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    A Pie in the Face of Comedy: So Long, Soupy Sales

    Count your legends while they last.

    Iconic funnyman Soupy Sales (totally not his real name), perhaps best known for the thousands of pies he took to the face during his 30-plus years on TV and radio, died Thursday at a hospice in the Bronx. He was 83 and had been in bad health for some time, according to longtime friend and former manager Dave Usher.

    The rubber-faced slapstick specialist, whom Howard Stern has name-checked as one of his comedic heroes, started hosting the kids show Lunch With Soupy Sales in 1959, a combination of puppetry, skits and physical comedy that usually resulted in Sales being hit with a pie in the face.

    Just as Sesame Street transcends age groups, Sales made his kids show adult friendly by featuring celebs like Tony Curtis and Shirley MacLaine and any other good-natured star willing to take a pie to the punim.

    Sales, who was born Milton Supman to Hungarian-immigrant parents in North Carolina, took his "who needs a punchline when there's pie" schtick with him into the '60s and '70s, when he was also a regular panelist on the game show What's My Line?

    "I'll probably be remembered for the pies, and that's all right," Sales said in an interview in 1985.

    In what would have turned into one heck of a viral story if the Internet had been around in 1965, a disgruntled Sales ended his New Year's Day broadcast of The Soupy Sales Show by instructing his young audience to creep into their parents' bedrooms, take their parents' "funny green pieces of paper with pictures of U.S. presidents," and mail the paper to him.

    When money started arriving at the studio, Sales explained he was only joking and either returned the dough or donated the unreturnables to charity.

    The 1970s-era cast of Saturday Night Live once paid homage to the man by entreating its audience to mail in their joints.

    Sales is survived by his wife, Trudy, and his musician sons, Hunt and Tony.


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