Who Was Paul Lynde?
Actor Paul Lynde studied drama with classmates Charlotte Rae, Patricia O'Neal and Charlton Heston. He moved to New York in 1948 where he performed stand-up routines. In 1960 he was cast as the father of a star-struck teenager in the Broadway production Bye, Bye Birdie, the success of which led to the recording of a comedy album and regular spots on The Perry Como Show.
Actor Paul Lynde was born on June 13, 1926, in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Lynde attended Northwestern University, where he studied drama with classmates Charlotte Rae, Patricia O'Neal and Charlton Heston. In 1948, upon his graduation, he moved to New York and honed his comedic skills by performing stand-up routines.
In the early 1950s, Lynde landed a role in a Broadway revue New Faces of 1952. Featuring the now-classic monologue "The Trip of the Month Club," Lynde was singled out for his manic portrayal of a hapless but determinedly upbeat survivor of a tourist trip to Africa. Despite an auspicious Broadway debut, Lynde did not return to stage work for quite some time. Over the next eight years, he made guest appearances on variety and radio shows.
In 1960, Lynde was cast as the father of a star-struck teenager in the Broadway production Bye, Bye Birdie, a role that he reprised in the 1963 film adaptation, which starred Dick Van Dyke and Ann-Margaret. For Lynde, the success of Bye, Bye Birdie led to the recording of a comedy album and regular spots on The Red Buttons Show and The Perry Como Show.
Film and TV Career
Over the next few years, Lynde appeared in supporting roles in lighthearted films like Under the Yum-Yum Tree (1963), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) and The Glass Bottom Boat (1966). Lynde forged a lucrative career as a character actor with parts on the popular TV series The Munsters, I Dream of Jeanie and Bewitched. In 1967, he debuted on the fledgling game show Hollywood Squares, where, as the permanent center square, he found an outlet to showcase his comedic talents for the next 15 years.
In 1972, playing an uptight attorney and father at odds with his liberal-minded son, Lynde starred in the short-lived sitcom The Paul Lynde Show. The series' failure exacerbated Lynde's pre-existing drinking problem, which led to numerous run-ins with the law and frequent arrests for public intoxication.
On January 10, 1982, at the age of 55, Lynde died of a massive heart attack brought on by years of substance abuse.
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