||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (January 2013)|
Lynde in 1973
|Born||Paul Edward Lynde
June 13, 1926
Mount Vernon, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||January 10, 1982
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Resting place||Amity Cemetery, Amity, Ohio|
|Residence||Beverly Hills, California|
|Education||B.A. from Northwestern University|
|Alma mater||Northwestern University|
|Home town||Amity, Ohio|
A noted character actor with a distinctively campy and snarky persona that often poked fun at his barely in the closet homosexuality, Lynde was well known for his roles as Uncle Arthur on Bewitched and Harry MacAfee, the befuddled father in Bye Bye Birdie – both the stage musical and the film-version. He was also the regular "center square" guest on the game show Hollywood Squares from 1968 to 1981 and was the voice of The Hooded Claw in the animated Hanna Barbera series, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, though never credited.
Early life 
Paul Lynde was born in Mount Vernon, Ohio, the son of Hoy Coradon and Sylvia Bell (Doup) Lynde. He graduated from Mount Vernon High School and studied drama at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where his fellow students included Cloris Leachman, Charlotte Rae, Patricia Neal, Jeffrey Hunter and Claude Akins. At Northwestern, he joined the Upsilon chapter of Phi Kappa Sigma and is listed amongst the most famous members of the fraternity. He graduated in 1948 and moved to New York City, where he initially worked as a stand-up comic.
Lynde made his Broadway debut in the hit revue New Faces of 1952 in which he co-starred with fellow newcomers Eartha Kitt, Alice Ghostley, and Carol Lawrence. In his monologue from that revue, the "Trip of the Month Club," Lynde portrayed a man on crutches recounting his misadventures on the African safari he took with his late wife. The show was filmed and released as New Faces in 1954.
After the revue's run, Lynde co-starred in the short-lived 1956 sitcom Stanley opposite Buddy Hackett and Carol Burnett, both of whom were also starting out their careers in show business. That same year, he guest starred on NBC's The Martha Raye Show, a comedy/variety show.
In 1960, Lynde returned to Broadway when he was cast as "Harry MacAfee," the father in Bye Bye Birdie. He reprised the role in the play's film adaptation, which was released in 1963. That same year, he recorded a live album, Recently Released, issued as an LP record (no other formats are available). All six tracks were written by him. Once he could afford writers, he rarely used his own material until his tenure on Hollywood Squares years later.
Over the years, Lynde made regular appearances on sitcoms such as The Phil Silvers Show, The Munsters, and I Dream of Jeannie, and variety shows such as The Perry Como Show and The Dean Martin Show. Lynde first appeared in episode 26 of Bewitched, "Driving is the Only Way to Fly," as Samantha's driving instructor Harold Harold, before taking on the recurring role of Uncle Arthur, Endora's brother. He was also a frequent guest on the 1976-79 variety show Donny and Marie.
Lynde, also, did extensive voice work on animated cartoons, particularly those of Hanna-Barbera Productions. His most notable roles included The Hooded Claw in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop (although he was uncredited), Mildew Wolf from It's the Wolf (a segment of Cattanooga Cats), and Pertwee from Where's Huddles?. He also voiced the role of Templeton the gluttonous rat in the animated feature Charlotte's Web. Lynde's sardonic inflections added a dimension to such lines as the sly, drawn-out whine, "What's in it for meeee?" Lynde's distinctive voice is popular among impressionists. In the 1999 animated series Queer Duck the character Bi-Polar Bear (voiced by Billy West) speaks with an imitation of Lynde's voice. Although it is sometimes assumed that actress Alice Ghostley based her speech patterns and mannerisms on Lynde's, according to actress Kaye Ballard "it was Paul who was influenced by Alice".
The Hollywood Squares 
In 1966, Lynde debuted on the fledgling game show Hollywood Squares and quickly became its iconic guest star. Eventually he assumed a permanent spot as the "center square," a move which ensured that he would be called upon by contestants at least once in almost every round. Despite an urban legend to the contrary, Paul Lynde remained in the center at the producers' discretion. Many NBC tour guides have claimed that Lynde was afraid of earthquakes and the center square proved to be the safest square of the show's set. An anecdote related during the A&E Biography on Lynde described an earthquake that occurred during the Hollywood Squares taping that frightened and alarmed many of the guests. Lynde remained in his seat, tapping his fingers, asking if they were going to finish the show.
