness that kids LOVE and a lot of "clowns" forget.

Beautifully choreographed as well! Very clean action. You could watch it with the sound down and still follow the whole gag.

Friday, October 23, 2009


DON CHRISTIAN: Boxing Entree

SOUPY SALES: Come Pie With Me

SOUPY SALES: Complete WNEW Show (1965)

IN MEMORIAM: Soupy Sales

Soupy Sales

Soupy Sales (born Milton Supman, January 8, 1926 – October 22, 2009) was an American comedian, actor, and radio-TV personality and host. He was best known for his local and network children's television show, Lunch with Soupy Sales; a series of comedy sketches frequently ending with Sales receiving a pie in the face, which became his trademark.

From 1968 to 1975, he was a regular panelist on the syndicated revival of What's My Line? and appeared on several other TV game shows. During the 1980s Sales hosted his own show on WNBC-AM in New York City.

Early life and career

Sales was born Milton Supman in Franklinton, North Carolina, to Irving and Sadie Supman. Irving Supman had emigrated to America from Hungary in 1894, and was a dry goods merchant. Milton has two siblings, Leonard Supman (b. 1918-deceased) and Jack Supman (b. 1921).

Sales got his nickname from his family. His older brothers had been nicknamed "Hambone" and "Chicken Bone"; Milton was dubbed "Soup Bone," which was later shortened to "Soupy". When he became a disc jockey, he began using the stage name Soupy Hines. After he became established, it was decided that "Hines" was too close to the Heinz soup company, so he chose the surname Sales, after comedian Chic Sale.

Milton graduated from Huntington High School in Huntington, West Virginia in 1944. He then enlisted the United States Navy and served on the USS Randall (APA-224) in the South Pacific during the latter part of World War II. He sometimes entertained his shipmates by telling jokes and playing crazy characters over the ship's public address system. One of the characters he created was "White Fang," a large dog that played outrageous practical jokes on the seamen. The sounds for "White Fang" came from a recording of "The Hound of the Baskervilles". He took the record with him when he left the Navy.

Sales next entered Marshall College, where he earned a Master's Degree in Journalism. While attending Marshall College, he performed in nightclubs as a comedian, singer, and dancer. After graduating, he began working as a scriptwriter and a disc jockey at radio station WHTN in Huntington.

Sales moved to Cincinnati in 1949, where he worked as a morning radio DJ and performed in nightclubs. He began his television career on WKRC-TV with Soupy's Soda Shop, TV's first teen dance program, and Club Nothing!, a late-night comedy/variety program.

When WKRC canceled his TV shows, Sales moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he hosted another radio and TV series and continued his nightclub act. It was in a skit on his late night comedy/variety TV series Soupy's On! that he got his first pie in the face. Soupy claims he left the Cleveland station "for health reasons: they got sick of me." Sales moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1953 and worked for WXYZ-TV (Channel 7), ABC's O&O station.
Lunch with Soupy Sales

Sales is best known for his daily children's television show, Lunch with Soupy Sales. The show was originally called 12 O'Clock Comics, and was later known as The Soupy Sales Show. Improvised and slapstick in nature, Lunch with Soupy Sales was a rapid-fire stream of comedy sketches, gags, and puns, almost all of which resulted in Sales' receiving a pie in the face, which became his trademark.

Sales developed pie-throwing into an art form: straight to the face, on top of the head, a pie to both ears from behind, moving into a stationary pie, and countless other variations. He claims to have been hit by over 25,000 pies during his career.

History of the show


The show originated in 1953 from the studios of WXYZ-TV in Detroit, Michigan. Beginning in October 1959, it was telecast nationally on the ABC television network.

Clyde Adler operated all the puppets on Sales' show in Detroit.

Los Angeles

In 1960, Soupy moved to the ABC-TV Studios in Los Angeles, California. ABC dropped the show from the network schedule in March 1961, but it continued as a local program until January 1962. The show briefly went back on the ABC network as a late night fill-in for the Steve Allen Show in 1962 but was canceled after three months.

All of the puppets on the show during its Los Angeles run were also operated by Clyde Adler.

New York

In 1964, Sales found a new weekday home at WNEW-TV in New York City. This version was seen locally until September 1966, and 260 episodes were syndicated by Screen Gems to local stations outside the New York market during the 1965-1966 season. This show marked the height of Sales' popularity. It featured guest appearances by stars such as Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., as well as musical groups like the Shangri-Las and The Supremes.

As with his earlier shows, Sales performed musical numbers on the show and his extensive jazz record collection was used in his TV work. "Mumbles" by Oscar Peterson with Clark Terry was Pookie's theme. "Comin' Home Baby" by Herbie Mann was the theme for Sales' "Gunninger the Mentalist" character (a parody of Dunninger the Mentalist).

