Q: “You’re the world’s most popular fruit. What are you?” A:…

Q: “You’re the world’s most popular fruit. What are you?”
A: “Humble.” – Paul Lynde to Peter Marshall, “Hollywood Squares”
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Picture: Paul Lynde (June 13, 1926 – January 11, 1982), c. 1975
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Paul Lynde, who was born ninety-one years ago today, was an American comedian, actor, and television personality, best-known for roles in “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Bewitched,” and as the center square on “Hollywood Squares.”
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After moving to New York City, Lynde made his Broadway debut in 1952. In 1960, he was cast as Harry MacAfee in “Bye Bye Birdie,” a role he’d also play in the film adaptation.
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Lynde was a popular television actor throughout the 1960s, becoming a familiar face on shows like “The Patty Duke Show,” “The Munsters,” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.” In the late 1960s, “Bewitched” executives created the role of Uncle Arthur for Lynde, and he voiced characters like the rat Templeton in the animated “Charlotte’s Web.”
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After guest starring on “Hollywood Squares” in 1966, Lynde became its permanent center square from 1968 to 1979. As @paleycenter explained, Lynde was “the go-to favorite among the celebrity guests, being fed questions that ensured a tart, often surprisingly risqué reply, some of his answers suggesting a coded, campy gay sensibility: [e.g., asked whether it was illegal in Texas to call a Marine a ‘sissy,’ Lynde responded, ‘I guess I’ll have to take the law into my own hands’]…To most of America he was just a ‘smart ass’ who talked kind of funny, but to the gay community his unapologetic, scalding manner was something to which they responded, perhaps interpreting the Lynde wit as a mechanism against an intolerant world.” This interpretation, however, is not universally accepted, as there are many in the queer community who see Lynde as “symboliz[ing] what’s perceived to be a self-loathing era for gay culture.”
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For much of his life, Lynde struggled with alcoholism, and he had several run-ins with police; these issues grew worse as his career suffered in the late 1970s.
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Paul Lynde, who had been sober since 1980, died of a heart attack in January 1982; he was fifty-five. #HavePrideInHistory #PaulLynde