Paul Lynde is known for being a great comic, a memorable character actor, and a well-known voice artist, among other things. He was one of the most endearing actors of his generation, and audiences yearned to see him on screen. While his role as ‘Uncle Arthur’ in both the television and film adaptations of ‘Bewitched’ established him as a celebrity, it was in ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ and the character of Harry MacAfee that he truly demonstrated his range and talent. As he perfectly played his role at the center square on the game program ‘Hollywood Squares,’ this abled actor and comedian scored additional brownie points to his ever-expanding career graph. However, when none of his series seemed to work, the ever-rising graph collapsed to an all-time low. To make matters worse, his main show, ‘The Paul Lynde Show,’ failed to connect with the public and was cancelled after only one season. If his professional life was deteriorating, his personal life was deteriorating as well, as he fought substance misuse, LGBT difficulties, and alcohol problems on a daily basis. Continue reading to learn more about his life and career.
Childhood and Adolescence
Paul Lynde was born in Mount Vernon, Ohio, to Hoy Coradon and Sylvia Bell Lynde. After completing his secondary studies at Mount Vernin High School, he went on to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, to study acting.
He was a member of the Upsilon chapter of Phi Kappa Sigma at the university and is still listed as its most famous personality. After graduating from college in 1948, he moved to New York City and began working as a stand-up comedian.
Career of Paul
With co-stars Eartha Kitt, Charlotte Rae, Cloris Leachman, Alice Ghostley, and Carol Lawrence, he made his Broadway debut in the successful revue New Faces. In it, he played a crutch-wielding guy describing his misadventures on an African safari with his late wife. The show was first broadcast in 1954. Following the popularity of the revue, he was placed opposite Buddy Hackett and Carol Brunett in the 1956 short-lived sitcom “Stanley.” He also appeared on NBC’s ‘The Martha Raye Show’ as a guest star. In 1960, he returned to Broadway with the play ‘Bye Bye Birdie.’ He portrayed Harry MacAfee, the star-struck teen’s father, in the film. He returned to the character of MacAfee three years later in the film adaptation of the same name, thanks to the success of the play.
He recorded a live album, ‘Recently Released,’ which was released as an LP record in 1963. Interestingly, he wrote all six tracks himself, a feat he would not repeat until his time on Hollywood Squares. As a result of the box office success of ‘Bye Bye Birdie,’ he was cast in supporting roles in a number of subsequent films, including ‘Under the Yum Yum Tree,’ ‘Beach Blanket Bingo,’ and ‘The Glass Bottom Boat.’ He also appeared in sitcoms such as ‘The Phil Silvers Show,’ ‘The Munsters,’ ‘The Flying Nun,’ ‘Gidget,’ ‘I Dream of Jeannie,’ and variety shows such as ‘The Perry Como Show,’ and ‘The Dean Martin Show,’ in addition to films.
While his minor performances in sitcoms were well received, it was his portrayal as a frightened driving instructor Harold Harold to Samantha Stephen’s in the first season episode ‘Driving is the Only Way to Fly’ on the wildly popular series ‘Bewitched’ that garnered him a lot of attention. The love, admiration, and adoration he earned for his portrayal of ‘Harold Harold’ encouraged him to make ten additional appearances in the series, each one as majestic and warmly embraced as the first. He provided voice work for animated cartoons, most notably for Hanna Barbara Productions, in addition to appearing on variety shows and playing numerous characters in television series.
‘The Hooded Claw in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop,’ ‘Mildew Wolf from It’s the Wolf,’ and ‘Pertwee from Where’s Huddles?’ are some of his voice roles. In addition, he provided the voice of Templeton the gluttonous rat in the animated film ‘Charlotte’s Web.’ His renowned 15-year affiliation with the game program Hollywood Squares began in 1966, and he quickly established himself as the show’s iconic star. His location in the center square meant that every contestant would have to summon him at least once during each round.