This was also the period when Sales starred in the movie comedy Birds Do It.

During the run of the New York show, actor Frank Nastasi played White Fang, Black Tooth, Pookie, and all the "guy at the door" characters.

The New Soupy Sales Show: Los Angeles

The New Soupy Sales Show appeared in 1978 with the same format, and ran for one season. 65 episodes were briefly syndicated nationally to local stations in early 1979.

It was taped in Los Angeles, with Clyde Adler returning to work as a puppeteer with Sales.
Characters on the show

Clyde Adler, a film editor at Detroit's WXYZ-TV, performed in sketches and voiced and operated all puppets on Sales' show in Detroit in the 1950s and in Los Angeles from 1959-62 and 1978. Actor Frank Nastasi assumed the role of straight man and puppeteer when Sales took the show to New York from 1964 to 1966. Nastasi was originally from Detroit and had worked with Sales at WXYZ.

Appearing on the show were both puppets and live performers.

The puppets were:

* White Fang, "The Biggest and Meanest Dog in the USA," who appeared only as a giant white shaggy paw with black triangular felt "claws" jutting out from the corner of the screen. Fang spoke with unintelligible short grunts and growls, which Soupy repeated back in English, for comic effect. White Fang was often the pie thrower when Soupy's jokes bombed.

* Black Tooth, "The Biggest and Sweetest Dog in the USA." Also seen only as a giant black paw with white triangular felt (just the opposite of White Fang), and with more feminine, but similarly unintelligible, dialogue. Black Tooth's trademark was pulling Soupy off-camera to give loud and noisy kisses.

* Pookie the Lion, a lion puppet appearing in a large window behind Soupy (1950s), was a hipster with a rapier wit. His repartee with Soupy was rapid-fire. For example: Soupy: "Do you know why my life is so miserable?" Pookie: "You got me!" Soupy: "That's why!" One of Pookie's favorite lines when greeting Soupy was, "Hey bubby... want a kiss?". In the Detroit shows, Pookie never spoke but communicated in whistles. That puppet also was used to mouth the words while pantomiming novelty records on the show.

* Hippy the Hippo, a minor character who occasionally appeared with Pookie the Lion and never spoke. Frank Nastasi gave Hippy a voice for the New York shows.

Regular live characters included:

* Peaches, Soupy's girlfriend, visually played by footage of Sales in drag.

* Philo Kvetch, a private detective played by Sales in a long-running comedy skit during the show's New York run (a parody of early 20th century fictional detective Philo Vance).

* The Mask, evil nemesis of Philo Kvetch, revealed in the last episode to be Nikita Khrushchev, who had been deposed about a year earlier.

* "Onions" Oregano, henchman of The Mask, played by Frank Nastasi, who ate loads of onions. Every time Oregano would breathe in Philo's direction, Philo would make all sorts of comic choking faces, pull out a can of air freshener, and say "Get those onions out of here!"

* Hobart and Reba, a husband and wife who lived in the potbelly stove on the New York set.

* Willie the Worm was a 35-cent toy Sales got from Woolworth's, according to WXYZ art director Jack Flechsig. With animated squeezings of his rubber air bulb, the latex accordion worm flexed in and out of a little apple. Willy was "The Sickest Worm in all of Dee-troit" and suffered from a perennial cold and comically-explosive sneeze. He helped read birthday greetings to Detroit-area kids while the show was on WXYZ. Willie didn't survive the show's move to the Big Apple, New York.

New Year's Day incident

On New Year's Day 1965, miffed at having to work on the holiday, Sales ended his live broadcast by encouraging his young viewers to tiptoe into their still-sleeping parents' bedrooms and remove those "funny green pieces of paper with pictures of U.S. Presidents" from their pants and pocketbooks. "Put them in an envelope and mail them to me," Soupy instructed the children. "And I'll send you a postcard from Puerto Rico!" He was then hit with a pie.

Several days later, a chagrined Soupy announced that money was unexpectedly being received in the mail. He explained that he had been joking and announced that the contributions would be donated to charity. As parents' complaints increased, WNEW's management felt compelled to suspend Sales for two weeks. Young viewers picketed Channel 5. The uproar surrounding Sales' suspension increased his popularity.

Sales describes the incident in his 2001 autobiography Soupy Sez! My Life and Zany Times.
Claims that Sales told dirty jokes on the air

An urban legend claimed Sales sneaked off-color humor onto his show for the amusement of his huge adult audience. This has been disproven repeatedly, including by For many years, Sales had a standing offer of $10,000 to anyone who could prove he worked "blue" on his kids' shows. Nobody ever took the offer, although the rumor persisted. Sales states in his autobiography:

After many years, I think I finally figured out how these ridiculous stories got started. Kids would come home and they'd tell a dirty joke, you know, grade school humor, and the parents would say, "Where'd you hear that?" And they'd say "The Soupy Sales Show," because I happened to have the biggest show in town. And they'd call another person and say, "Gladys, did you hear the joke that Soupy Sales was telling on his show?" and the word of mouth goes on and on, until people start to believe you actually said things like that.

