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Herald Flashback

The Society Page

By Gene Mahoney(The real "Slim Shady")

Gemini Man

I’d believe in astrology if it wasn’t for one thing:

It’s a complete crock of shit. I know that may come as an unpleasant shock to some of you out there. I know that chicks dig a “sensitive” guy who’s into all that New-Agey bull, but hey, I’ve got to be honest. I’ve done scientific research on the subject.

Anyway, being born on June 13th supposedly makes me a Gemini. But I’m not going to write about Geminis (What they’re like, what turns them on and off, etc.) I’m going to write about being born on June 13th. Though I was born in New York City, I was born almost EXACTLY nine months after my parents’ honeymoon in San Francisco! To some people that would make me a native Californian. But I’m not going to write about when life begins and Roe V. Wade, etc.

No, folks. Like I said, I’m going to write about being born on June 13th. (Ha Ha, that’s good -- no, I wasn’t born on a Friday.)

It’s a lovely day to be born. It’s summertime, after all. Everyone wants their birthdays in the summer. My mother was born on New Year’s Eve so everyone would forget her birthday.

It’s almost as bad as being born on Christmas. Anyway, back to June 13th.

The only thing that really bothered me about being born on 6/13 was that whenever I looked at a calendar, nothing special happened on my birthday. Flag Day was June 14th. I think Citizenship Day was June 12th. On top of that, almost every single day of the year at least had someone important who was born on that day. June 13th was always blank. Always. Except for when this one person’s name was listed. I used to look at that name listed under June 13th on some calendars and think, THIS is the most important person born on my birthday?!

But now, thankfully, we have the Internet. I’ve done research and found a rather noteworthy person born on June 13th.

I’ll give you a hint:

“Think where man’s glory most begins and ends,

And I say my glory was I had such friends.”

You know who I’m writing about, don’t you?

No? Don’t feel bad. I wouldn’t have gotten it either.

I’m writing about the famous English poet William Butler Yeats, born on June 13, 1865 (exactly 100 years before I, Gene Mahoney, that other great wordsmith, was born.)

The other “famous” person I discovered who was born on 6/13 was Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, the governor of Texas from 1925-27 and 1933-35. Wow! A woman governor in the twenties and thirties. And in Texas yet! As Ma once said:

“English was good enough for Jesus Christ and it’s good enough for the children of Texas.”

I wonder why no feminist organization ever talks about Ma.

Brat-Packer Ally Sheedy was born on June 13th, too. She’s a few years older than me, but maybe I’ll try to interview her for next year’s birthday edition of this paper.

Anyway, until the Internet, the only noteworthy person I knew to be born on 6/13 was...

Hang on. Let’s find out who DIED on June 13th first.

“I am dying, with the help of many doctors.”

Who said that? It was Alexander the Great, the Macedonian conqueror, who kicked the bucket on June 13, 323 B.C.

The great German religious scholar Martin Buber died on the day I was born, June 13, 1965. I’m not going to attribute any particular quote to him because he said so much, and I had my fill of him in philosophy classes back in college.

Those are the only two famous people I could find who died on 6/13, so I guess I’m going to have to stop avoiding the issue and reveal who that person was whose name on those calendars haunted me. While other kids in school got to point out their birth dates and see “George Washington”, “Abraham Lincoln”, and “Albert Einstein”, I had to see HIS name next to my day.

Who is it? I’ll give you a hint:

Peter and Paul.

Is this person in the Bible?

Okay, it’s not the Bible. Here’s another hint:

Peter: Paul, can you get an elephant drunk?

Paul: Yes, but he still won’t go up to your apartment.

(Laughter, applause.)

Paul: (smirking) Uhhh...

The Center Square on Hollywood Squares with Peter Marshall -- Paul Lynde! Do you know how embarrassing this has been? It’s really given me a complex. Oh well, since the average boob on the street probably knows Paul Lynde and not W.B.Yeats, I guess I owe the guy a few words, so I can finally put this behind me.

Paul Lynde was born on June 13, 1926. He attended Northwestern University hoping to be trained as a serious actor, but audiences kept laughing at him so he switched to comedy. He began his career as a stand-up comic, basing his character on a hick-type from his hometown of Mount Vernon, Ohio. He moved to Broadway and Hollywood with big hits in “Bye, Bye Birdie” (both the play and film) and “Under the Yum Yum Tree”. He appeared as a guest in many sitcoms of the ‘60’s, like “The Flying Nun” and even got a reoccurring role in “Bewitched” as Uncle Arthur. When “Bewitched” was canceled in 1972, Paul starred in his own sitcom, unimaginatively titled “The Paul Lynde Show”.

