creeping scoutmaster

Paul Lynde was an actor, comedian and regular guest on Hollywood Squares.

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He served as Uncle Arthur on Bewitched, opposite Agnes Moorehead’s Endora, a woman he referred to on more than one occasion as “one of the all-time Hollywood dykes”.┬áLynde himself is among the gayest celebrities the world has ever known. Chronically cranky, sarcastic and mincing, his career was defined by his voice work as Templeton the rat in Charlotte’s Web, and as the wisecracking centerpiece on television’s Hollywood Squares.

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In 1965, Lynde was vacationing in San Francisco with his 24-year-old companion Jim Davidson. As a prank, up in their hotel room Davidson made frantic flapping gestures as if to suggest he could jump from the balcony — and while doing so, he slipped and fell to his death. Two police officers standing on the street below saw the whole thing. They comforted Lynde, who remembers: “They said, ‘Don’t worry, Paul, we saw it all. If you need us, we’ll be here. We’re not going to let them wipe you out with this.’ They knew it looked strange: he was younger than I was, he was good-looking, and why was he there with me? Why did he jump? Why did he fall?”

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After Bewitched was cancelled, Lynde was selected as a game show panelist. He didn’t offer “dirty” answers on The Hollywood Squares, he delivered kinky, bitchy responses. He was a regular during its second week in 1966 and joined full time in the fall of 1968. Less than a decade later, he left the show after the National Enquirer claimed an “insider” revealed Lynde was fired because of his drinking problem. The source revealed documentation of Lynde’s nastiness and implied that his alcoholism created a problem for costars. Even though these facts were common knowledge, Lynde sued the Enquirer for ten million dollars, chiefly to find out who the insider was. The case was summarily dismissed, but it ushered in a new era of tabloid litigation. Some of Lynde’s famous quips during Hollywood Squares include:

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Q: According to the old song, “At night, when you’re asleep, into your tent I’ll creep.” Who am I?

A: The scoutmaster.

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Q. Do female frogs croak?

A: If you hold their little heads under water long enough.

Q: Paul, can you get an elephant drunk?

A: Yes, but he still won’t go up to your apartment.

Q: Prometheus was tied to the top of a mountain by the gods because he had given something to man. What did he give us?

A: I don’t know what you got, but I got a sports shirt.

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Q: Is Billy Graham considered a good dresser?

A: No, but he’s a terrific end table.

Q: When is it a good idea to put your pantyhose in the microwave oven for two minutes?

A: When your house is surrounded by the police.

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Q: When you pat a dog on its head he will usually wag his tail. What will a goose do?

A: Make him bark.

Q: It is considered in bad taste to discuss two subjects at nudist camps. One is politics. What is the other?

A: Tape measures.

Q: Paul, why do Hell’s Angels wear leather?

A: Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.

Q: Paul, in ancient Rome, bakers were required by law to bake something into each loaf of bread. What?

A: A Christian.

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Q: What is a pullet?

A: A little show of affection.

Q: According to the French Chef, Julia Child, how much is a pinch?

A: Just enough to turn her on.

Q: Who are more likely to be romantically responsive. Women under thirty or women over thirty?

A: I don’t have a third choice?

Supposedly Paul Lynde was the inspiration for a gag which made its way into the movie Groundhog Day. After a drunken high speed chase through the San Fernando Valley one night, Lynde crashed his car into a mailbox. When the cops rushed the scene with their guns drawn, Lynde lowered his window and ordered a cheeseburger with no onions and a large Sprite.

One night in January of 1982, Paul missed a dinner appointment with a group of long-time friends. Concerned, they rushed to his home on North Palm Drive in Beverly Hills. He was found naked and dead, surrounded by amyl-nitrate poppers, an inhalant used primarily by gay men to enhance sex. His death was ruled a heart attack.

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