Paul Edward Lynde, (13 June 1926 – 10 January 1982) was a U.S. comedian and actor best-known today as "Uncle Arthur" on the television series Bewitched, as Harry McAfee, the befuddled father in Bye Bye Birdie, and as the center square on the game-show Hollywood Squares., from 1968 to 1981.
Paul Lynde was born 13 June 1926 in Clinton Township, Knox County, Ohio, the son of Hoy Lynde and his wife Sylvia Bell Doup. Although Paul's tombstone states his birthyear as 1927, his birth certificate states 1926 (Florenski). Paul grew up in Mount Vernon, Ohio graduating from Mount Vernon High School. He then enrolled in 1944 at Northwestern University in Evanston, Cook County, Illinois, graduating in 1948.
One of Paul's early stage appearances was in the musical "Anything Goes" at the Corning Summer Theater July 1951, playing the part of Billy.
Paul was in Leonard Sillman's "New Faces" of 1952 a revue, along with other mentionable new talent of the time Eartha Kitt and Alice Ghostley. They played Broadway for a year, and then toured for another year. Paul appeared on the Red Buttons Show, the Martha Raye Show, and the Imogene Coca Show between 1952 and 1955. He appeared on the Steve Allen Show in 1955, and the Arlene Francis Show in 1957. In 1958 he appeared on The Lux Show.
In 1960 he appeared on Broadway as the father Henry McAfee in the play Bye Bye Birdie. He also appeared in the same role in the film version co-starring Dick Van Dyke and Ann-Margret which was released in 1963.
Paul's first appearance on the TV-show Bewitched was 25 Mar 1965 in episode 26 where he played Samantha's driving instructor, but he would shortly return in the recurring role of Uncle Arthur, the brother of Sam's mother Endora, played by Agnes Moorehead.
Read my write-up of Every Episode of Bewitched, on Knol
On the 17th of July 1965, Paul and his companion James Binger "Bing" Davidson checked into the Drake Hotel in San Francisco. Bing, age 24, was a relatively new actor, who had joined the Screen Actors Guild in May 1963. He was in the 1963 movie "Move Over Darling" starring Doris Day and James Garner, and had played a part in May 1965 in the 20th Century Fox film "Take Her She's Mine". He might be credited as Bing Davidson, or also as J.B. Davidson.
Early on the 18th of July 1965, after they both had been drinking, Bing said "Watch me do a trick" and then stepped out of the window. He clung for two minutes to the ledge by his fingertips, attempting to pull himself back in, but instead fell eight stories to his death, while passersby screamed and stared. His death was listed as accidental. His body was shipped back to Grand Island and was buried at Hastings. Bing was the son of James A. Davidson and his wife Elaine Moriarty of Grand Island, Nebraska.
Some online sources, without citation, state that Jim is buried next to Paul in Ohio, but so-far I've not found a primary source for that. If he is, then his body must have been moved sometime later.
Update: A site reader sent me a copy of Bing's death certificate stating that he is buried in Hastings, and an Amity Cemetery volunteer has just confirmed with me that Bing is not buried next to Paul Lynde.
|Paul died 9 Jan 1982 of a heart attack, in Beverly Hills, California. His funeral was held in Los Angeles. His body was cremated and the ashes shipped back to Ohio. The ashes and/or urn are buried in Amity Cemetery, Amity, Ohio.|
Primary Sources for 1
- "Actor Plunges 8 Stories: Window Ledge 'Trick' Proves Fatal", The Independent (Pasadena, California), 19 Jul 1965, San Francisco (AP)
- "Rites Wednesday for former Grand Island man", The Columbus Daily Telegram (Columbus, Nebraska), 20 Jul 1965, Grand Island (UPI)
- Death Certificate data of James B. Davidson (provided courtesy of Joe at paullyndestory.com) : "b. 17 December 1940; d. 18 July 1965; Father: James A. Davidson; Mother: Elaine Morearty; SSN: 505-44-3375; Parents lived at 1705 S. Harrison, Grand Island, Nebraska.; Name of Cemetery: Hastings, Nebraska; Name of Funeral Director: Halstead & Co."
- Obituary provided courtesy of Joe at paullyndestory.com : 20 Jul 1965 Hastings Tribune: "James Binger Davidson, 24, who was born in Hastings and spent his boyhood years in the community, plunged to his death Sunday.... A son of Mr. and Mrs. James A. Davidson, he moved with his family to Grand Island in 1955 and was graduated from Grand Island high school.... In addition to his parents he leaves a brother and sister, Steven and Susan of Grand Island. Arrangements for services and burial will be announced by the Butler-Volland Funeral Home."