If you thought “Bewitched” stretched the limits of plot credibility, check this out: Paul played a hard working heterosexual man with a wife and two kids! The show lasted merely one season. Why? Billy Ingram, founder of the web site (where I stole a lot of this information from) wrote that it (the Paul Lynde-is-a-straight-guy-with-a-family premise) was too much of a stretch for viewers. On a recent E! True Hollywood Story about Paul, some-guy-who-was-interviewed-whom-I-forgot-his-name put it another way:

“Watching Paul is like eating a chocolate mousse. One or two bites is enough. People couldn’t take him for a full half-hour every week.”
A lot of people had trouble taking Paul for a full half-hour a week in real life, too. The E! True Hollywood Story had numerous interviews with FRIENDS of his who couldn’t conceal what an obnoxious drunk the guy was. I recall stories told on the program about how he would make vicious, insulting comments to dinner guests at his place. About how one time he bought some new furniture and invited everyone over to see it, then shooed them out of the living room, fearful something would happen to it. They also recalled how he spent a big portion of his life just getting sloshed at gay bars; one-night stands with handsome hunks being the extent to most of his relationships.

It was not a flattering portrait, let me tell you (I guess that’s why they did a show on him.).

I could have guessed, though. My mother used to work security at JFK Airport back in New York. One day in ‘79 or ‘80, she told us about how, the night before, Paul Lynde had to be thrown off an airplane (before it took off) because he was so loaded. As I recall the way the sad tale was told to me, Paul was naked, with only a blanket wrapped around him. Security started to drag him off and he dropped the blanket, mooning everyone in First Class. Then, in the terminal, an extremely effeminate male flight attendant (Imagine that!) told Paul off. Apparently Paul thought the guy’s Tinkerbell routine wasn’t real; that the guy was mocking him. “I ought to slap you!” Paul told the “friendly skies” guy.

A brief scuffle ensued.

Anyway, despite The Paul Lynde Show’s failure, Paul was still a big star in TV Land, soon becoming the center square on the popular game show The Hollywood Squares. As Billy Ingram recounts on

"Lynde was fired from the long-running game show in 1979 for drinking too much and being belligerent on the set. On several occasions he had to be forcibly removed from the set because of his outrageous tirades, lashing out angrily at audience members and contestants.

Can you imagine being so drunk, you couldn’t answer three questions in a half-hour show? By that point they gave him all the jokes and answers anyway and he only had to show up for work one day a week."

Ingram went on to write how Lynde was replaced by Henny Youngman, and with the decline of game shows and variety programs, work for Paul was drying up.

On a positive note, Paul decided to dry up, too. According to the E! program, one day Paul quit drinking, cold turkey, and soon became a much more cheerful, considerate human being. Needless to say, the friends they interviewed on the show welcomed the change. However, Paul’s clean and sober lifestyle didn’t last for long. On January 11, 1982, Lynde was found dead in his West Hollywood home, the victim of a heart attack.

I recall what one of his friends they interviewed for the show said (I think it was the chocolate mousse guy).

It went something like this:

“I couldn’t believe it. Paul finally gets his life together and then dies of a heart attack.”

That sounds sad. However,’s Ingram has a different take on it:
“In 1982, I was doing trade ads for minor celebrities and one of our clients was an up-and-coming male model. This was a time (let’s face it) when male model meant male prostitute. Anyway, this guy comes in to look at the ad I’d done for him and he shows me a check he got the previous night made out for a thousand dollars - signed by Paul Lynde.

It was pretty clear to me what the money was for - in fact he came right out and told me it was for having sex with the comedian! He was really proud of himself.

A week later, on Monday, January 11, 1982, Paul Lynde was found dead in his West Hollywood home, in bed naked with a bottle of “Poppers” (Amyl Nitrate inhalant used to enhance sex) in his hand. I was told he had a heart attack on Saturday night while having sex with someone who just walked out of the Beverly Hills home when the seizure happened, without even bothering to call 911.

Was Lynde’s ‘guest’ that night the male prostitute I talked with earlier in the week? I suspect it was. That guy eventually went on to become a very well-known GQ fashion model of the late-eighties and early-nineties.”

Another uplifting story from Tinseltown.###

See more Paul Lynde:

All contents © 2008 by Gene Mahoney