The game program Hollywood Squares gave him the perfect opportunity to show off his humorous abilities. He loaded it with witty one-liners and snarky remarks, all delivered in his trademark sniggering style. While some jokes alluded to his homosexuality, the most of them were double entendre. He appeared in the game series a total of 707 times, receiving both cash and recognition as a result. He starred in the ABC sitcom ‘The Paul Lynde Show’ in 1972, in which he played a nervous attorney and a parent at odds with his liberal-minded son-in-law. Despite the fact that the series was short-lived and only existed to fill the void left by Bewitched’s aborted ninth season, it was favorably received.
‘The Paul Lynde Show’ was believed to be similar to ‘All in the Family,’ but with a twist: it had a better write-up and sexual undertones than the latter, giving it a little more spice. Following a series of media stories and fan response that praised the series ‘Temperature Rising’ and Paul Lynde of ‘The Paul Lynde Show,’ they merged the best of both worlds to create a redesigned show, ‘The New Temperature Rising,’ starring Paul Lynde for the 1973-74 season.
‘The New Temperature Rising,’ on the other hand, was not well welcomed by the public, and it was discontinued in the middle of the season just weeks after its launch. The show was renewed, but with little success, and was finally replaced by ABC’s ‘Happy Days,’ another another sitcom.
While ‘The Paul Lynde Show’ and ‘The New Temperature Rising’ were mistakenly marked, his other shows at the time, such as ‘Howie,’ ‘Two’s Company,’ ‘Sedgewick Hawk Styles: Prince of Danger,’ and ‘Manley and the Mob,’ did not fare as well. ‘The Paul Lynde Comedy Hour,’ ‘The Paul Lynde Halloween Special,’ ‘T’was the Night Before Christmas,’ ‘Paul Lynde at the Movies,’ and ‘Paul Lynde Goes M-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A- Aside from that, he was a regular on the Donny & Marie variety show.
Due to anti-gay prejudice, as well as his substance addiction and alcoholism issues, he was unable to find work in his later years. As a result, he seized every opportunity that presented itself. He played Indian chief Nervous Elk alongside Ann-Margret in the comedy ‘The Villain,’ which was also his final film, as a guest weatherman for WSPD-TV in Toledo. At the same time, he ended his 15-year relationship with the game show “Hollywood Squares.” In the 1980s, this comedian’s life took a new turn when he became sober, resenting his drug-addled and alcoholic past. With co-star and host Peter Marshall, he returned to the screen in ‘Hollywood Squares.’ The show lasted until February 1981, when it was cancelled.
Achievements & Awards
For ‘The Paul Lynde Show,’ he was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor.
He was named the funniest man of the year in 1976, earning him an Entertainer of the Year award.
Personal History and Legacy
To everyone’s amazement, his sexual preferences and orientation were a well-kept secret. Despite the fact that he was never publicly stated or recognised as gay, it is widely assumed that he was. When his partner, James ‘Bing’ Davidson, fell eight stories from the window of their hotel room in 1965, he was involved in an accident. When the unfortunate event occurred, the two were apparently drinking. He died on January 10, 1982, at the age of 55, as a result of a major heart attack brought on by years of substance misuse. An autopsy revealed that he had the heart of an 88-year-old man. In 2005, a biography titled ‘Center Square: The Paul Lynde Story’ was published posthumously. In the same year, Steve Carell repeated his part as ‘Uncle Arthur’ in the 2005 film ‘Bewitched,’ which was extremely similar to Lynde’s.
Estimated Net Worth
Paul Lynde’s net worth: At the time of his death, Paul Lynde was an American comedian, voice artist, actor, and game show panelist with a net worth of $7 million. Paul Lynde was born in June 1926 in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and died in January 1982. He was a Broadway star and had a recurring part on the TV show Bewitched.
This stand-up comedian is best remembered for his 15 years of work on the embryonic game program Hollywood Squares.