Paul Lynde may well have been the first homosexual man who most Americans willingly welcomed into their homes during less-than liberal times. Certainly, other gay performers predated him - Liberace, Rock Hudson - but Lynde was rare among Hollywood entertainers in that he did little to hide or deny his sexuality, even as he kept his public and private lives separate. Born and raised in Ohio, an overweight Lynde grew up assuming the mantle of class clown to curry favor with his classmates, making him a popular high school performer. In New York City by 1948, Lynde tried his hand at stand-up comedy before heading out on the summer stock circuit. On Broadway by the early 1950s, Lynde began to appear on television toward the end of the decade and cut a comedy album in 1960, but began making an impact on film. A reliable hysteric in such movies as "Son of Flubber" (1963) and "Bye Bye Birdie" (1963), Lynde crafted a particular comic persona for himself, composed of equal parts child-like wonder and bitchy cynicism that gave his performances a bracing edge, stamping a template for such latter day performers as Harvey Fierstein, Nathan Lane and Ricky Gervais. After memorable appearances as Uncle Arthur on "Bewitched" (1964-1972), and hilariously voicing the rat Templeton in the animated children's classic, "Charlotte's Web" (1973), Lynde attained the height of popularity as himself on the long-running TV game show, "Hollywood Squares" (NBC, 1966-1980), but left the program under a cloud of controversy in 1979. Plagued by alcohol and drug dependency, Paul Lynde died at a relatively young age, but left a snide, hilarious legacy on both the big and small screen that few performers of his era could match.