On the Small Screen: The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976)

Comet Over Hollywood is spotlighting Halloween episodes of classic television shows.

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special
Air Date: Oct. 29, 1976

In the 1960s and 1970s, TV specials were abundant. It seems that almost every TV star, major musician and their Great Aunt Pearl had their own special. From musical performances like “My Name is Barbra” (1965), a musical special with Barbra Streisand, to “Really Raquel” (1973), where Raquel Welch performed her nightclub show. Telly Savalas even had a 1976 musical specials called “Telly…Who Loves Ya Baby?”

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Many of these specials also focused on holidays, and performers such as Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Andy Williams always had a Christmas special. And thanks to Paul Lynde, Halloween wasn’t forgotten in the mix of Halloween specials.

Airing on ABC on Oct. 29, 1976, “The Paul Lynde Halloween Special” is a ridiculous, campy (but hilarious) special featuring Margaret Hamilton as his maid, Tim Conway, Billie Barty, Betty White, Florence Henderson, Billie Hayes, Roz Kelly, and…performances from the rock band KISS.

It begins with Lynde not sure what holiday it is, celebrating Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s Day, when Margaret Hamilton exasperatedly reminds him that it’s Halloween—a holiday that is close “to the scariest holiday of them all: Election Day.”

Lynde then sings a Halloween themed version of “Kids,” a song he originally performed in “Bye Bye Birdie.”

Hamilton then takes Lynde to her sister’s house, who is Witchiepoo (Hayes) from “H.R. Pufnstuf” and Hamilton turns into her “Wizard of Oz” (1939) character of the Wicked Witch of the West. Their butler is Billy Barty. Miss Halloween of 1976 (Betty White) also appears, disappointed that it’s Paul Lynde, because she wanted Paul Newman or another Paul but not Paul Lynde.

Billie Hayes and Margaret Hamilton with Paul Lynde

Billie Hayes and Margaret Hamilton with Paul Lynde

“She has a striking resemblance to Betty White, but then so many witches do,” Lynde says.

Betty White- Miss Halloween of 1976

Betty White- Miss Halloween of 1976

Lynde is at the mercy of the witches, who want his help in giving them a better image. They give Lynde three wishes and each wish lends itself to a random, unrelated musical special. His wishes include:
• Lynde becoming a Rhinestone Trucker where he and Tim Conway fight over marrying waitress Roz Kelly.
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• Lynde being a Valentino-like sheik in the dessert with Florence Henderson as his lover.
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• Going to a Hollywood disco with the witches—“The only place you can hustle and not get arrested.” Florence Henderson sings a disco version of “Old Black Magic” and everyone performs “Disco Baby.”
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The rock band KISS performs three songs in the special: “Detroit Rock City”, “Beth” and “King of the Night Time World.” The band does have some lines as Paul Lynde makes jokes, such as about their makeup.

KISS performing in the Paul Lyde Special

KISS performing in the Paul Lyde Special

My Review:
If you’re looking for something to watch on Halloween, skip “Nightmare Before Christmas,” Freddy Kruger, “Friday the 13th” and all that other drivel. “Paul Lynde’s Halloween Special” is the only Halloween special you need. It has witches and Jack-o-lanterns, but more importantly, it’s pretty funny. The jokes are punny and maybe eye roll worthy, but funny none-the-less. It’s unlike any other special you’ve ever watched and it stars Paul Lynde…need I really say more?

You can watch the full special online.

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