Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.
TV URBAN LEGEND: A nude stripper appeared on the Soupy Sales Show.
David Arroyo wrote in to tell me about this one, but the one he sent me was not even the “real” one, which is even crazier than what he sent me!
You see, Soupy Sales was a popular kids entertainer who had a television show in Detroit.
The show was not filmed in front of a studio audiences, so there was plenty of room for rather ribald practical jokes. The craziest one would have to involve one time in the 1950s when his crew pulled one of the most amazing pranks you’ll ever think of.
I’ll let Ed Golick of the nifty Detroit Kid Shows website explain it for you:
There never was a written script for the show; Soupy and Clyde [puppeteer Clyde Adler, Soupy’s straight man/sidekick] would just work out what they were going to do, giving the director a bare-bones outline for camera angles and sound cues. The bit was for the ET man to play a recording of a woman screaming. Soupy would then run to the door, open it, and look down to see a pair of women’s shoes being pulled by fishing line, running from a pair of men’s shoes. Blackout, cut to commercial.
The studio that day was filled with curious onlookers who were in on the joke. Soupy knew that something was up, but he wasn’t quite sure what. The show started precisely at noon, and ran smoothly. At about 12:27 Soupy, as rehearsed, heard a woman’s scream. He ran to the door, opened it, and instead of a pair of women’s shoes saw a nude woman wearing nothing but a smile. Soupy stole a quick glance at the master monitor, hoping that the curvaceous cutie’s image wasn’t being broadcast live over the airwaves. Sure enough, to his horror the monitor showed exactly what Soupy had feared- a smiling nude woman. The engineers were clever enough to patch a different camera angle into the monitor, making Soupy think that thousands of Detroit kiddies were at home eating their lunches in front of the TV while getting a lesson in female anatomy. In reality, what the kids saw was a speechless Soupy standing next to an open door, nothing more. Soupy saw what he thought was his career passing before his eyes.
Isn’t that amazingly messed up?
The show would later move to film in Los Angeles. These shows were taped (so the offending material could easily be edited out) The crew pulled the gag on Soupy again. We have footage of that prank (that’s what David sent me).
Now Soupy hears a woman screaming (a standard bit on the show, causing him to go open the door to see what’s up)…
He opens the door…
And there’s the stripper…
Soupy’s reaction is hilarious…
He plays it off very well, but again, he knows that it was not going out live, so he didn’t have to worry about anyone actually SEEING the stripper, like he had to worry about back in Detroit. You can go to the Detroit Kid Show website here if you want to see an uncensored clip of the bit.
The legend is…
Thanks to David Arroyo for the suggestion and thanks to Ed Golick for the information!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.com.