Monday, October 26, 2009

Sales & Sons

Cynthia Turner provided a nice memory today of Milton Supman, better known as comedian Soupy Sales, in her daily Cynopsis e-mail digest of media-related news:

"And a nod to Soupy Sales, who passed away at the age of 83 late Thursday night. When I was 10, I was stuck at the JFK Airport in New York with my mother for three days and two nights—a result of a massive snowstorm. We had the good fortune to spend the time in the American Airlines Admiral's Club, in relative comfort, much different than most of the stranded, who were in the main airport areas downstairs. There were two celebrities also staying at the Admiral's Club—Goldie Hawn, TV's current It Girl on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, and Soupy Sales. Goldie Hawn didn't speak to anybody, and clearly did not want to be spoken to, either.

"Soupy was wonderfully approachable, for both the adults and me. He stayed awake for most of our 60-hour detention, spending the overnight hours downstairs putting on free stand-up shows for the throngs of people. I liked him on his television show, because I was just a kid. But I liked him better for what he did to make so many people's uncomfortable predicament altogether bearable, memorable, and even fun."

I don't remember Sales much from my own childhood except for an occasional pie hitting his face on Saturday-morning TV. However, I've always found it interesting that his sons, Hunt and Tony, are rock musicians who played drums and bass, respectively, on Iggy Pop's 1977 album Lust for Life and later formed the rhythm section of the David Bowie-fronted Tin Machine in the late '80s.

Before all that, though, the Sales brothers were two-thirds of Runt, Todd Rundgren's first band after he left Nazz. The two Runt albums, 1970's Runt and 1971's Runt. The Ballad of Todd Rundgren (my favorite album of all time), have since been reissued as Rundgren solo albums—he did write, produce, and sing every song on the two albums, and he played most of the instruments, and he's the only member of Runt who gets any face time on the album covers—so perhaps he felt overwhelmed at the time by the prospect of releasing anything under his own name, especially if it were to bomb. Rundgren, after all, was only 21 when he recorded that first album. And if Wikipedia is to be believed, Tony Sales was 18 and Hunt was 16 when they recorded Runt.

Rundgren, it turns out, was the oldest runt in the litter.

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