Tag Archives: Paul Lynde

PRIDE: Gay History – June 13, 1926: Happy Birthday Paul Lynde – His Funny and Not-So-Funny Life

JUNE 13, 1926

Comedian Paul Lynde is born. Lynde best known for his roles as Uncle Arthur on Bewitched and Harry MacAfee, the befuddled father in Bye Bye Birdie both on Broadway and in the hit movie version. His quick gay wit and sarcasm made him a television star unlike no other.

Lynn born in Mt. Vernon, Ohio on June 13, 1926 despite his initial efforts to be taken seriously as an actor, Lynde realized early on that his exaggerated vocal inflections and stinging way of delivering a line got him easy laughs, so he accepted comedy as his future and made his Broadway debut in the hit revue New Faces of 1952 in which he co-starred with fellow newcomers Eartha Kitt, Robert Clary, Alice Ghostley, and Carol Lawrence. 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 their careers in show business. 

Lynde returned to Broadway in 1960 when he was cast as Harry MacAfee, the father in Bye Bye Birdie. he was a huge hit and re-created the role when the musical was turned into a movie starring Ann Margeret. 

Lynde was in great demand in the 1960s. During the 1961-62 television season he was a regular on NBC’s The Perry Como Show as part of the Kraft Music Hall players with Don Adams, Kaye Ballard and Sandy Stewart. He was a familiar face on many sitcoms, including The Phil Silvers ShowThe Patty Duke ShowThe MunstersThe Flying NunGidgetI Dream of JeannieF Troop, and variety shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show and The Dean Martin Show. He also was featured in a number of 1960s films, including Send Me No Flowers and The Glass Bottom Boat, both starring Doris Day.

Paul Lynde will always be best known sitcom role was on Bewitched, where he made his debut appearance in the first-season episode “Driving Is the Only Way to Fly.” His role as Samantha Stephens’ nervous driving instructor Harold Harold was so well received by viewers, as well as series star Elizabeth Montgomery and her husband, director/producer William Asher, with whom Lynde became good friends. Asher then created the recurring role of Endora’s practical-joking brother Uncle Arthur.

Then 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 producer’s’ 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.

On Hollywood Squares 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 how many men are on a hockey team, Lynde said, “Oh, about half.” 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. 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: “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!”

But despite his campy (and obviously gay) television persona, Lynde never publicly came out as being gay and the press generally went along with the deception. In a People magazine article the magazine featured Lynde and Stan Finesmith who was dubbed Lynde’s “suite mate” and “chauffeur-bodyguard.” Lynde also struggled with alcoholism HS host  Peter Marshall and Lynde’s longtime friend Kaye Ballard confirmed when inebriated, was quite cruel and would sometimes ridicule his friends.

And then there was his run-ins with the law. He had been arrested a few times for drunk driving and, while under the influence of alcohol

Earlier in In July of 1965, Lynde was involved in an incident in which a “friend”, 24-year-old James “Bing” Davidson, accidentally 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 and “horsing around”, when Bing slipped and fell eight stories.

In 1977, Lynde was involved in an incident at his alma mater, Northwestern University (NU), when he was the Grand Marshal for homecoming. At a fast food restaurant after the homecoming parade, he made racist remarks and gestures to African-American NU professor James Pitts. Lynde later blamed his behavior on fatigue and alcohol.

But in 1978, though Paul Lynde’s an incident occured that permanently damaged  Paul Lynde’s career after he was arrested for public intoxication outside of The Sun Tavern, a gay bar in Salt Lake City.  As a result he lost his guest starring role on The Donny and Marie Show and acting jobs became harder and 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.

Paul Lynde finally became sober and drug free in the early 1980’s, shortly before his death.

Paul Lynde was found dead of a heart attack in his Beverly Hills home by his friend and ex-porn star, male escort, and now turned Private Detective Paul Barresi..  His remains were cremated and are interred at Amity Cemetery, in Amity, Knox County, Ohio with his family.

 

Gay History Month – October 24: Cole Porter, Paul Lynde and TIME Magazine’s 1969 Article “The Homosexual in America.”

Time Homosexuals in America

Today In Gay History: October 24th.

44 B.C.:  Marcus Tullius Cicero; Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul and constitutionalist when talking about his relationship with Mark Antony when he was younger, insinuated that he ‘established him (Mark Antony) in a fixed and stable marriage, as if he had given you a stola.’  A stola is the traditional garment of a married Roman woman. ‘Although Cicero’s sexual implications are clear, the point of the passage is to cast Anthony in the submissive role in the relationship and to impugn his manhood in various ways.  Please don’t tell Cleo. 

1926: The New York Times prints a book review of Dr. Joseph Collins’ The Doctor Looks at Love and Life.” Dr. Collins countered the claim that homosexual love is pathological and that homosexuals are psychopaths or neurotic, saying that he knew many well-balanced homosexuals of both sexes who have distinguished themselves in various fields from arms to the pulpit. He also stated that “Genuine homosexuality is not a vice, it is an endowment.”

