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When Paul Lynde – with sort of a straight face – played a heterosexual husband and father in his own 1970s sitcom

I just love the unexpected things that YouTube can bring into your life. I’ve been binge-watching the old Marlo Thomas sitcom That Girl! which has aged shockingly well so that must be why episodes of The Paul Lynde Show popped up as a suggestion.

The television sitcom aired on ABC from September 13, 1972 to March 14, 1973 and it’s no wonder it didn’t last longer. It’s bloody awful and yet I watched with interest how a clearly homosexual actor fared playing the head of a “traditional” family with wife and kids. Paul Lynde, best known for Bewitched, The Hollywood Squares and Bye Bye Birdie, doesn’t try to butch it up one bit which makes this kind of fascinating.

The series starred Lynde as Paul Simms, a general-practice attorney and the father of a family that consisted of his wife Martha (Elizabeth Allen) and daughters Barbara (Jane Actman) and Sally (Pamelyn Ferdin). The Simms family lived in the fictional city of Ocean Grove, California.

It also starred John Calvin as Barbara’s husband, Howie Dickerson, an eccentric university student who was of genius intelligence (IQ 185) and was a whiz with everything and full of advice, but inexplicably, he could not manage to hold down a job. In other episodes, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara appeared as Howie’s divorced parents, Barney and Grace Dickerson. Howie’s misadventures around the house and his lack of steady employment brought his father-in-law to a state of slow-burn anger and drove him to distraction.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

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(All comments are reviewed before being published, and I review submissions several times per day.)

4 Remarks

  1. John Calvin is a more interesting case for examination. He played gay characters in a couple of projects in that time. The one that comes immediately to mind is Michael Ontkean’s lover/partner at the end of MAKING LOVE.

  2. Oh my god!!

    I was in high school in the ’70s.

    I suppose if I look at the show through the lens of the time period it could pass as a half-decent show but…

    What a waste of talent. Casting should be shot. Does set up to fail come to mind? Paul was a very troubled and talented man. I understand the stigma of the gay thing. This show does not play to his strengths. The blond John Calvin went on to have 104 acting credits.

    I give the powers that be to put it out there and see what happens. Television shows today have to be a hit out the gate in order to be successful and get picked up. If one thinks back, many of the “successful” shows of yesterday took a while to catch on. There is no luxury today.

    My heart does go out to Paul. Only if he was out today. He would be comfortable in himself and who knows success in his talent.

  3. I recall one episode wherein Paul had discovered a joint in Sally’s room and told his wife, Martha, that he was going to lock himself in their room, smoke the joint, and not let him out until he was “normal.” To which, Martha sweetly replied, “But how will we know, dear?”

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