23 October 2009

Zichron L'vracha: Soupy Sales, 1926-2009

Childhood was so different in the 1950s and early '60s. It was a simpler time, and television then was not television now (two distinctly different media). And television personalities were different as well, hearkening from the tradition of vaudeville and the infamous borscht belt that influenced generations of American comedians. Soupy Sales was one of the greats in children's entertainment - not the least for this child. He passed yesterday at the age of 83.

I remember his shtick with the pies-in-the-face, and the mostly off-screen puppets, and the joy of pure silliness. In retrospect, and now seeing some of his clips with the eyes of an adult somewhat versed in media theory and the ideas of Marshall McLuhan, I can see the sophistication and the sly asides to any parents who might have happened to be watching along with their kids (something that rarely happened back then). Soupy Sales was cool - his gags needed the participation and completion of the audience, and he spoke to the child-sensibilities in us all. Even in his latter years of declining health, he always respected and had great regard for his audience and fans. Here's hoping there will be a great big heavenly cream pie waiting for you upstairs.

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