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.”