It was on Hollywood Squares that Lynde was best able to showcase his comedic talents with short, salty one-liners, delivered in his trademark sniggering delivery. Many of these gags were thinly-veiled allusions to his homosexuality. Asked "You're the world's most popular fruit. What are you?" Lynde replied, "Humble." Asked whether it was against the law in Texas to call a Marine a "sissy," Lynde quipped, "I guess I’ll have to take the law into my own hands."
Other jokes relied on double entendre, an alleged fondness for deviant behaviors, or dealt with "touchy" subject matter for 1970s television. One example:
- Q: The great writer George Bernard Shaw once wrote, 'It's such a wonderful thing, what a crime to waste it on children.' What is it?
- Lynde: A whipping.
- Q: Paul, any good boat enthusiast should know that when a man falls out of your boat and into the water, you should yell 'Man overboard!' Now what should you yell if a woman falls overboard?
- Lynde: Full speed ahead!
The Paul Lynde Show and The New Temperatures Rising 
In 1972, Lynde starred in the short-lived ABC sitcom, The Paul Lynde Show, playing an uptight attorney and father at odds with his liberal-minded son-in-law. The series was a contractual fulfillment to ABC in place of a final season of Bewitched.
The series starred Lynde as Paul Simms, the father of a family that consisted of his wife Martha (Elizabeth Allen) and daughters Barbara (Jane Actman) and Sally (Pamelyn Ferdin). It also starred John Calvin as Barbara's husband, Howie, and Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara as Howie's parents. Critics perceived the show as derivative of All in the Family, then television's most-popular primetime program, although many admitted the writing was top notch and the sexual connotations gave it an extra bit of spice. For his role in the series, Lynde was nominated for a Best Actor Golden Globe. Scheduled opposite the first half of the Top 30 hit The Carol Burnett Show on CBS and the Top 20 hit Adam-12 on NBC, the series garnered low ratings and was canceled after one season (26 episodes).
Media reports at the time about ABC programs indicated that research showed viewers liked another ABC show, Temperatures Rising but disliked James Whitmore, whereas viewers liked Paul Lynde but not The Paul Lynde Show. Therefore, the network and producer William Asher decided to fire Whitmore and combine the positive elements of both series. Lynde was "transferred" to Temperatures Rising for the 1973-74 season. The trick did not work and the ratings for The New Temperatures Rising sank within weeks of the premiere.
Due to plummeting ratings, the network cancelled the show mid-season, its time slot taken by a mid-season replacement, the long-running Happy Days. ABC resuscitated it - with still more changes in cast (most notably, Alice Ghostley replaced Sudie Bond in the role of Paul's sister Edwina) and premise - in the summer of 1974, when it ran for two months. Neither actor's presence in the cast helped the show's flagging ratings and this series, too, was not renewed and was replaced permanently by Happy Days. In 1978 Paul received a special Emmy Award for being voted the funniest man of the year, which he immediately turned over to host Jackie Gleason, citing him as "the funniest man ever." This gesture was totally unexpected and shocked Jackie Gleason.
Personal life 
Paul Lynde's sexual orientation was something of an open secret in Hollywood, although, in keeping with the prejudices and social mores of the time, it was not acknowledged or discussed in public. In a 2013 radio interview, Dick Van Dyke recalled the wrap party for Bye Bye Birdie. A series of men gave short speeches, each one praising Ann-Margret and predicting success and stardom for the young actress. When it was Paul Lynde's turn to speak, he began, "Well, I guess I'm the only one here who doesn’t want to fuck Ann-Margret."
