Happy Birthday To Paul Lynde, History’s Greatest Monster

Television’s most oozing, sneering, whining caricature turns 86 today, or at least he would have if he hadn’t died in 1982, reportedly clutching a bottle of amyl nitrate.

Possessed of a quick wit on-camera and seething rage behind the scenes, Paul inhabited roles that ranged from “emasculated sniveler” to “flop-sweating gimmick,” and occasionally “mincing pervert.”

He also played a garbage-dwelling rat who gorges himself on food and alcohol to the point of near-catatonia. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” Charlotte the spider tells his character.

The “Paul Lynde Halloween Special” is possibly his most watchable endeavor, by virtue of  the incomprehensible coupling of Pinky Tuscadero, Margaret Hamilton, Florence Henderson, Betty White, and KISS. His association with Donnie and Marie is nearly as hypnotic.

“He just wanted to get out of here,” Donny recalls. “He hated it.”

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  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    “The “Paul Lynde Halloween Special” is possibly his most watchable endeavor…”

    Not sure what you think makes something more watchable than something else, but, when it comes to Paul Lynde, you completely neglect his recurring role on Bewitched and his amazing repartee as the longtime Center Square on Hollywood Squares.

    Lastly, history’s greatest monster? Really? You need to get out a bit more, read a bit more, and watch more movies, Benji, cause, damn man, in the real world there is Jack the Ripper, the Boston Strangler, Charles Manson, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Stalin and Hilter, of course, and unfortunately too many more. In the world of fiction, I find Jabba the Hut, Hannibal Lecture, the alien from Alien/Aliens far more monstrous than the musical-cartoon mouse character Lynde plays in Charlotte’s Web.

  • One of the CA 36000

    Paul Lynde as “history’s greatest monster”?!?

    B!tch, PLEASE.

    And we’re going to just let you blithely ignore all those horrible Kardashians…?!?!?

  • Scott

    While a child in the ’60s, long before I knew what “gay” meant, I loved Paul Lynde’s humor! My grandmother hated him but she knew he was gay and she was a HUGE bigot! She assumed that because I liked his brand of humor I must be gay too.

  • Prof Sancho Panza

    He was apparently not the happiest man in his private life, but he was very funny. And, as far as his range went, don’t forget that he very successfully “played straight” both on Broadway and then on film as Harry MacAfee, the father in Bye Bye Birdie. His song “Kids” is a classic.

  • GreatGatsby2011

    Not Uncle Arthur…. *clutches pearls dramatically*
    Sounds like he may have been suffering from bipolar disorder and tried to self-medicate. :-(
    It’s sad that I was unaware for so long that the actor behind one of my favorite characters suffered so.

    I hope you found peace after your passing, Paul.

  • um ya

    Fuck you.

    Paul Lynde is awesome. When I was little I watched him on Bewitched and Hollywood Squares. I didn’t know I was gay yet, and I didn’t get his humor, but I knew I wanted to be in on the joke.

  • David

    This is really quite mean-spirited and it just speaks to the unhealthy obsession that all of us gays have with appearing to be as straight-acting as possible.

  • Jonathan

    I grew up watching Bewitched and adored Uncle Arthur just as I adored Lynde as the acerbic center square. He was hardly a monster.

  • Eric in Chicago

    Wow what a nasty article for a talented man. He was HILARIOUS and anyone who has seen his clips from Hollywood Squares knows that. He also was great in BYE BYE BIRDIE. The fact that he was only in 11 episodes of Bewitched but is remembered as a main cast member shows how popular his appearances were. Geez! Give a talented gay man a break. Not every gay man is masculine by the way. What idiot wrote this?

  • Olive Austin

    He actually had two roles on Bewitched. In the first season he played a nervous driving instructor teaching newly-suburban (and grounded) Samantha how to drive.

    Then this happened (per Wikipedia):

    “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.”

    After that he was cast as a recurring character (Uncle Arthur) on Bewitched. I’ve always assumed super-gay-friendly Elizabeth Montgomery and/or William Asher (Montgomery’s husband and Bewitched producer) or someone else at Screen Gems gave him Uncle Arthur because of that tragedy.