Topless dancer pranks

The show's set included a door in the background. During the show, Sales would answer a knock at the door and interact with an actor seen only as an arm. Occasionally, the person at the door was a celebrity, such as Burt Lancaster, Fess Parker or Alice Cooper.

One time, while the show was being broadcast live from Detroit, Sales' studio crew pulled a prank on him: when he opened the door, he saw a topless dancer partially covered with a balloon. Some reports say the gag was furthered by the crew switching the studio monitors so that Soupy would think the stripper image was going out over the air.

During the Los Angeles years, as Sales was ending the show, he also opened the door and saw a topless dancer gyrating with a balloon. A second, nonbroadcasting, camera captured the uncensored version, while a stagehand moved a balloon back and forth in the doorway, giving at least some indication to the home viewers what was supposed to be behind the door. Sales was forced to try to keep the show going without revealing the risque scene backstage. This event, in both censored and uncensored variations, has been featured on many blooper compilations.


Sales' novelty dance record, The Mouse, dates from the mid-1960s period of his career, when his show was based in New York. Sales performed The Mouse on the Ed Sullivan Show in September 1965. He appeared on the Sullivan Show several times, once with The Beatles.

Sales signed with Motown Records in the late 1960s, releasing a single, "Muck-Arty Park" (a play on the 1968 hit "MacArthur Park"), as well as the album "A Bag of Soup".

Game shows

From 1968 to 1975, Sales was a regular panelist on the syndicated revival of What's My Line? He usually was the first panelist introduced and occupied the chair on the far left side (facing the camera), opposite Arlene Francis. In 2001, indie duo They Might Be Giants marveled to one interviewer that "Soupy Sales always knew all the jazz guys, and they all knew him. That was impressive."

In 1977, Sales was the host of Junior Almost Anything Goes, ABC's Saturday morning version of their team-based physical stunt program.

Sales was also a panelist on the 1980 revival of To Tell the Truth; he had appeared as a guest on the show during the mid- to late 1970s.

Other game show appearances included over a dozen episodes of the original "Match Game" from 1966 to 1969, a week of shows on the 1970s edition of Match Game, a few guest spots on Hollywood Squares (December 12, 1977 & April 4, 1978) as well as a few appearances on the combined version on (The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour) in 1983-84 and a recurring role in all versions of The $10,000 Pyramid from 1973 to 1991. In one episode, he repeatedly uttered the word "bacon" in an attempt to get a befuddled contestant to say "greasy things." He also made an appearance on Pictionary in 1997.

Radio show

During the 1980s Sales had a radio show for several years on WNBC (AM) radio in New York at the time when Howard Stern had an afternoon show on the same station. Sales and Stern did not get along. There was an incident of Stern's cutting the strings in Sales' in-studio piano at 4:05 p.m. on May 1, 1985. On December 21, 2007, Stern revealed this was a stunt staged for "theater of the mind" and to torture Sales; in truth, the piano was never harmed.

Sales' WNBC 10 a.m. time slot immediately followed the Imus in the Morning drive-time show. Don Imus had a dislike for Sales, which was displayed through disparaging on-air comments.

Sales was taken off the air in the middle of his show. He had begun to complain to the audience that his contract had not been renewed and that his sidekick Ray D'Ariano had been given the time slot, so he urged listeners to complain to the station. When the show went to commercial, Sales was replaced by the station's program director, who played music for the rest of the allotted time. Sales never returned. Don Imus showed no sympathy for Soupy Sales and continued to disparage.


In 1983, Sales did voice work for Ruby-Spears, voicing Donkey Kong in the animated show Saturday Supercade.

Personal life

Sales had two sons, Hunt Sales and Tony Sales, who are musicians who have played with David Bowie, Todd Rundgren and Iggy Pop. He was married to former Broadway and June Taylor dancer Trudy Carson.

Soupy Sales, dead at age 83


Soupy Sales, the rubber-faced comedian who made an art form out of taking a pie in the face and delighted a generation of Detroiters with his loopy TV show on Channel 7 in the 1950s, died Thursday night in New York.

Sales, who had been in ill health for several years, was 83. His former manager, Dave Usher, said Sales last week entered a Bronx hospice, where he died. He is survived by his wife, Trudy, and two sons, Hunt and Tony.

