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Center Square: The Paul Lynde Story

Steve Wilson, Author, Joe Florenski, Author
Steve Wilson, Author, Joe Florenski, Author . Advocate $16.95 (239p) ISBN 978-1-55583-793-8
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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. (Aug.)

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