1937: Legendary composer and songwriter Cole Porter’s legs are crushed when the horse he was riding while out in the Hamptons falls on top of him.

1966: Paul Lynde makes his first appearance on the game show Hollywood Squares and it becomes the gayest show on television without knowing it.  Or maybe they did.!

 1969 : Just a mere 4 months after the riots at the Stonewall Inn  TIME Magazine’s weekly cover story is “The Homosexual in America.”

It was not kind.

The article stated:

Homosexuals are present in every walk of life, on any social level, often anxiously camouflaged; the camouflage will sometimes even include a wife and children, and psychoanalysts are busy treating wives who have suddenly discovered a husband’s homosexuality. But increasingly, deviates are out in the open, particularly in fashion and the arts. Women and homosexual men work together designing, marketing, retailing, and wrapping it all up in the fashion magazines. The interior decorator and the stockbroker’s wife conspire over curtains. And the symbiosis is not limited to working hours. For many a woman with a busy or absent husband, the presentable homosexual is in demand as an escort –witty, pretty, catty, and no problem to keep at arm’s length. Rich dowagers often have a permanent traveling court of charming international types who exert influence over what pictures and houses their patronesses buy, what decorators they use, and where they spend which season.

The once widespread view that homosexuality is caused by heredity, or by some derangement of hormones, has been generally discarded. The consensus is that it is caused psychically, through a disabling fear of the opposite sex. The origins of this fear lie in the homosexual’s parents. The mother–either domineering and contemptuous of the father, or feeling rejected by him–makes her son a substitute for her husband, with a close-binding, overprotective relationship. Thus, she unconsciously demasculinizes him. If at the same time the father is weakly submissive to his wife or aloof and unconsciously competitive with his son, he reinforces the process. To attain normal sexual development, according to current psychoanalytic theory, a boy should be able to identify with his father’s masculine role.

Lack of procreation or of marriage vows is not the issue; even Roman Catholic authorities hold that an illicit hetero sexual affair has a degree of “authentication,” while a homosexual relationship involves only “negation.” Roman Catholic thought generally agrees that homosexuality is of and in itself wrong because, as New York’s Msgr. Thomas McGovern says, it is “inordinate, having no direction toward a proper aim.” Even in purely nonreligious terms, homosexuality represents a misuse of the sexual faculty and, in the words of one Catholic educator, of “human construction.

Even in purely nonreligious terms, homosexuality represents a misuse of the sexual faculty and, in the words of one Catholic educator, of “human construction.” It is a pathetic little second-rate substitute for reality, a pitiable flight from life. As such it deserves fairness, compassion, understanding and, when possible, treatment. But it deserves no encouragement, no glamorization, no rationalization, no fake status as minority martyrdom, no sophistry about simple differences in taste—and, above all, no pretense that it is anything but a pernicious sickness.

Ten years later Time would publish another gay-themed cover story, this one titled “How Gay is Gay”, which offered a  more positive and accurate portrayal.

1978: Diana Ross stars as Dorothy in the movie version of The Wiz, which opens in theaters. It’s not nearly successful as the Broadway musical.

1981: The first National Conference on Lesbian and Gay Aging took place in California. Sponsored by the National Association For Gay and Lesbian Gerontology, it sought to “dispel myths about older lesbians and gay men, advance research, establish programs and services for lesbian and gay elders, and encourage and provide support for lesbian and gay gerontologists.”

1987: Elizabeth Kirby Lewallen was named the new president of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays at the organization’s Sixth International convention in Washington DC.

1992: Thirty-five religious leaders in northwest Vermont joined to condemn two acts of hate-motivated violence, one anti-gay and one anti-Semitic.

Happy HOMOween! – WATCH: “The Paul Lynde Halloween Special!” (1976) – FULL Video

Tune Out The Rocky Horror Remake and WATCH

Yes all my ghosties and ghoulies and long legged beasties and things that go bump in the night its time once again for Back2Stonewall.com’s annual viewing of The Paul Lynde Halloween Special!

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special was  broadcast October 29th, 1976 on ABC.  It featured guest star Margaret Hamilton in her first and only reprisal of her role as The Wicked Witch of the West and guest starred Billie Hayes as Witchiepoo from H.R. Pufnstuf, Tim Conway, Roz (Pinky Toscadaro) Kelly, Florence Henderson,the rock band KISS, Billy Barty, and yes even Betty White! PLUS an un-billed surprise appearance by Donny and Marie Osmond! (And believe me there is nothing scarier than Mormons on Halloween!.)

So lets do the REAL time warp and travel back to 1976 and join the gay legendary comedic actor Paul Lynde as he makes everyone Halloween just a little bit homo before it got trendy. 

