Saturday, December 23, 2006

Oh my goodness!

The posting below on Penelope Pitstop got me wondering about Paul Lynde who did the voice of the Hooded Claw. There are a lot of sites out there about him. He reminds me of an American Kenneth Williams. Both men were somewhat belligerent, both played vile comedy cartoon characters, both were staples of light entertainment panel and chat shows. And both died under slightly odd circumstances (Williams possibly took an overdose, Lynde was found naked and dead next to a bottle of poppers).

Here are some of my favourite Lyndisms from his long stint on Hollywood Squares. At a time when it was wrong wrong wrong to be gay, Paul pushed the boundaries back about as far as you could go, with his fabulous "zingers" that earned him the accolade of being "Centre Square".

Peter Marshall: Paul, Snow White...was she a blonde or a brunette?
Paul Lynde: Only Walt Disney knows for sure...

Peter Marshall: Paul, why do Hell's Angels wear leather?
Paul Lynde: Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.

Peter Marshall: In the "Wizard of Oz," the lion wanted courage and the tin man wanted a heart. What did the scarecrow want?
Paul Lynde: He wanted the tin man to notice him.

Peter Marshall: Who are more likely to be romantically responsive. Women under thirty or women over thirty?
Paul Lynde: I don’t have a third choice…?

Alcohol and pills made him increasingly erratic and unpleasant, and he was eventually dropped from the show. However, ratings dropped also, and he was eventually reinstated.

This site has dozens of Paul Lynde clips, including lots from his bizarre sitcom (The Paul Lynde Show), where he played a married man with kids (unbelievable). I think he was better suited as "funny" Uncle Arthur on Bewitched, telling Samantha "Oh Sammy you really know how to turn me on!" when he magically appeared on her tv screen. He wasn't just in Pitstop and Bewitched though - another bizarre cartoon had him playing a snippy neighbour of football jocks called "Where's Huddles?" And he also played the wolf in "It's the wolf", permanently trying to get his teeth into little Lambsy, and constantly thwarted by Lambsy's "protector" - a big old sheepdog. It's not too difficult to spot the gay bar subtext in all of this.

Here's my favourite Paul montage, a selection of clips of him saying his catchphrase "Oh my goodness". The last one of all is about the queenliest enunciation of all.

And if you want the "dirt", then this site goes into the details of his death and the infamous "Burger King" incident. I'm not sure I would have liked to know Paul in real life, but he's one of those people who's fascinating to know about.


matty said...

I love watching him in film and on TV, but the idea of having to spend more than a few minutes with him gives me the chills. LOL! From everything I've ever read -- he sounds like he was one big walking problem. There is a book out there about him. I read it. I think it is called THE CENTER SQUARE or something like that. It is poorly written, but provided some insights into the man. Quite sad. Funny how laughs can grow out of great sadness, isn't it?

digital_jay said...

In the 50's and 60's it was very difficult to be open about anything, if they weren't rying to out people for being jewish it was trying to put a lid on anything that wasn't "good honest" american ways of life. So Lynde was fighting to remain out of the closet while still being in it.

There was pressure on the talented ones to produce this sex symbol or wholesome image that it became harder to be anything but. Lynde was amazingly talented but it plain to see that the stress of being anything other than normal was starting to push him into extremes.

It is a shame that such a talent had to die in such a horrible way.

Old Cheeser said...

Yes I think times have changed and it's far easier for celebrities in this day and age to be "out" now - look at Dale Winton, Michael Barrymore, Colin and Justin, George Michael, Will Young etc etc. Admittedly some of these people were forced out of the closet through circumstance, but it hasn't done their careers any real harm in the long run.

There does seem to be a pattern with gay comedians of the past - they have their public humorous persona but behind closed doors are usually bitter, twisted and lonely e.g. Kenneth Williams. Again today, people can be more open about their preferences and thank God for that. I'd like to think things are better and there is less conflict between the public and private persona.

Oh my God, for some reason Liberace has just popped into my head - another ultra-camp American perfomer who was in the closet, and a favourite with the ladies, even though every single thing about him screamed "Gay", from his glitzy outfits to his ultra-tacky taste in interior design. I remember seeing a revealing TV bio-pic about him a few years back, where you saw him with his gay lovers.

I can't exactly see them doing a bio-pic about Michael Barrymore or Dale Winton though, can you?