Before the whole town was gay…

Salon interviews Steve Wilson and Joe Florenski, co-authors of the new book Center Square: The Paul Lynde Story. Strange to remember that despite the molasses-thick innuendo on ‘Hollywood Squares,’ Lynde was never quite ‘out’ in a public sense:

Did he ever officially come out, even to friends near the end?

J.F.: To his friends, sure he did. But he kept a fairly rigid line between his gay friends and his celebrity friends, rarely mixing the two except when he might bring a fling along on a “Squares” junket or the like. Publicly, he still kept himself in the closet, but just barely by the end. A 1976 article in People came the closest of any mainstream media in outing him. It featured pics of him with Stan Finesmith, his “chauffeur-bodyguard,” who, according to the article’s photo caption, also doubled as his “hair stylist and suite mate.”

‘Chauffeur/bodyguard/hair-stylist/suite-mate’ is a great euphemism. Someone should bring it back into common currency.