The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976)

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special is a Halloween-themed television special starring Paul Lynde broadcast October 29, 1976 on ABC. It featured guest stars Margaret Hamilton in a reprisal of her role as the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. Also guest starring are Billie Hayes as Witchiepoo from H.R. Pufnstuf, Tim Conway, Roz Kelly, Florence Henderson, rock band Kiss, Billy Barty as Gallows the Butler, Betty White and, in an unbilled surprise appearance, Donny and Marie Osmond. The special aired only once.

In succession, Paul (as himself) begins singing to celebrate Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s Day but is interrupted each time when his housekeeper Margaret (Margaret Hamilton) tells him it is none of these and prods him into admitting it is a holiday he dreads, Halloween. In keeping with a promise to Margaret to enjoy the holiday, he sings a special version of his signature song “Kids” in which he actually claims to like them until a group of kids in devil costumes (among them Donny and Marie Osmond) torment him.

Margaret offers to take Paul away from the kids and drives him to Gloomsbury Manor, where her sister (Billie Hayes) resides. When they arrive, Paul realizes that both are witches, Wilhelmina Witchiepoo and the Wicked Witch of the West. Believing that they have been unjustly given a bad reputation, they commission Paul to serve as a public relations expert to improve their image. To seal the deal, they offer him three wishes.

In his first wish, Paul wishes to be a trucker and is reinvented as “Big Red,” a crass, red-haired, CB-slang-talking, rhinestone-studded trucker engaged to waitress “Kinky Pinky” Tuscadero (Roz Kelly). He soon finds that Pinky has two-timed him and has also promised another trucker (Tim Conway) her hand in marriage; the two, along with Pinky’s boss (Billy Barty), soon enter a battle to prove their worth to her, which Paul wins with his large wad of money from a movie advance.

He returns to the manor, and after KISS performs “Detroit Rock City” and Paul and the witches sit through a boring game of Monopoly, Paul offhandedly wishes he were in the Sahara Desert and is transformed into a “chic sheik” lusting after snow queen Lady Cecily Westinghouse (Florence Henderson). After a difficult seduction, just as he wins her over, his nemesis Seymour of the foreign legion (Conway) reveals the lady was bait for a trap and takes the sheik away. He trades a cockatoo for his freedom and comes back to her, a deal Seymour accepted because “it can get pretty lonely in the desert.”

Pleased with his two wishes, he offers his third wish to the witches, who wish to go to a disco. With Paul as host and Henderson as guest performer (“That Old Black Magic”), the manor turns into a swinging discotheque. Kiss returns and performs two more songs, “Beth” (Peter Criss solo at the piano) and “King of the Night Time World.” The show’s finale has the entire cast assembling as Paul and Pinky sing “Disco Baby.”

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