In 1965, Lynde was involved in an accident in which a young actor, reputed to be his lover, fell to his death from the window of their hotel room in San Francisco's Sir Francis Drake Hotel. The two had been drinking for hours before 24-year-old James "Bing" Davidson slipped and fell eight stories, an event witnessed by two policemen, yet the event was largely kept out of the press, thus saving Lynde's career.
Despite his campy television persona, Lynde never publicly came out as gay and the press generally refrained from commenting about it. In 1976, a People magazine article on Lynde featured him and Stan Finesmith; the latter was dubbed Lynde's "suite mate" and “chauffeur-bodyguard.” In the 1970s, this was as close as the press would come to hinting at his sexuality.
Alcoholism, arrests and final years 
Although he was voted America’s favorite comedian in a 1974 poll and highly sought out for every manner of TV game and variety show, it was the failure of his two series that reportedly exacerbated Lynde’s drinking problem, leading to numerous run-ins with the law and frequent arrests for public intoxication. According to Peter Marshall (Florence Henderson Show, 2008) and Kaye Ballard (E True Hollywood Story, 2000) the comedic actor would sometimes verbally ridicule his friends when inebriated.
Despite this, Lynde's amazing popularity led to his being signed by ABC to host a series of specials from 1975 to 1979, including: The Paul Lynde Comedy Hour (November 6, 1975) with Jack Albertson, Nancy Walker and the Osmond Brothers; The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (October 29, 1976) featuring the first prime-time network appearance of KISS, along with Margaret Hamilton recreating her role as the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. Hamilton and Billie Hayes (as H.R. Pufnstuf's Witchiepoo) teamed up in a skit to kidnap Paul in one of the campiest holiday celebrations of all time. Other guests included Betty White, Donny Osmond and Marie Osmond, Tim Conway and Roz Kelly as Happy Days' Pinkie Tuscadero; The Paul Lynde Comedy Hour (April 23, 1977) with Cloris Leachman and Tony Randall; 'T'was the Night Before Christmas  with Alice Ghostley, Martha Raye, George Gobel and Foster Brooks; The Paul Lynde Comedy Hour (May 20, 1978) with Juliet Prowse, Brenda Vaccaro and Harry Morgan of M*A*S*H.
Lynde also suffered from weight control problems, and was honored in 1977 by Weight Watchers. That same year, Lynde's beloved dog, Harry MacAfee, died. Lynde could not stay in the house without him, and bought a new home later in the year. Once again, he spent a great deal of money to renovate the house.
In January 1978, Lynde was in Salt Lake City for an appearance on the Donny and Marie Show. At about 1:30 in the morning on January 4, he was arrested outside of a gay bar for interfering with a police officer. The officer, who was investigating a car burglary, claimed Lynde kept insisting that the officer "...attend to Lynde's complaint that his briefcase with $1,000 in cash and valuables inside had been stolen."  The complaint was later dropped, but as a result of the arrest, he lost his guest starring role on The Donny and Marie Show.
After the airing of his final programs for ABC, Paul Lynde at the Movies (March 1979) with guests Betty White, Vicki Lawrence, Robert Urich and Gary Coleman and Paul Lynde Goes M-A-A-A-AD (May 20, 1979) with Marie Osmond, Charo and Vicki Lawrence, Lynde's disenchantment with being "boxed into" the Hollywood Squares led him to leave the series despite not having any other offers of work.
After this, acting jobs became harder for him to find, although it is unclear if this was because of anti-gay prejudice or his substance abuse problems and noted erratic behavior, which often made him difficult to work with. He had been arrested for drunk driving and, while under the influence of alcohol, he was known to make rude and racist public comments towards people.
Lynde finally became sober and drug free in early 1980. At this time, Hollywood Squares was experiencing a downward trend in ratings. Lynde did not want to return, but according to Peter Marshall, its producers made Lynde an offer he could not refuse – including co-star billing with Marshall – and he returned to the series in the spring of that year. He remained with the show until it was cancelled in February 1981.
