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“I’ll take Paul Lynde to win!!”

July 2, 2009

hollywood squares

It was a game show that prided itself on being rather progressive.  It pushed boundaries in terms of it’s risque entendres  that served as answers.   And with the exception of a few references to masturbation which I didn’t get,  The Hollywood Squares made me laugh…even as a kid. 


It began as a black and white pilot on  CBS in April of 1965.   That pilot was hosted by Miss America pageant host, Bert Parks and the original seats in all nine squares were kept warm by Cliff Arquette as his comedy pecharlie weaverrsona and alter ego,  Charley Weaver.   (Trivia:  Cliff is the grandfather of Roseanne Arquette of “Desperately Seeking Susan” fame and her sister, Patricia Arquette, of  TV’s “Medium”)   Wally Cox was there, as was gravelly voice Rose Marie, her Dick Van Dyke Show co-star, Morey Amsterdam; Jim Backus (the voice of Mr. Magoo and of course, Thurston Howell, III from “Gilligan’s Island, 1960’s B-lister, Abby Dalton;  Canadian warbler, Gisele Mackenzie,;50’s TV game show host and walking ashtray, the painfully thin and pointy looking, Robert Q. Lewis and actress, Vera Miles.  

CBS shot a second pilot hosted by someone named, Sandy Baron, but chose not to pick up the show’s option with either host.    It hung around in Goodson/Toddman limbo for about a year or so before it was snatched up by NBC.     Network execs chose Peter Marshall as host, a job he held for fifteen years until 1981. During most of its daytime run, it dominated the ratings until 1976.

And Miss Paul Lynde occupied the Center Square and became a good reason why so many people tuned in.

While The Hollywood Squareswas a legitimate game show, the premise of the game largely acted as the background for the show’s comedy in the form of the zinger/joke answers.  Contrary to popular misconception, Paul Lynde’s often hilarious one liner responses were NOT extemporaneous, out-of-the blue gems of uncompromised hilarity.    The show’s writers gave the lines to the stars prior to their “real” answers. The stars were also given question subjects and plausible incorrect (“bluff”) answers prior to the show.     So yes, they were briefed before production and that helped them with bluff answers, but they were otherwise hearing the actual questions as they were  asked on air.

I figured the the stars were given pithy responses before hand, because let’s face it,  John Davidson, Vincent Price and Julie Newmar weren’t exactly known for their comedic prowess.

And that’s what made this show so funny.   Unfunny people were funny.  

Read on to remember some hoot from many, many years ago.   Some of it is funnier than you remember.

Q.  Paul, what is a good reason for pounding meat?
A.  Paul Lynde:  Loneliness!

Q. Do female frogs croak? 
A. Paul Lynde: If you hold their little heads under water long enough. 

Q. If you’re going to make a parachute jump, at least how high should you be
A. Charley Weaver: Three days of steady drinking should do it. 

Q. True or False, a pea can last as long as 5,000 years. 
A. George Gobel: Boy, it sure seems that way sometimes. 

Q. You’ve been having trouble going to sleep. Are you probably a man or a woman? 
A. Don Knotts: That’s what’s been keeping me awake. 

Q. According to Cosmopolitan, if you meet a stranger at a party and you think that he is attractive, is it okay to come out and ask him if he’s married? 
A.. Rose Marie: No wait until morning. 

Q. Which of your five senses tends to diminish, as you get older? 
A. Charley Weaver: My sense of decency.. 

Q. In Hawaiian, does it take more than three words to say ‘I Love You’? 
A. Vincent Price: No, you can also say it with a pineapple and a twenty.. 

Q. What are ‘Do It,’ ‘I Can Help,’ and ‘I Can’t Get Enough’? 

A. George Gobel: I don’t know, but it’s coming from the next apartment. 

Q. As you grow older, do you tend to gesture more or less with your hands while talking? 
A. Rose Marie: You ask me one more growing old question Peter, and I’ll give you a gesture you’ll never forget. 

Q. Paul, why do Hell’s Angels wear leather? 
A. Paul Lynde: Because chiffon wrinkles too easily. 

Q. Charley, you’ve just decided to grow strawberries. Are you going to get any during the first year? 
A.. Charley Weaver: Of course not, I’m too busy growing strawberries. 

Q. In bowling, what’s a perfect score? 
A. Rose Marie: Ralph, the pin boy.  

Q. It is considered in bad taste to discuss two subjects at nudist camps. One is politics, what is the other? 
A. Paul Lynde: Tape measures.. 

Q. During a tornado, are you safer in the bedroom or in the closet? 
A. Rose Marie: Unfortunately Peter, I’m always safe in the bedroom. 

Q. Can boys join the Camp Fire Girls? 
A. Marty Allen: Only after lights out. 

Q. When you pat a dog on its head he will wag his tail. What will a goose do? 
A. Paul Lynde: Make him bark?  

Q. If you were pregnant for two years, what would you give birth to? 
A. Paul Lynde: Whatever it is, it would never be afraid of the dark.. 

Q. According to Ann Landers, is there anything wrong with getting into the habit of kissing a lot of people? 
A. Charley Weaver: It got me out of the army. 

Q. It is the most abused and neglected part of your body, what is it? 
A. Paul Lynde: Mine may be abused, but it certainly isn’t neglected. 

Q. Back in the old days, when Great Grandpa put horseradish on his head, what was he trying to do? 
A. George Gobel: Get it in his mouth. 

Q. Who stays pregnant for a longer period of time, your wife or your elephant? 
A. Paul Lynde: Who told you about my elephant? 

Q. When a couple have a baby, who is responsible for its sex? 
A. Charley Weaver: I’ll lend him the car, the rest is up to him 

Q. Jackie Gleason recently revealed that he firmly believes in them and has actually seen them on at least two occasions. What are they? 
A. Charley Weaver: His feet. 

Q. According to Ann Landers, what are two things you should never do in bed? 
A. Paul Lynde: Point and laugh


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