    Loved him! Although “The Paul Lynde Show” (search YouTube) was awful.

  • Charlie

    I was honestly trying to think of a time when he played a monster. Unless we count Templeton I can’t think of one.

    I love that Roger on American Dad is basically an homage to Paul Lynde.

  • David Del Valle

    This is all very interesting since I am about to write about my three brief encounters with Paul and these can be found very soon over at westhollywoodwives…Paul was a fantastic performer who simply could not hold his booze period….all his problems stemmed from this and there are many still around who remember him this way.

  • Carlos

    WTF queerty, Paul Lynde isn’t “History’s greatest monster”. I also agree that you’re completely ignoring how he was on Bewitched or on Hollywood squares.

  • Adam

    JC this article is offensive. I’d like to write it off to haste under managerial deadlines, but the word “monster” describing someone who epitomizes the subversive genius of queer culture should give your site a major identity crisis. At best you guys need to reflect a little on your responsibility as a queer website, at worst you are self hating.

  • I won't grow up

    Mr Lynde was a brilliant comic an a terrific wit. But in person he was a completeand total bitch, I ran into him a few times while vacationing in P-town during the ’70’s. He was NOT a nice person and berated any one that came near him.
    That did not change the fact he was great comic actor and a pioneering (if stereotypical) gay “uncle”.

  • Will L

    In the 60’s, he was one of the few mincing characters on television. He let us know that we weren’t “the only one like this.” Just how old are you, Mr. Douglas? Only a total ass wipe would be so devoid of compassion. This article is disturbing.

  • tookietookie

    @um ya: Best comment, ever.

  • Kev C

    Paul was proof that people are unique and special snowflakes.

  • jason

    Paul Lynde was an American classic. There’ll never be another like him.

  • Aaron

    Wow, this writer has some serious internalized homophobia issues.
    I guess he prefers the straight acting, closet case actors from that period. Sorry, but Paul Lynde was out before people knew the term “out”. And while calling him a monster was an attempt at being clever, it just shows that the oozing, sneering, whining caricatures in gay culture are still around.

  • brad

    I always got the impression he was an unhappy douche. But a talented one.

  • PeeJ

    Ummmm hello? Amazing that nearly everyone misses the joke. “History’s Greatest Monster” Is satire people, for feck sake.

  • Timmeeeyyy!!!

    I met Paul Lynde once when I was a child in the late 70s/early 80s. He was in the traveling Broadway show Bells Are Ringing. After the show, about a dozen of us kids waited until he came out from backstage. He was very gracious, signed autographs for all of us and let us play with his two standard poodles. I still have the autograph.

    Lynde’s persona was a character architype of the time, the quick-witted sissy. Other actors did it was well, Charles Nelson Riley and Alan Sues immediately come to mind, but Lynde arguably did it best!

  • The Real Mike in Asheville


    From OED, Satire:

    the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

    PeeJ, if you are correct that Benji (the poster) is using “satire” then neither of you understand what satire is and how to use it. Undeniably, satire is as old as Socrates as Plato includes many examples in his plays about the teachings of Socrates. The refinement and traditional use as used today comes from Cicero and later Quintilian the 100bc-100ad Roman philosophers.

    The failures: it’s not funny, there is no irony, and the exaggeration and ridicule are related to Lynde when the devise is used to expose the readers’ lack of intelligence.

    This Berkeley Rhetoric alum certainly did not recognize ANY satire in this post. Clearly, the post did not come across as intended; but it is so poorly written the post is unintelligible.

  • Karl

    A nasty and bigoted article…why pick on this fabulous man?
    Paul Lynde was an incredible performer. Growing up, I remember him well. his ascerbic comments were part of his true nature but who cares he was a great laugh.
    Fondly remembered with affection from ‘Bewitched’.

  • Sean

    Yet another example of how this increasingly pathetic site is written by assholes. I’m not sure why I bother, but I don’t think I will anymore.

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