"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A brief pause in my whirlwind

I've been on-the-go, as they say, a lot recently. So much so that I emailed my schedule to my hubby, just in case I forgot to tell him anything. In the past two weeks, I've been to Bouchercon, two library events, a book club, have I told you about the Placentia Heritage Festival? Stories to tell, my friends, stories to tell.

And then Soupy Sales died.

There are probably TONS of people who don't have a clue who Soupy Sales was, but he was as much a part of my childhood as Captain Kangaroo. Yeah, I know - you haven't heard of him, either.

The Soupy Sales Show was a little like Pee Wee's Playhouse, without the creepy factor. There was a lot of comic banter with his two "dogs", White Fang and Black Tooth, which were just enormous paws that would wave out from the camera while they "talked." Their words were just the same kind of "whaa" syllables, like saying the word rat but replacing the r with a wh-sound. White Fang had a gruff voice and Black Tooth had a mewling voice.

Then there were the two puppets at the window, Pookie the Lion and Hippy the Hippopotamus. I don't think either of them spoke, but Pookie would lip-sync Frank Sinatra singing "Young At Heart" which always used to crack me up.

Somewhere in the episode, Soupy would get a pie in the face, and he was fond of dancing and leaping. It's possible he was a little hyperactive. I'm glad they didn't try to treat it.

But what I remember the most vividly is the door. At some point there would be a knock at the door and Soupy would answer. Sometimes it was a famous person. Sometimes they'd show some clip from an old movie, like cowboys galloping and shooting toward the camera or an elephant stampede from a Tarzan movie. Once the crew played a trick on Soupy and had a naked lady, out of scene, greet him at the door.

When I wrote Freezer Burn, I put the Soupy Sales door idea into practice a few times. I had my major scenes planned, but there were some supporting scenes that I let myself wander around in. One of the setups I used was in Peri's office; there would be a knock at the door. Who would it be?

I was thinking of Soupy's show when I wrote these. I'd get a brief flash of a ridiculous jungle scene in my head, laugh, then start writing, which might have accounted for this exerpt:

The printer had just completed its job when the door opened and a tall, muscular man entered. His suit looked expensive, but he did not. Acne scars defined his shiny face, his small dark eyes were shadowed by thick, tangled brows. If baboons wore Armani, this is what they'd look like.

"You the private dick?"

"Private investigator," she told him. "How may I help you?"

He stood close to her desk, leaning slightly forward, his feet apart, and hands clasped together in front. "I represent a client who is interested in the Forever Roses ring. My client would like to be sure the ring goes to the rightful owner."

I can honestly say, I don't think I would have taken this approach to my book if I hadn't watched that goofy man open his door every week - and yes, sometimes he got a pie in the face.

Thank you, Soupy. I'll miss you.


Sue Ellis-Palacio said...

no one took a pie in the face like Soupy. He was an Icon, never to be replaced. Here's to slapstick.Hey, Hey.

L.J. Sellers said...

Thanks for sharing these memories and photos. I ordered Freezer Burn from Echelon and look forward to reading it.

N A Sharpe said...

Oh, now I'm sad. I hadn't heard. I have lots of great memories of Soupy Sales. He will definitely be missed.

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, our Dino used "The Door" notion very successfully on his Dinoshow....

Gayle Carline said...

Why, yes, Mr. Peters, he did! I remember watching Dean Martin with my grandmother and waiting excitedly to see who was knocking. It would seem, in my life, that all my roads took a detour through Dino-land!

Liz Kreger said...

Soupy was a little before my time but I remember watching Red Skelton as a kid. Loved him.

I once mentioned W.C. Fields to a younger attorney here at work once and got a totally blank look in return. Quizzed him about Mae West and the Marx Brothers. Got the same look. What a loss that so many of these brilliant comedians are lost.

dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, you sez Miss Gayle that..."It would seem, in my life, that all my roads took a detour through Dino-land!"

How cool is that...would loves to hear more 'bout those Dinodetours....

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