Paul Lynde, The Off Centered Life Of This Hollywood Square

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Paul Edward Lynde (June 13, 1926 – January 11, 1982) was an American comedian, voice artist, actor, and TV personality.

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 the befuddled father Harry MacAfee in Bye Bye Birdie. He was also the regular “center square” panelist on the game show Hollywood Squares from 1968 to 1981, and he voiced two Hanna-Barbera productions; he was Templeton the gluttonous rat in Charlotte’s Web and The Hooded Claw in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.

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TRIVIA:

  • Attended Northwestern University (Evanston, IL).
  • Posthumously “outed” by Boze Hadleigh, who has written extensively about previously closeted Hollywood actors/actresses.
  • The coroner who examined his body said he had the heart of an 88-year-old man.
  • Told his agent shortly before his death that he had given up cigarettes and alcohol.
  • Long-time “center square” and court jester in residence on the original The Hollywood Squares (1965), Paul Lynde’s quips on that show are still quoted and laughed at, to this day.
  • A fan once set up a museum full of Paul Lynde memorabilia in his hometown of Mount Vernon, Ohio
  • His older brother Cordon died in World War II.
  • Lynde left The Hollywood Squares (1965) in 1979, in a dispute over his salary. When tabloids ran stories claiming he had been fired for his drinking as well as on-set problems, he sued them for libel, seeking $10 million in damages.
  • Explained his lifelong bachelorhood to fans (in the days before “coming out”) by telling them his high-school sweetheart had broken his heart, and he was still too hurt to give other women a chance.
  • His classmates at Northwestern University included Cloris Leachman, Charlotte Rae, Jeffrey Hunter, Claude Akins, Martha Hyer, Patricia Neal, and Agnes Nixon.
  • He had a weight problem that he fought to control his entire life.
  • When he first went to New York, he lived in an apartment building that housed many other struggling actors. The building had communal kitchens, kitchens shared by all the tenants of a floor. One of the other actors in the building claimed that Lynde used to steal his food from the refrigerator. That actor was a young Marlon Brando.
  • Holds a unique place in show business history – he actually got to sing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” the song he performed nightly in the Broadway musical “Bye Bye Birdie” about the excitement of appearing on the iconic “Ed Sullivan Show”.
  • In “Center Square: The Paul Lynde Story,” biographers Steve Wilson and Joe Florenski lay to rest rumors that there was something suspicious about Lynde’s death at the age of 55. Dismissing such rumors that the comedian was murdered by a hustler who robbed Lynde’s house and left him dead and naked, the authors say that Lynde did die of a heart attack, as the coroner’s report contended he did. Lynde expired at almost the same age as his father, who also died from a heart attack. The authors express surprise that Lynde didn’t have a heart attack sooner, what with his transgressive lifestyle. Lynde was heavily into alcohol and also used drugs. He claimed to have quit these habits cold-turkey not long before his death, having been transformed by a personal event that he never revealed.
  • The sign proclaiming Mount Vernon, Ohio, as the birthplace of Paul Lynde was recently changed to read: “Home of Daniel Decatur Emmett, Author of [the song] ‘Dixie.'”
  • Lynde and long-term companion, Bing Davidson were staying at the Drake hotel in San Francisco, California on July 17, 1965. The two went out the next day for a good time and got very drunk. Davidson decided to show Lynde a trick and dangled off the hotel balcony by his fingers. He was slipping and Paul desperately tried to help him in, but Davidson fell to his death. They are buried next to each other in Amity Cemetery in Ohio.
  • Was an accomplished cook.
  • Portrayed Mr. MacAfee in the original Broadway stage version of “Bye Bye Birdie” which opened April 14, 1960, and ran for 607 performances. He reprised the role in the film Bye Bye Birdie (1963).
  • His father’s name was Hoy Lynde, and his mother’s name was Sylvia Bell. He had three brothers: Richard, Cord, and John.
  • One of only a handful of actors to have appeared on both “Magic” television shows Bewitched and I Dream Of Jeannie.
  • Paul had two sisters.

PAUL’S QUOTES:

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  • Upon telling his family he wanted to go into show business: “My dad hit the roof and I hit the road, simultaneously.”
  • I don’t know who the hell Paul Lynde is or why he’s funny, and I prefer it to be a mystery to me. An actor shouldn’t undergo psychoanalysis because there are a lot of things you’re better off not knowing.
  • I have so many friends who were lovers. After they got married, it was over.
  • I’m used to living alone, and I like it that way. You become so selfish living alone…I’d make a terrible husband anyway.
  • I don’t meet enough women outside show business, and I wouldn’t marry anyone in this field. [in 1969]
  • Sometimes, I think you’re better off not being married today. When you see your married friends split up, it’s devastating. Call it scared! Call it an obsession. But I took it for granted I was going to marry a girl I went with for nine years. That is, until I received her wedding invitation. [in 1974]
  • I was in ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ on Broadway – played the father. I was in the film version, but they should have retitled it ‘Hello, Ann-Margret!’ They cut several of my and the other actors’ best scenes and shot new ones for her so she could do her teenage-sex-bombshell act.
  • I had a drag scene in Doris Day’s The Glass Bottom Boat (1966). An elegant gown. Actually, it was more expensive than any of the ones Doris had to wear. That day that I came in fully dressed and coiffed, I was the belle of the set! Everybody went wild! Doris came over and looked me up and down and told me, ‘Oh, I’d never wear anything that feminine.’
  • I always wanted to be Anna May Wong. She seemed so much more exotic and exciting than plain ordinary folk. But no-go. I wasn’t fated to be Wong, just white.
  • [to a traffic cop who had flagged him down for drunk driving] I’ll have a double cheeseburger and a chocolate shake.

(Sources: IMDb & Wikipedia)

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Paul Lynde On Hollywood Squares

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