“He was the first person from Detroit television whose first name had instant recognition from coast to coast,” said former Channel 7 anchorman Bill Bonds. “If you said ‘Soupy' in New York, they knew who it was. If you said ‘Soupy' in Los Angeles, everybody knew who it was. I'd worked in both markets, and the first thing anybody said when I mentioned I was from Detroit was ‘Soupy.' ”

Born Milton Supman in Franklinton, N.C., and raised in West Virginia, 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.”

The show was “must-see” TV, long before NBC came up with the phrase. Thousands of Detroit baby boomers would become “Birdbaths,” the designation given to members of his club.

Tom De Lisle, a Detroit writer and TV producer, once recalled to the Free Press growing up on Detroit's east side and watching the show. He and his brother, Skip, lived close enough to their grade school that they could go home for lunch to watch Sales.

“We calculated that we could catch the last joke on the show and make it back to our desks by the time the bell rang if we ran like hell. And that's what we did,” recalled De Lisle. “We stood in the doorway, hung right to the last second of Soupy's show, said ‘Go!' and ran. The show was creative, different and live every day.”

With the success of the noontime show, Channel 7 quickly developed a nighttime show, “Soupy's On,” for the 11 p.m. time period.

“Soupy's On” was a comedy-variety show, with Sales performing sketch comedy with a team of local actors and actresses. He also regularly featured the best jazz performers of the day, including Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.

Sales created a multitude of characters for his evening show: Charles Vichyssoise, a slippery French crooner who was forever sparring with unruly patrons at the Club Chi Chi; Wyatt Burp, and Ernest Hemingbone, who argued with his literary rivals.

Sales later admitted that the pace of doing a noon show and a 11 p.m. live comedy program — one hour of live television, five days a week — contributed to the breakup of his marriage, played havoc with his family life and left him exhausted.

But he made serious money for Channel 7 — so much money that Sales could be credited with saving the American Broadcasting Company, which owned the station, in addition to the ABC-TV network. At the time, ABC was struggling and relied heavily on its owned-and-operated stations in cities like Detroit, where Sales was raking it in.

Sales left Detroit in late 1959 and ended up at KABC-TV, the ABC-owned station in Los Angeles.

“I thought it was time to move on because I didn't want to be 60, 65 and be sitting around one night having a drink and wonder if I could have made it in another market,” he wrote in his autobiography, “Soupy Sez.”

After Detroit, Sales hosted children's shows in New York and Los Angeles. Frank Sinatra asked to appear on the Sales show in Los Angeles and take a pie in the face.

When Sinatra appeared on the set, a director offered the singer a tour of the set. “Don't bother,” Sinatra reportedly said, “I know the show better than you do.”

Sales' L.A. show ran between 1961 and 1963, but was canceled because local television was moving from live, locally produced TV to syndicated material.

But Sales had one more go-around with children's television, at New York's WNEW-TV between 1964 and 1967, where he get into trouble for jokingly asking his fans to send him money.

Sales was suspended for the stunt, but reinstated after massive demonstrations in front of WNEW-TV studios.

Sales left Channel 5 in New York in 1968 after years of fighting with station management.

His attitude about station managers, which remained unchanged until his death, was that TV executives ruined television. He said that most station managers would not “know a tap dancer from a trombone player,” and that their primary contribution was “getting drunk on their six-martini lunches.”

His mark on television remained well into the 1980s and beyond. New York Times critic John J. O'Connor noted in 1986 that Pee-wee Herman's act could be traced back to Sales.

Said Channel 7 anchorman Erik Smith: “He was our youth. He was my lunch every day. He was my Jell-O. He had that profound an impact as an individual as anybody in the history of Detroit television. I still find myself doing some of his mannerisms. And I'm still a proud Birdbath.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TOMMY COOPER: Prof. Cheer's Comedy Rope Trick


Gee, this clown is kinda... well, "clowny". He looks like a clown, moves like a clown and does the sort of things that a clown would do. But isn't this a Cirque show? Aren't the clowns all supposed to be flamboyant, haunted space rutabagas or steampunk ladybugs or something?

KAREN BELL: Red Skelton Theater, Vincennes, IN (2009)

For more information on my friend Karen, a wonderful clown and an excellent instructor, please click the title of this post.


"The Fun Theory is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better."

To view more video and learn more about The Fun Theory, please click the title of this post.

Monday, October 19, 2009


"He's a Woozle..."


I spent most of the day in an awful funk over the news of Bill Strong's passing.

I got a call from a friend at just the right time that picked me up and helped me get on with my day. I'm still not in the greatest spirits, but I'm much better than I was.

And when you feel low what's better than some Banana Man?


I've just learned that Bill Strong has passed away.

Please excuse me if I just say right now...