Paul Edward Lynde (June 13, 1926–January 10, 1982)[3][4] was an American comedian and actor. A noted character actor, Lynde was well known for his roles as Uncle Arthur on Bewitched and Harry McAfee, the befuddled father in Bye Bye Birdie. He was also the regular "center square" guest on the game show Hollywood Squares from 1968 to 1981.

Life and career

Early years

Paul Lynde was born in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and studied drama at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where his fellow students included Cloris Leachman, Charlotte Rae, Patricia Neal, Jeffrey Hunter and Claude Akins. At Northwestern, he joined the Upsilon chapter of Phi Kappa Sigma and is listed amongst the most famous members of the fraternity. He graduated in 1948 and moved to New York City, where he initially worked as a stand-up comic.[5]


Lynde made his Broadway debut in the hit revue New Faces of 1952 in which he co-starred with fellow newcomers Eartha Kitt, Alice Ghostley, and Carol Lawrence.[6] In 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.[7] The show was filmed and released as New Faces in 1954.

After the revue's run, Lynde co-starred in the short-lived sitcom Stanley opposite Buddy Hackett and Carol Burnett, both of whom were also starting out their careers in show business. In 1960, Lynde returned to Broadway when he was cast as the father in Bye Bye Birdie. He reprised the role in the play's film adaptation, which was released in 1963 and co-starred Dick Van Dyke, Janet Leigh, and Ann-Margret.

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. Lynde 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 a frequent guest on the Donny and Marie Osmond Show.

Lynde also did extensive voice work on animated cartoons, particularly those of Hanna-Barbera Productions. His most notable roles included Sylvester Sneakly ("The Hooded Claw") in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, Mildew Wolf from It's the Wolf (a segment of Cattanooga Cats), and Pertwee from Where's Huddles?. He also voiced the role of Templeton the gluttonous rat in the animated feature Charlotte's Web. Lynde's sardonic inflections added a dimension to such lines as the sly, drawn-out whine, "What's in it for meeee?" Lynde's trademark voice is popular among impressionists. In the 1999 animated Queer Duck the character Bi-Polar Bear (voiced by Billy West) speaks with an imitation of Lynde's voice. Although it is sometimes assumed that actress Alice Ghostley based her speech patterns and mannerisms on Lynde's, according to actress Kaye Ballard "it was Paul who was influenced by Alice".[8]

In 1972, Lynde starred in the short-lived ABC sitcom, The Paul Lynde Show, playing an uptight attorney and father at odds with his liberal-minded son-in-law. The series was canceled after only one season. The network then "transferred" Lynde to another comedy series that had debuted in 1972, Temperatures Rising, for the 1973 season, but his presence in the cast did not help flagging ratings and this series, too, was not renewed. The series’ failure reportedly exacerbated Lynde’s drinking problem, which led to numerous run-ins with the law and frequent arrests for public intoxication.[5]

In 1978, Lynde guest starred as a weatherman for WSPD-TV in Toledo, Ohio.

Hollywood Squares

In 1966, Lynde debuted on the fledgling game show Hollywood Squares and quickly became its iconic guest. 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 producers discretion. Many NBC tour guides claimed Lynde was afraid of earthquakes and the center square proved to be the safest sqare. However, the A&E Biography on Lynde told an anecdote of an earthquake in the Hollywood Squares studio, where many guests becoming upset. Lynde, however, remained in his seat, tapping his fingers, asking if they were going to finish the show.

It was on Hollywood Squares that Lynde was best able to showcase his comedic talents with short, salty one-liners.[5] 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." In response to the question "How many men on a hockey team?" Lynde quipped, "About half."

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

Q: What is said to be wasted on the young?
Lynde: A whipping.
Q: Paul, what profession is the most common for prostitutes after they retire?
Lynde: Smuggling.
Q: How do you mount a fly?
Lynde: With a teensy-weensy step ladder.

