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”. Lynde 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.

Agnes Moorehead found here

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.

Mantyhose found here

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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41 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. He’s gotta be one of the very best “off the cuff response” quick wits of all time. He was always like 270th day pregnant ready to “deliver” a line.

    • I heard that they told the panelists beforehand what the questions were so they could come up with the one liners (or have the writers do it).

      I loved Paul in Charlottes Web. Completely forgot about that.

      • I always wondered whether they got the jokes in advance. Do they give all the panelists all the questions? Because they never know who the contestant is going to call on. And if the panelists know the questions in advance, how come they often don’t know the answers?

      • Maybe they gave them the questions right before the show started. This was in the 60s and 70s, so it would have taken a lot more time and effort to look up the correct answer than to make up a one-liner.

  2. i must have been born a hag, because the only reason i watched “Hollywood Squares” as a child? Paul Lynde.

    • I don’t think I ever saw it

      • I watched it all the time – and I loved Paul Lynde! He was so snarky.

  3. Lol, that is pretty gay of him

    • Which answer? the Billy Graham or the Hell’s Angels?

  4. I loved that guy and his smirky sarcasm. Actually all the “Bewitched” people were pretty interesting types. Even the Derwoods.

    I once read where Erin Murphy aka Tabitha recalled Agnes Moorehead giving the children religious instruction on set. Apparently her father was a Presbyterian minister (if I’ve remembered it right). Wonder what he thought of her playing a witch?

    Elizabeth Montgomery was a pretty cool person and very supportive of the gay community. One of the Derwoods came out and I remember seeing them in a Pride parade together.

    David White (Larry Tate, Darren’s overbearing boss) was apparently a very funny person and had a wicked sense of humour. He also unfortunately had a sad life. He lost his wife at a young age and then his son was a victim of the Lockerbie bombing. David himself passed away not long after that.

    • How many Derwoods were there?

      • Two. The one that came out was Dick Sargeant.

      • Thanks, I wasn’t sure.

  5. I don’t seem to remember Uncle Arthur from Bewitched. A good reason to look for the show and watch it again.

    • Endora would be the main reason for me

  6. We still bake Christians here at the Castle, it’s surprisingly jolly sending them on their way to meet Jesus or Mary or the Holy Goat.

    They did spoil some gingerbread once though, it turned a funny colour.

    The King

    • Was that the batch we ate at Brigadoon?

  7. Laughed out loud at the Hollywood Squares stuff, I’d never heard those (far too sophisticated for my 2 TV channel NZ upbringing I suppose). He did a TV Halloween special with Kiss as guests too which fortunately I’ve never seen either.

    • Oh yes, a childhood with the choice of only two channels. I remember arriving in Australia and finding they had FOUR!!

  8. Well that gave me a few chuckles young Nursey.

    • I’ve got condensed milk and gingernuts in the cupboard if you want to drop by for more laughs daddyp

  9. Never saw Hollywood Squares – don’t think it was ever shown in the UK. I would loved to have heard his off the cuff responses though. Excellent!

  10. Well, I feel distinctly out of the loop here, never saw this guy or Hollywood Squares. Cranky, sarcastic and mincing, huh? My dad was cranky and sarcastic, but mincing he was not. He was straight as a 12 inch ruler.

  11. Wow… loved this trip down memory lane. Thanks for the reminder… I loved Paul Lynde but didn’t know a lot of the personal things mentioned here… about his death, about Jim Davidson.

    I remember as a child I heard about Agnes Moorehead being a lesbian. And that she lived with Debbie Reynolds. Ever since I was a child I was always so fascinated by lesbians… but I never knew why. I still am… and I still don’t know why. 🙂

    • I didn’t know about Agnes and Debbie

  12. Had Denny been gay, Paul Lynde would have been my first inappropriate May-September homosexual crush.

  13. Giggles. I am really into the Mantyhose. I like how they “increase lower body power”. I vaguely recall the Uncle Arthur fellow but I was usually transfixed by the dainty, magical nose…

    • I take it that you’re fond of ballet too Mitzi

  14. A razor wit of which to be envious.

    • Yes, I always think of my best replies ten minutes after everyone’s left the room 😦

  15. I remember him in Hollywood Squares and he was usually the highlight. And his voice was so distinctive.

    • Distinctive in an attractive way?

  16. I’m reading the comments and thinking “I guess people really did like Lynde, huh?” I found him mean and annoying–so annoying that I quit watching the show many years before its demise (it is dead, isn’t it?)

    • I think it ended in 2004

  17. Bewitched was at one time the highest rating TV programme in the USA, and was even sponsored by Chevrolet. And it was just about the gayest thing on air. Two gay Darrens, a gay uncle Arthur, a lesbian Endora, and a gay icon in the leading role. Thanks to Bewitched, Paul Lynde popularised those little neck hankies for about two years between 1966 and 1968.

    • Is a neck hankie the same as a cravat? I hate those things!

  18. He may have been a miserable git, but his quips are quiptastic

  19. Loved watching Paul Lynde on Bewitched. I believe he appeared a few times as a minor character in the black and white episodes before they made him a regular for the color episodes.

    Thank for the clarification on how he died. The official word from what I’ve read over the years was that a guy who he picked up left him there to die while he was suffering a heart attack.

  20. It’s just rude not to have a polite conversation with your car every now and then…

  21. Now that I know Templeton is gay, I want to rewatch “Charlotte’s Web.”

  22. I remember this guy on the Hollywood Squares in the 70s as a little kid. My grandmother would watch the show. I remember seeing some reruns of Bewitched at a friends house and he was a character on it a few years back and I realized this this guy was really funny and sarcastic. At least he went out with a “bang.”

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