The Paul Lynde Halloween Special
Imagine a time in 1976 when Paul Lynde was given his own prime-time Halloween TV special to do his thing: mug and grimace in his beloved Hollywood Squares bitch persona with special guest stars Tim Conway, Margaret Hamilton; Florence Henderson; Billie “Witchie Poo” Hayes; Roz “Pinky Tuscadero” Kelly; Donny and Marie; and of course, the band KISS, who would probably like to bury this experience along with their other 70’s cathode disaster, KISS MEET THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK.
Nothing screams “Halloweenie” like this long forgotten nugget of TV ephemera, and the story of how — or why — the ABC executives came up with this spooktacular is lost in the Peruvian dust of the decade. No doubt somebody thought the visual frisson of Paul Lynde and Margaret Hamilton bantering with the premier costumed rawk gawds of the day would equal Nielsen rating gold and fulfill many a contractual obligation. Imagine Lynde as a trucker competing against Tim Conway for Pinky Tuscadero. I recall watching a few minutes of this frightening kitsch, but as a sensitive child, the cringe-factor sent me screaming back to the safety of my dark room and monster magazines.
The entire show is actually now available on DVD and your heart may only be able to stand so much pure unadulterated 1970’s variety show cultural trainwreck replete with laugh track. As Paul Lynde might retort in the patois of the period: hell, this is scarier than the night Phyllis Diller and Ruth Buzzi came over to play naked Twister…