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 ...
lf-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.