Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Soupy Sales sneaked smutty jokes into his television program.
Origins: In 1953, a struggling young comedian and radio personality named Soupy Hines, tired of eking out a living doing stand-up gigs at clubs around the Cincinnati area, acted on a tip from a friend and drove to Detroit in the hope of finding work in television. Born Milton Supman — "Soupy" was a childhood nickname suggested by a Southern pronunciation of his last name, and the surname "Hines" was an adopted reference to the Hines Soup Company — Hines had some experience in the new medium, having hosted a teenage dance show and an evening interview/comedy program in Cincinnati, but the job he landed at TV station WXYZ in Detroit was unlike anything he'd tried before: hosting a daily lunchtime show for children.
Soupy's 12 o'clock Comics (soon changed to Lunch with Soupy, and after a final surname change a few years later, Lunch with Soupy Sales) was unlike any other children's program. Soupy was neither a sober adult figure who provided children with daily lessons nor a costume-clad huckster who furnished the continuity for a string of cartoons and commercials. With his cast of puppets — Pookie, the hip lion; Willie, the sickest worm in Detroit; White Fang, the meanest dog in Detroit; Black Tooth, the sweetest dog in Detroit (the latter two each represented only by a single
Soupy's popularity grew through his years of hosting a daily show in Detroit, a noontime program on the ABC network, and an early evening spot for KABC in
Soupy also became something else — like Bob Hope before him and Johnny Carson after him, Soupy was often identified as the putative source of anonymous bits of salacious schoolyard humor. Due in large part to the free-wheeling, improvisational nature of his live show (as exemplified by his notorious "little green pieces of paper" broadcast on New Year's Day in 1965) he acquired a false reputation for sneaking all sorts of barely-disguised sexual innuendo and four-letter words into his program from kids who swore those dirty jokes they were telling had come straight from Soupy's mouth. The risqué gags attributed to Soupy over the years include the following:
[A]bout those myths. There were all these other things I was supposed to have said, like "What begins with 'F' and ends withSoupy's assessment of how these rumors came to be associated with his TV show agrees with ours:
I got so annoyed at these stories that I used to have a standing offer of ten thousand dollars cash to anyone who could prove that I said any of the things that people claim I've said. Look, at every TV station, whether you know it or not, there's a little spool in the master machine in engineering that records everything that's said, everything that goes on. And believe me, if I said half the things I'm supposed to have said, they would be on some blooper record making the rounds.
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,Last updated: 8 August 2007
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