“The Paul Lynde Halloween Special”: A campy candy-cornish cornucopia of memorable ’70s TV

By on October 31, 2019

On Friday, October 29, 1976, the ABC network aired The Paul Lynde Halloween Special,” a campy candy-cornish cornucopia of memorable ’70s TV moments.

This nearly hour-long Halloween-themed special — featuring comedy sketches, choreographed song & dance routines, celebrity guest cameos and KISS‘s primetime TV premiere aired just once, but we’ve now got it streaming for you on Night Flight Plus.


When “The Paul Lynde Halloween Special” variety show was being taped at ABC’s Burbank studios on October 19th, in order to air ten days later, it’s likely none of the network’s TV executives could have predicted that bootlegged VHS tapes of this show would end up being traded for decades between KISS fanatics desperate for any KISS-related paraphernalia they could get their misshapen little hands on, their tiny fingers claw-shaped after years of chronic masturbating and clutching TV remotes and video game controllers.


In addition to KISS lip-synching and flash-bombing their way through three tracks from Destroyer, “The Paul Lynde Halloween Special” also features host Paul Lynde cracking jokes with Margaret Hamilton, Billie Hayes, Billy Barty, Florence Henderson, Tim Conway, Roz “Pinky Tuscadero” Kelly (Fonzie’s main squeeze from “Happy Days”), Betty White (appearing as an angelic “Miss Halloween”) and cutie pie sibling singers Donny and Marie Osmond, among others.

Paul Lynde remains well-known today to the ME-TV generation, mostly for his double entendre-cracking, overtly-gay center square appearances in 828 episodes of TV’s “Hollywood Squares.”

However, a devoted legion of Lynde Lovers have also been rediscovering his comedic acting talents and elevating his posthumous appeal, making him a much-loved gay icon of the past in the process.


Lynde appeared in literally dozens of other memorable movie and TV roles, but he may be best known for playing the prankster “Uncle Arthur” on TV’s “Bewitched,” the jittery family physician “Dr. Dudley” during the first season of “The Munsters,” and the befuddled father “Harry MacAfee” in the Broadway play and 1963 film of Bye Bye Birdie (ask your grandparents about that one). Many fans also remember him for voicing “Templeton,” the care-free, egotistical rat in the animated 1973 film of Charlotte’s Web.

Lynde — who died on January 11, 1982, after suffering cardiac arrest — also had his own TV sitcom, 1972’s “The Paul Lynde Show,” which lasted just one season (26 episodes) before it was canceled.

“The Paul Lynde Halloween Special,” however, is — trust us — truly one of the most bizarre TV specials of the ’70s.

Read more about The Paul Lynde Halloween Special below.


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The Paul Lynde Halloween Special is built around Lynde celebrating a holiday, but he’s confused as to which one it is, dressing up as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and even singing “My Funny Valentine” for Valentine’s Day.

Then, his housekeeper (Margaret Hamilton) says “I’ll give you a hint… it’s filled with witches, spooks, and weird creatures of the night,” to which Lynde responds: “Oh, sounds like ‘Hollywood Squares’.”

If you laughed or groaned at that, well, you’re going to love the rest of the jokes here, most of them written by six-time Emmy Award-winner Bruce Vilanch, the one-time head writer on “Hollywood Squares,” appearing on the show himself for four years. He’s written a ton of campy TV specials, though, including “The Star Wars Holiday Special.”

One of the other writers here was Ronny Graham, who frequently worked with the great Mel Brooks.


There’s a silly parody musical number (“Kids” from the musical Bye Bye Birdie), which ends with Donny and Marie stuffing Lynde into an exploding trash can.

Then, Lynde accepts an invitation from his housekeeper to spend the weekend at a spooky-looking haunted house called Gloomsbury Manor, where Billy Barty appears as “Gallows the Butler.”

That’s where we all discover Hamilton (reprising her Wicked Witch of the West role from M-G-M’s 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz) and her sister (Billie Hayes, “Witchie Poo” from TV’s “H.R. Pufnstuf”) are both — surprise! — witches. They grant him three wishes (don’t ask us why).

That leads us into a skit where Lynde explores his secret desire to become a rhinestone-bedazzled, wig-wearing, big rig-drivin’, CB radio-friendly Rhinestone Trucker.

It turns out that he and fellow trucker Tim Conway both want to marry “Kinky Pinky” (Roz Kelly), a foxy diner waitress.


“Just what I always wanted… four KISSes on the first date,” jokes Lynde when he finally meets KISS, after they’ve lip-synched “Detroit Rock City” (“I got to laugh ’cause I know I’m gonna die… DIE!”).

Then, for his second wish, he’s whisked away to the Saharan Desert where Tim Conway is a Foreign Legion scout sent in to save Florence Henderson from Lynde, now a “very chic sheik” named Florence of Arabia.

Lynde’s third wish (other than hoping KISS are finished making all that noise) finds Lynde and the witch sisters in a Hollywood discoteque, where Henderson sings a disco-fied version of “That Old Black Magic” while boogy-oogy-oogin’ in a sexy black sequin number.


Peter Criss then sings “Beth” (“A monster of a hit” we’re told) and KISS return for “King of the Night Time World,” then the entire cast do an electro-slide choreographed dance & sing-along to “Disco Baby,” a gender-neutral re-make of Johnny Taylor’s 1976 hit, “Disco Lady.”

This mid-’70s TV curio wasn’t available on DVD until 2007, when it was resurrected by Night Flight’s friend Arny Schorr’s S’more Entertainment Inc.

TV producer/head writer Bob Booker spent two years clearing the rights after finding the show’s original footage, which had long been thought lost in the ABC vaults.

Watch The Paul Lynde Halloween Special on Night Flight Plus!

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.
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  • Trustknow!

    I just watched his specials on Amazon Prime this dude was hilarious the 70s would be an awesome time to grow up.