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Center Square: The Paul Lynde Storyby Steve Wilson
Synopses & Reviews
Advocate Books Life Stories
In an age when celebrities have turned the act of coming out into an empowering media event, Paul Lynde certainly seems like a campy relic of less-liberated times. This view of Lynde as an out-of-step, self-loathing queen of queens overlooks the man’s great, if accidental, achievement: getting away with being gay on TV on an almost daily basis for years. During his three decades as a popular character actor on television, film and the stage, this fairy forefather’s arch and bitchy wit snuck regular doses of the queer world into that bastion of intolerance, the American living room. Lynde showed mainstream viewers that a gay man could deliver the jokes, not just be the butt of them. In doing so, he helped make homosexuality more palatable to unwitting viewers who simply saw him as a stylish, funny man. Biographers Steve Wilson and Joe Florenski draw on revealing interviews with friends from Lynde’s childhood, college days and adult years—including stars such as Phyllis Diller, Charlotte Rae, Cloris Leachman and Peter Marshall, who worked with Lynde in Broadway productions and in film and television. What emerges is a memorable portrait of a man who reaped his share of wealth, enjoyed a fair amount of fame and basked in the adoration of thousands of fans—but paid a price in hardship, heartbreak and hangovers.
Steve Wilson met co-biographer Joe Florenski while researching an article on Paul Lynde for Out magazine in 2000. He ran across Florenski’s website devoted to Lynde. Begun in 1997, the site contains exhaustive resources on Lynde, and Florenski has lent research support to both E! and A&E’s Biography for their segments on the comedian. Wilson and Florenski worked so well together on the piece for Out that they decided to collaborate on a book.
"The sarcastic, wise-cracking Lynde, primarily remembered for his quick (and scripted) double-entendres on the TV game show Hollywood Squares and his 10 appearances as Uncle Arthur on Bewitched, is sympathetically profiled in this well-researched biography of a demon-plagued performer who, after a few drinks, used the same razor-sharp barbs that amused TV viewers to alienate and devastate friends and foes. It's a sad tale of an entertainer who achieved great financial success (in the 1970s, he made $50,000 a week performing in summer stock), but always thought his supporting roles were beneath him. Lynde's self-destructive drinking magnified his insecurities and frustrations, and fueled rages. Although trim, handsome and out about his homosexuality to everyone but the oblivious home viewers, he never forgot his fat childhood ('I looked like Kate Smith's niece') and preferred to buy sexual escorts rather than risk relationships. One reason Wilson and Florenski (who co-wrote a piece on Lynde for Out) have difficulty making Lynde come alive is that he let so few people get close to him. Still, fans of the gay icon will appreciate this appraisal (which debunks the sensational rumors surrounding his death in 1982 from a heart attack). Photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The true story behind the bizarre, prickly, hilarious persona of Paul Lynde.
As a popular character actor and a regular on "The Hollywood Squares," Paul Lynde showed mainstream viewers that a gay man could be perceived as a stylish, funny man. This biography of Lynde paints a portrait of a man who reaped the rewards of frame, but paid with hardships and heartaches.
About the Author
Steve Wilson met cobiographer Joe Florenski while researching an article on Paul Lynde for Out magazine in 2000. He ran across Florenski's Web site devoted to Lynde. Begun in 1997, the site contains exhaustive resources on Lynde, and Florenski has lent re
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