Death and legacy 
On Monday, January 11, 1982 after Lynde had failed to turn up for a birthday celebration, his friend Paul Barresi became concerned. When he and another friend, actor Dean Ditman, could not get an answer on the phone or from knocking on his door, Barresi broke into the side entrance to Lynde's Beverly Hills, California home where Lynde was found dead in his bed. Contrary to stories suggesting Lynde had a visitor at the time of his death who fled the scene, this is not true. Lynde always put the house alarm on before retiring for the evening. When Barresi broke in, the alarm blared, indicating Lynde was alone at the time of his death. The coroner ruled the death a heart attack. Lynde's cremated remains are interred at Amity Cemetery, in Amity, (Knox County) Ohio, next to those of his brother Johnny and sister Helen. His father and mother are buried at the same cemetery.
Paul Lynde's popularity has continued after his death. According to cartoon creator/voice actor, Seth MacFarlane, the voice of Roger the Alien on the Fox television show American Dad! was modelled after him. The voice and humor of Queer Duck character Bi-Polar Bear – voiced by Ren & Stimpy and Futurama actor Billy West – is also done in the style of Paul Lynde, as was the supervillain The Scoutmaster in the Simpsons episode Radioactive Man. Steve Carell reprised Lynde's role as "Uncle Arthur" in the 2005 film Bewitched, very much in Lynde's style. The voice of Big Cheese on Samurai Pizza Cats was a Paul Lynde impression. The voice and humor of William A. Mummy on the GSN game show Late Night Liars is performed in the vein of Paul Lynde as well.
Actor/comedian Michael Airington also plays Paul Lynde in the show Oh My Goodness it's Paul Lynde and An Evening with Paul Lynde, recreating Lynde's 1976 live show, and in Off Center: The Paul Lynde Show. Airington licenses the rights from the Paul Lynde Estate.
See also 
- Paul E. Lynde, age 3-9/12 years. U.S. Census, 1 April 1930, State of Ohio, County of Knox, enumeration district 9, p. 7A, family 202.
- Paul Edward Lynde, born 13 June 1926, died 11 January 1982. Ancestry.com. California Death Index, 1940–1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2000.
- "Paul Lynde Biography (1926–1982)". Biography.com. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
- "Paul Lynde". What A Character!. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
- Vincent Canby (21 June 1998). "A Lost Theatrical Form Returns With a Smile". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
- Dennis McLellan (22 September 2007). "'Bewitched's' Esmeralda Dies at 81". The Los Angeles Times.
- http://www.life.com/gallery/41132/image/2192797[dead link]
- Zingers from the Hollywood Squares LP, Event Records, 1974
- Paul Lynde: Off Center, A&E Home Video, 2001
- I Love the 70s: 1971, VH1, 2003
- Peter Marshall Kaye Ballard (E True Hollywood Story, 2000)
- "Bing Davidson Biography". Internet Movie Database. Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
- "Paul Lynde doing the Weather ...". Retrieved 26 May 2011.
- The Sumter Daily - Jan 4, 1978
- http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=xBJGAAAAIBAJ&sjid=KNEMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6913,912817&dq=paul+lynde+heart+attack&hl=en Daily Times - January 12, 1982
- Rush & Molloy (1 September 2005). Lynde bio squarely denies he OD'd. New York Daily News
- Paul Lynde Biography The Jacksonville Confidential Dec 07, 2006
- "An Evening with Paul Lynde – Trailer – Cast – Showtimes – NYTimes.com". Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2009-10-29.
- "Paul Lynde play at Exit Theatre gets pulled over copyright claim | Culture Monster | Los Angeles Times". Latimesblogs.latimes.com. 2009-02-28. Retrieved 2009-10-29.
- Paul Lynde at the Internet Movie Database
- Paul Lynde at the Internet Broadway Database
- Paul Lynde at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- What Happened to Paul Lynde? at TVParty.com
- Paul Lynde at the Rotten Library (also contains a list of Hollywood Squares quips)
- Paul Lynde at Find a Grave
- Paul Lynde quips from Hollywood Squares
- Sacks, Mike. Queer as folk Salon.com, August 23, 2005.
- Center Square: The Paul Lynde Story (2005) by Steve Wilson and Joe Florenti