Soupy Sales learned a valuable valuable lesson on January 1, 1965. He jokingly asked kids watching The Soupy Sales Show to go into their parents’ wallets and send him the “little green pieces of paper.” “It was just a gag,” said Soupy, who was reported to the FCC and suspended for two weeks. “It was the first time I realized how powerful TV was.”

Born Milton Supman in Franklinton, North Carolina, Soupy had an equally powerful impact on his own children. “I did get a work ethic from him,” son Hunt Sales (who, along with brother Tony, went on to become musicians in David Bowie’s band, Tin Machine) tells Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “He raised me the way he was raised, as opposed to spoiling me, and instilled morals and values in me.”

Soupy didn’t set out to be a kids’ entertainer, but “they gave him an opportunity to do a children’s show, and he turned it into much more,” says Hunt, 65. As Soupy explained, “Once I found out adults were watching, too, I never consciously changed anything to play to them.”

Soupy Sales in 2005
Jim Smeal/BEI/Shutterstock

It turns out audiences of all ages can’t resist a pie in the face — Soupy’s signature gag. “One of my younger fans made the mistake of heaving a frozen pie at me,” Soupy said. “I dropped like a pile of bricks.”

The shtick made Soupy famous. “All kinds of people came to the house, from Frank Sinatra to George ‘Goober’ Lindsey,” Hunt recalls. “But my dad didn’t like the Hollywood showbiz thing.”

Instead, Soupy (who died at 83 in 2009) focused on his life’s mission: cracking people up. “He gave people joy — that is no small thing in this world,” says Hunt. “People of all races have told me how much they enjoyed his humor. He was a people person, and he loved what he did.”

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