Billy Eichner To Play Paul Lynde In Upcoming Biopic ‘Man In The Box’

Billy Eichner To Play Paul Lynde In Upcoming Biopic ‘Man In The Box’

Gay actor-comedian Billy Eichner is set to play TV icon Paul Lynde in the upcoming biopic Man in the Box,

Eichner and producer Tom McNulty have optioned a script by Edwin Cannistraci on Lynde life. While Lynde never officially “out,” his sexuality was well-known in front of and behind the camera throughout a run on television beginning in the ’50s up until his death in 1982.

Said Eichner in Deadline:

One of the main reasons I want to do this is…because gay actors are never, hardly ever, I should say, allowed to play our own gay icons. Harvey Milk, Freddie Mercury, Elton John. Where are the gay actors? When it really comes to some big project about a gay icon, the one everyone’s throwing awards at…we love the spectacle of rewarding a straight actor, for quote unquote, transforming himself into a gay person.”

Eichner also talked about the very real consequences for actors coming out and how they are often career-ending:

When someone comes out of the closet, we celebrate them. We applaud them. We put them on the cover of magazines. We say, thank you for living your truth, and thank you for being brave, and you’re such a role model for our gay kids. And then instantly, that actor gets taken off so many casting lists in the business,” he said. “This is exactly what happened to Paul, and it’s still happening today, which I can tell you from my own career, having lived it on the day to day, for almost 20 years now.”

In addition to “Man in the Box” Billy will also be writing and starring in an upcoming gay romantic comedy from Judd Apatow’s production company for Universal Pictures. The untitled project will be the first major studio movie with a gay lead since last year’s “Love, Simon,”

A BIG CONGRATULATIONS to Billy Eichner on his much needed upcoming gay themed projects! Also Billy if you are reading this and need a gay historian for research on the Paul Lynde project I am available.

I’ll be waiting to be called on in the center square.

Pioneering Gay Television News Anchor Randy Price Retires and Signs Off After 38 Years

Pioneering Gay Television News Anchor Randy Price Retires and Signs Off After 40+ Years

Randy Price, considered the nation’s first openly gay news anchor, signed off for the final time Wednesday after 42 years in the business.

For 38 years, New Englanders have trusted me and my colleagues to bring them the important news and information of the day. I thank you for that trust and inviting me into your home. But, beyond that, I want to thank so many people for letting me be a part of your life, in causes that are important to you. 

To the pioneers of the LGBT movement: thank you for wanting me to be part of something that would forever change the opportunities for millions of people across this country .”

 Price came out inadvertently in the early 1990s during an interview with a newspaper reporter. 

There probably were other people who were gay [in TV news at the time]. The difference is I was the first person where it was highly publicized. I remember getting letters like: ‘I don’t agree with you, but I’ve seen you for a long time, and I like you. 

Randy Price has worked as an anchor at all of the major network affiliates and the country and in Boston since moving to the city in 1983. He’s received the Edward R. Murrow Award for best newscast in a large television market — and been named “Boston’s Best News Anchor” by Boston Magazine.

Below watch Randy’s finals good-bye to his Boston co-anchors and friends and very rare and hysterical clip of Paul Lynde visiting WSPD, Ch. 13, In Toledo, OH in 1978 where he did a guest weather forecast with a very young Randy Price early in his career.

Today in Gay – Happy Birthday Uncle Arthur!: Actor Paul Lynde Would Be 91 Today

Paul Lynde who was best known for his roles as Uncle Arthur on Bewitched and Harry MacAfee, the befuddled father in Bye Bye Birdie would have been 91 years old today. Lynde, a noted character actor with a distinctively campy and snarky persona that often poked fun at his barely-in the closet homosexuality

Lynde made his Broadway debut in the hit revue New Faces of 1952 had a prestigious career on both Broardway and in television. 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.  Then came Lynde’s 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 and the game show The Hollywood Squares.

But despite his remarkable career Paul Lynde’s personal life was far from happy.

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 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 to his death, 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 being gay and the press generally went along with the deception. In a People magazine article the magazine featured Lynde and Stan Finesmith who was dubbed Lynde’s “suite mate” and “chauffeur-bodyguard.”

In 1978, Lynde career took a downturn after he was arrested outside of a gay bar in Salt Lake City. As a result of the arrest, he lost his guest starring role on The Donny and Marie Show and 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 the early 1980s, shortly before his death.

Paul Lynde was found dead in his Beverly Hills, California, home by friend Paul Barresi on Monday, January 11, 1982.

May he find the peace and acceptance in death that he was never able to find in life.

Happy Birthday Uncle Arthur.

* Watch this rare and hysterical clip below of Paul Lynde visiting WSPD, Ch. 13, In Toledo, OH in 1978 where he does a guest weather forecast with the (now) openly gay Boston anchor man Randy Price.