Paul Lynde Halloween Special: Little Monsters, KISS, and Camp

Shades of Lady Gaga  nearly two and half decades before Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta donned platform shoes and a meat dress. Watch Paul Lynde thanking his

Little monsters

at the close of his surreal 1976 Halloween special; it shows a throughline of queer consciousness.

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special is a mash-up of 1976′s culture clashes. Lynde makes jokes about the upcoming election while KISS, Betty White, Donnie and Marie (in an uncredited appearance), Margaret Hamilton, and other surprise guests perform sketches with the Crown Prince of Camp, Paul Lynde.

For many years, Paul Lynde and Liberace [Lee] were the two most visible gay men on television, and Lynde was always cooler than Lee, appealing to a younger generation.  He played sarcastic, practical joking Uncle Arthur on Bewitched  and was also the center square on the game show Hollywood Squares, where his snarky double entendres (and center spot on the game board) made him a favorite. Many jokes on the Hollywood Squares centered around thinly veiled references to Lynde’s sexuality, and I still wonder if my grandmother and her generation got them…

Q: You’re the world’s most popular fruit. What are you?
Lynde: Humble.

Q: What unusual thing do you do, if you have something called ‘the gift of tongues’?
Lynde: I wouldn’t tell the grand jury; why should I tell you?

This 1976 television special is over-the-top crazed, with Lynde being granting three wishes by the witches (Hamilton and Billy Hayes from HR Pufnstuf). One wish is to be the Rhinestone Trucker with a big rig (trucking was huge deal in the mid-70s, popularized in songs and movies and on TV). In another wish skit Lynde becomes a sheikh in the desert, a great lover who tries to seduce Florence Henderson (high points are the jokes about a cockatoo and milking a cobra). The third wish transports Lynde and the witches to a haunted disco where Florence Henderson sings “That Old Black Magic”  and KISS performs their hit “Beth.”

KISS, Florence Henderson and Paul Lynde together makes for one of the freakiest TV experiences ever, stranger even than David Bowie and Iggy Pop with Rosemary Clooney on Dinah Shore’s afternoon talk show. And the Halloween special gets even more surreal when Lynde starts to sing “Disco Lady” with Roz “Pinky Tuscadero” Kelly. There’s more strangeness throughout the show, but I don’t want to spoil it for you–it has to be seen to be believed. All I can think is that there must have been booze involved, along with a desire to appear relevant to all ages in the concept and execution of what is now a bizarre slice of Americana.

Huge bear hug to Suzanne at  who posted about Paul Lynde’s Halloween Special–ahead of me by 24 hours.  Great minds think alike!

11 Responses to "Paul Lynde Halloween Special: Little Monsters, KISS, and Camp"
Peterr | Sunday October 27, 2013 05:17 pm 1

Shades of Lady Gaga two and half decades before Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta donned platform shoes and a meat dress.

Per wiki and doing the math, this was 10 years before she was born.

I don’t have the time right now, but I’m gonna find an hour tomorrow to watch this show. Thanks!

Oh, and I’m pretty sure your grandmother’s generation got the jokes. I’m also pretty sure that they bit their tongues in the presence of their grandchildren, so as not to have to deal with any odd conversations.

Lisa Derrick | Sunday October 27, 2013 05:21 pm 2

Math is hard! But yeah, approx 25 years before meat dress and platforms.

Lisa Derrick | Sunday October 27, 2013 05:23 pm 3
In response to Peterr @ 1

My granny lived in Hiawatha, Kansas, not real sure if she would have gotten the jokes, she was born in the 1800s.

cmaukonen | Sunday October 27, 2013 06:04 pm 4

He was best on Hollywood Squares. So much so he was the permanent center square.

Elliott | Sunday October 27, 2013 07:58 pm 5

BZarre is right! lolol

bluewombat | Sunday October 27, 2013 09:56 pm 6

He was always great on Hollywood Squares.

bluewombat | Sunday October 27, 2013 09:56 pm 7

Oops — I see that cmauk has beaten me to the punch.

EarthquakeWeather | Sunday October 27, 2013 11:05 pm 8

Ah the days when you had three choices on TV. Horrible joke writers. I bet he was 100X funnier in person.

PghLesbian | Wednesday October 30, 2013 01:21 pm 9

Was that Witchie Poo?

Lisa Derrick | Wednesday October 30, 2013 02:10 pm 10
In response to PghLesbian @ 9


JP Sottile | Thursday October 31, 2013 08:53 am 11

Pinky Tuscadero. That is all.

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