The show made a habit of asking Lynde about fairy tales and children's stories, making Lynde's punchlines all the more inappropriate. On one episode, Lynde humorously suggested that the Lewis Carroll character Alice was the one to say "I'm late! I'm late!" rather than the White Rabbit, "...and her mother is just sick about it." On another, Lynde claimed that, in The Wizard of Oz, what the Scarecrow really wanted was for the Tin Man to notice him.

Even the more generic punchlines were often punched up by Lynde's trademark snickering delivery. Asked "What is the most abused and neglected part of the body?" Lynde said, "Well, mine may be abused, but it certainly isn't neglected."

One of the longest sustained laughs Lynde ever received for a quip on "Hollywood Squares" was in response to the question:

Q: How does a woman keep her bosom from sagging?
Lynde: Pierced Ears and two pieces of string.

Lynde left the show in 1979 after thirteen seasons, but returned for the 1980–81 season.

Personal life

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[1] and fell eight stories, an event witnessed by two policemen.[9] Even though the scandal did not ruin his career, the incident offered insight into the precarious life of drinking and partying that Lynde enjoyed.[10]


Lynde was found dead in his Beverly Hills, California, home by friend Paul Barresi on Monday, January 11, 1982.[11] The coroner ruled the death a heart attack. It has been suggested that he might have been dead for two days, but his death appears in most references as having occurred on January 10, 1982.

Lynde's cremated remains are interred at Amity Cemetery, in Amity, Ohio where he is buried next to his brother Johnny, and sister Helen. It has also been reported that Lynde lies near ill-fated sweetheart James "Bing" Davidson at the cemetery, but this has been disputed.[1][12]


Paul Lynde's popularity has continued after his death. According to cartoon creator/voice actor Seth McFarlane, the voice of Roger the Alien on the Fox television show American Dad! was modelled after him.[13] The voice and humor of Queer Duck character Bi-Polar Bear (voiced by Ren & Stimpy and Futurama actor Billy West), is also done in the style of Paul Lynde. Steve Carell reprised Lynde's role as "Uncle Arthur" in the 2005 film Bewitched, very much in Lynde's style. The voice and humor of William A. Mummy on the new GSN game show Late Night Liars is performed in the vein of Paul Lynde as well.

Actor/Comedian Michael Airington also plays Paul Lynde in the show Oh My Goodness it's Paul Lynde. He plays him in An Evening with Paul Lynde recreating Lynde's 1976 live show and in Off Center: The Paul Lynde Show.[14] Airington licenses the rights from the Paul Lynde Estate.[15]





  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Bing Davidson Biography". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  2. "Paul Lynde Biography". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  3. Paul E. Lynde, age 3-9/12 years. U.S. Census, 1 April 1930, State of Ohio, County of Knox, enumeration district 9, p. 7A, family 202.
  4. Paul Edward Lynde, born 13 June 1926, died 11 January 1982. California Death Index, 1940–1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2000.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Paul Lynde Biography (1926–1982)". Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  6. "Paul Lynde". What A Character!. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  7. Vincent Canby (21 June 1998). "A Lost Theatrical Form Returns With a Smile". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  8. Dennis McLellan (22 September 2007). "'Bewitched's' Esmeralda Dies at 81". The Los Angeles Times. 
  9. "Rotten Library: Paul Lynde". 2006. Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  10. "Bewitched Beography: Paul Lynde". Bewitched Beography. 2003. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  11. Rush & Molloy (1 September 2005). Lynde bio squarely denies he OD'd. New York Daily News
  12. "James Bing Davidson". 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-11. 
  13. Paul Lynde Biography The Jacksonville Confidential Dec 07, 2006
  14. "An Evening with Paul Lynde - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes -". Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  15. "Paul Lynde play at Exit Theatre gets pulled over copyright claim | Culture Monster | Los Angeles Times". 2009-02-28. Retrieved 2009-10-29. 

External links

  1. REDIRECT Template:IMDb name

ro:Paul Lynde

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