Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Born Today in 1926, Campy Funny Man Paul Lynde

Paul Lynde was born today, June 13, in 1926, in Mount Vernon, Ohio.  He was an American comedian and actor. A 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 the television comedy Bewitched and the befuddled father Harry MacAfee in the film Bye Bye Birdie

He was usually the regular "center square" panelist on the game show Hollywood Squares from 1968 to 1981 where he was known to deliver outrageous zingers. He was best able to showcase his comedic talents with short, salty one-liners, spoken in his signature sniggering delivery. 

Many gags were thinly veiled allusions to his homosexuality. Asked, "You're the world's most popular fruit. What are you?" Lynde replied, "Humble." 

Asked, "Who's generally better looking, a fairy or a pixie?," he objected, "Looks aren't everything!" and then, after a pause, quipped, "I think I'll take the fairy." 

Other jokes relied on double entendre, an alleged fondness for deviant behaviors, his misogyny, or dealt with touchy subject matter for 1970s television. Examples include:

Q: “What unusual thing do you do if you have something called 'the gift of tongues'?”
 Lynde: “I wouldn’t tell the grand jury. Why should I tell you?”

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!"

Lynde garnered considerable fame and wealth from the series, appearing a total of 707 times.

Lynde also voiced three Hanna-Barbera productions; he was Templeton the gluttonous rat in Charlotte's Web, neighbor Claude Pertwee on Where's Huddles? and the Hooded Claw in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.

Lynde's private life and sexual orientation were not directly acknowledged or discussed on television or in other media during his lifetime.

In a 2013 radio interview, Dick Van Dyke recalled the wrap party for Bye Bye Birdie in 1962. A series of men gave short speeches, each one praising Ann-Margret and predicting success and stardom for the young actress. When it was Lynde's turn to speak, he began, "Well, I guess I'm the only one here who doesn’t want to fuck Ann-Margret."

On the May 9, 2016 episode of Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast, Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall told host Gilbert Gottfried a story that Wally Cox witnessed Lynde in the backstage dressing room for The Golddiggers dance team, and that Lynde said, “This place smells like pussy... I think.”

Despite his campy and flamboyant television persona, Lynde never publicly came out as gay and the media refrained from commenting about it. In 1976, a People magazine article on Lynde included text about Stan Finesmith; the latter was described as Lynde's "suite mate" and “chauffeur-bodyguard.” The magazine did not include a photograph of Finesmith. During Lynde's lifetime, this was as close as the media came to hinting at his sexuality.

Lynde died of a heart attack on January 11, 1982, at age 55.


Sooo-this-is-me said...

Full speed ahead.. bahahaha!!! Uncle Arthur, I loved him. I think just about everyone on Bewitched was gay, must have been something in the water! Lol

Deedles said...

Looking back, it is truly amazing what that man was able to get away with saying on t.v.! I adored Paul Lynde.

granitoons said...

You miscounted! Paul was also the voice of the wolf in the "It's The Wolf!" segments of the Cattanooga Cats, (also Hanna-Barbera).