THE PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL
October 29, 1976
They sure were nuts for their variety specials in the 1970s, weren't they? While the cast of the Brady Bunch may have produced some of the more popular specials, and The Star Wars Holiday Special has become quite a cult favorite, The Paul Lynde Halloween Special may have been the most absurd of the bunch.
Aired on October 29, 1976, this special contained all of the requirements for a 1970s variety show. There were song and dance numbers, wacky special guests, costume changes, bad jokes, and, of course, Paul Lynde. Paul may be best known by some as the "Center Square" on the old Hollywood Squares game show. His unique vibrating voice, his never-ending supply of puns (which would always be followed by his fake laugh), and his willingness to dress in ridiculous costumes make him the perfect person to host a variety show.
Did someone say ridiculous costumes? Coincidentally, this special starts with Paul dressed in a Santa Claus costume:
Apparently Paul is confused. Not only does he think this is a Christmas Special, but he also thinks Santa has a Dutch Boy haircut. His housekeeper, Margaret, informs him that it's not Christmas.
Paul tries again. Maybe this costume is right?
Margaret again tells Paul that it's not Easter, and that he's looking a right pudgy in that outfit. She's also wondering what that palm tree is doing in Paul's house. Actually I was wondering that. I have no idea what Margaret was wondering. Don't be silly.
Ok, you can probably see this next segment coming up Main Street and crashing through your door.
Paul sings "My Funny Valentine" to a giant box of chocolates, thinking it's Valentine's Day. Guess who walks in? Yup, good ole' Maggie. She tells him that it is not, in fact, Valentine's Day. They press the joke a little farther until she reveals to Paul that it's Halloween.
Finally, we see the opening credits. Then, Paul does a bit of a monologue where he tells some of his classic puns. Then, in case you had forgotten that this was a Variety Show, he sings a song. Paul starts singing a number called "Kids" by himself, stating how annoying he thinks the little brats are. Then, as a form of punishment, he is joined by costumed dancers.
Aaaaah! The orange!
The oranged atrocities soon tie Paul up and force him to do a line dance with them. What did you expect?
Let's see what kind of costumed characters we have here. There's the, uhhh... guy with the orange wig and hat. Then there's the other guy with the orange wig, hat and a black mask. Then there's the lady with the orange wig and white mask. Then there's the Paul Lynde with the lovely dull brown jacket. All popular children's costumes from the 70s.
And then, for no damn reason...
Donny and frickin' Marie come along with their matching outfits and matching haircuts and put Paul in a trash can. Then they leave. They don't say anything and do not appear anywhere else in this special. Donny and frickin' Marie.
In the next segment, Paul and his housekeeper Margaret go for a drive to her sister's house, called Gloomsbury Manor. Paul gets a bit scared when he sees the spooky looking house. He gets even more scared when Margaret's sister answers the door.
In case you were wondering - yes, that is Witchiepoo from HR Puf N Stuf. At least that's what it says on the back cover of the DVD.
They all go inside. Paul is frightened, which causes him to tell several puns in a row. While he is talking to Witchiepoo, he turns around to see Margaret transformed into...
Oh snap! Margaret is the Wicked Witch Of The West (from The Wizard Of Oz... duh!)! How did Paul not know that his housekeeper was secretly leading a double life as the most feared witch in all of Oz? More importantly, how is Paul going to escape from two witches with only his oversized scarf to protect him?
Oh, no worry. The witches aren't there to hurt Paul. To prove this to him, they introduce him to "Miss Halloween 1976", Betty White.
Betty is, of course, very upset when she appears out of nowhere and only sees Paul and his mega-scarf. You see, the witches promised her a date with Paul Newman, not this Paul. She then quickly disappears. Yes, it does seem to be a pointless segment.
The witches then inform Paul that they want him to be their spokesman, in order to clear the bad name witches have gotten in the past. Apparently they chose Paul because he is a friend of Donny and freakin' Marie. In hopes of convincing Paul, they grant him three wishes.
For Paul's first wish he says he always wanted to be a trucker. Wish granted. Cut to new segment. Meet "The Rhinestone Trucker":
This outfit was originally rejected by The Village People for being "too god damn macho".
Cut to a regular guest on the 1970s Variety Show circuit, Tim Conway.
As you can tell, Tim is also a truck driver. Tim and The Rhinestone Trucker then communicate with each other on their CBs. Because of this, we are subject to this very disturbing split screen:
Why does Paul have the symbol for "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince" on his arm?
Well, I'm afraid mustachioed Tim is not too bright. See, he is nervous because he is carrying dynamite in his truck. Always the practical joker, Paul encourages him to "light up" to ease his nerves. Tim does and, of course, blows the hell up.
Cut to another split screen of The Rhinestone Trucker and Tim.
