Paul Lynde

Active - 1954 - 2007  |   Born - Jun 13, 1926 in Mount Vernon, Ohio, United States  |   Died - Jan 10, 1982   |   Genres - Comedy

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Biting, sarcastic comic actor Paul Lynde made his Broadway debut in Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1952, which was transferred to film virtually intact in 1953. Far heavier than most of his fans remember him (he tipped the scales at 260 pounds), Lynde scored with a "sick" monologue in which he described the various injuries that had befallen him. The undercurrent of pain inherent in his comedy has been attributed by some observers to Lynde's lifelong insecurities, many of these stemming from the time when his father, mother, and favorite brother all died within a three-month period.

By the time Lynde was cast as the long-suffering father in the 1961 Broadway play Bye Bye Birdie, he had slimmed down considerably and his comic gifts had sharpened to a fine point. Beginning with the 1963 Disney film Son of Flubber, Lynde played a series of movie character parts in which he made snide, cynical comments about everyone and everything. Funny in small doses, Lynde's screen character was a bit too much to take on an extended basis, though he was very funny in the recurring character of Uncle Arthur on the '60s TV sitcom Bewitched, and, after several busted pilots, managed to survive a full season with The Paul Lynde Show in 1972. He also provided a number of cartoon voices, notably the villainous Sylvester Sneakley on Hanna-Barbera's Saturday morning opus The Perils of Penelope Pitstop (1969). During the late '70s, Lynde cultivated a fan following for his wisecracking appearances as the "center square" on the TV celebrity game show The Hollywood Squares. He died in 1982 at the age of 55.

Movie Highlights

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  • Moved to New York after college and made his Broadway debut in the musical revue New Faces of 1952.
  • After a few television appearances, he returned to the stage in 1960 in the Tony-winning musical Bye Bye Birdie (and reprised his role as Mr. MacAfee for the 1963 film version).
  • Had a recurring role as the warlock Uncle Arthur in the 1960s sitcom Bewitched.
  • Companion Bing Davidson accidentally fell off a hotel balcony and died after the two spent a night drinking.
  • Earned a regular spot showcasing his quick quips as the center square on the game show Hollywood Squares.
  • Died of a massive heart attack at age 55.