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TV funny man Soupy Sales dies at 83

  • Story Highlights
  • "We have lost a comedy American icon," says comedian's friend and manager
  • He was known for his long-running children's show "Lunch With Soupy Sales"
  • Fans of the show anticipated his trademark pie-in-face gag
  • Sales also seen on "To Tell the Truth" and "What's My Line?"
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(CNN) -- Soupy Sales, a comedian from the golden era of television, died Thursday. He was 83.

Soupy Sales entertained generations of Americans with his off-the-cuff, wacky antics. He was 83.

Soupy Sales entertained generations of Americans with his off-the-cuff, wacky antics. He was 83.

The funny man seen many times on popular game shows died at a New York hospice, said Paul Dver, Sales' longtime friend and manager.

"We have lost a comedy American icon," Dver said. "I feel the personal loss, and I also feel the magic that he had around him being gone. That's a much more severe loss than a loss of a friend."

Sales was known for his long-running children's show "Lunch With Soupy Sales," which started in 1953 and began his trademark slapstick pie-throwing antics. The comedy show featured skits that culminated in Sales getting walloped with pies in the face. What are your memories of Sales?

"Soupy was the last of the great TV comics when you talk about Ernie Kovacs, Red Skelton, right down to Howdy Doody," Dver said. "But it was bigger than that, because he used a children's format aimed at the kids and then he would forget he was doing a kids' show and do a wild, unrehearsed, wacky improv for a half-hour every day for 15 years."

He could also inflame the authorities. One New Year's Day, upset at being asked to work, he asked his youthful audience to send him those "green pieces of paper" from their parents' wallets. Though he didn't receive much -- he told The New York Times he received only a few dollars -- he was suspended for a week for the prank.

Later in his career, he was a regular on TV game shows, such as "Hollywood Squares," "To Tell the Truth" and "What's My Line?"

Sales recently fell backstage at a local Emmy awards show in New York and developed serious ailments after that, Dver said.

CNN's Lee Garen contributed to this report.

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