But I thought Tim blew the hell up? Ahh, ha! This is a completely different, non-mustachioed Tim.
Tim and Paul talk over their CBs about women they're about to marry. They soon find out that they're engaged to the same woman!
Cut to Pinky Tuscadero working as a waitress in a cocktail bar. Tim runs in and quickly tries to marry her before Paul arrives. I guess he thought the "First come, first serve" sign on the door applied in this situation as well.
Before they can finish getting married, the good ole' Rhinestone Trucker drives through the wall.
Yes, at this point I think almost every viewer would agree that this sketch has gone on way too long. But, ahhh, it's not over yet!
Pinky tries to decide which trucker to marry. She wants them to perform tests of strength. They both break random stuff in the diner. Just then, the diner's owner (who just happens to be a dwarf... of course) runs in and starts complaining about the mess. He then starts pushing the truck out of the door with one arm.
Wow, this is getting almost too absurd. But, we're not done yet!
Anyway, Pinky can clearly see that the dwarf is the strongest man there so she will marry him. But wait! Tim says he's the smartest, so she should pick him. However, The Rhinestone Trucker is the richest. So, Pinky decides that he will be the man she marries.
I just can't get over how disturbing Paul looks in that outfit.
So, now Pinky and The Rhinestone Trucker are going to get married. That means the sketch is over, right? No, no. You obviously have not seen many 70s Variety Shows. The segment isn't over until everyone does a song and dance number!
In case you have trouble making out what you're seeing in that picture, we have Paul, Pinky and Tim singing (each battling for the "worst singer ever" prize) while dancers give each other pony-back rides. And why not?
And, finally.... End Scene.
The next scene features KISS, in their first primetime network appearance, lip synching "Detroit Rock City".
For almost 20 years, the only parts of this special that I had seen were the KISS segments. In fact, if KISS weren't on this show, I probably would never have even heard of it. If someone only wanted to see the KISS performances from this special, they are available on KISSology Volume 1: 1974-1977. Of course, the whole special is also available on DVD (see link at the bottom of the page). End shameless promotion mode.
Ok, back to the show. After KISS performs, Paul and his witch friends start playing Monopoly.
Paul says he's getting tired of hanging out with witches and jokingly wishes that he were in the Sahara Desert. Did he say "wish"? Remember, the witches granted him three wishes earlier. So, of course, they grant his second wish.
Paul has been transformed into a rich Sheik. We soon find out that he has kidnapped a young woman, played by another staple of the Variety Show circuit, Florence Henderson.
She's very upset with Sheik Paul and will not talk to him. He tries to give her a glass of "hyena wine" to calm her down. She's still upset. Finally, he offers her some jewelry and she starts falling for him (this is starting to be a theme with Paul).
Just when they start to embrace, who should bust in...?
Of course! Another Tim Conway character! He is there to arrest Paul for kidnapping. Tim takes Paul away. Paul quickly returns, stating that he gave Tim a cockatoo to be let go. A cockatoo? I wonder if... no, I think I'll just let you make up your own joke for that one.
Cut back to Paul at the witch's house. He tells them he'd like to give them his third wish so they can get something they want. Well, of course, they choose to go to a "Hollywood Disco".
I always wondered what a "Hollywood Disco" looked like. Apparently you need an orange afro wig to get in.
But, luckily enough, this Hollywood Disco has hired some entertainment for the night. Cut to Florence Henderson singing a horrible number called, "That Old Black Magic".
This song includes some way-too-close shots of Florence's head.
Florence also enters the "Worst Singer Ever" contest along with Paul, Tim and Pinky. So far, Paul is in the lead.
The next segment features Peter Criss from KISS lip syncing their hit, "Beth".
Peter pretends to play the piano while the large-haired bust looks on disapprovingly.
Paul and Margaret then attempt to interview KISS. You can almost see the discomfort coming from everyone.
The two pictures above were taken about five seconds apart. The camera showed the first image, then there was a close-up on Paul (Lynde, not Stanley), then the camera showed the second image. Is it me, or does something seem out of place? I feel like I'm playing that old Sesame Street game where you have to try and find the differences in the pictures. Does anyone know what I'm referring to? Oh, never mind.
KISS then performs "King Of The Night Time World" to an audience of multi-colored wig-wearing masks.
In the next scene, Pinky comes out to do another song and dance number. She is joined in a line dance by Paul, Florence and Tim. Absurd, absurd, absurd.
Paul helps Pinky sing some of the song. It's like a little bit o' heaven.
As it turns out, this is the big closing number. The camera cuts to shots of different people dancing, including this one:
You know, I never thought I would see the Wicked Witch Of The West disco-dancing with another witch and a dwarf. Call me wacky.
Paul then thanks everyone and says good night. During the credits, the Hollywood Disco party continues and everyone keeps on dancing. We are also treated to something else that I never thought I would see...
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