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Billy Eichner to Play Comedic Icon Paul Lynde In New Biopic

Billy Eichner on a red carpet.

Looks like actor and comedian Billy Eichner has his latest project queued up. The talent is helping to develop a new biopic titled Man in the Box, where Eichner will star as Paul Lynde. According to Deadline, Eichner is working with producer Tom McNulty and are currently building out the production team.

"There’s some overlap, between Paul and I, in that we both had our breakthrough in the industry, as performers, presenting a rather larger-than-life, flamboyant, gay persona on screen," Eicher said of the project. "Even though I was always very out, Paul was never technically out. But he was as out as you could be, at that time, in that he was clearly leaning into a flamboyant persona."

Lynde burst onto the national stage in Bye Bye Birdie but continued to build his name with projects like the much-loved Bewitched, as well as his position as the center square of Hollywood Squares. He became known for inserting gay jokes and a queer sensibility into roles and appearances without ever publicly identifying as such. Many described him as "barely-closeted."

Lynde also led the short-lived sitcom The Paul Lynde Show, where he played a suburban dad for one season.

"I think it’s a compelling story is because when we are presented with these biopics about gay people, we’re often seen as martyrs, victims," Eichner said. "We’re not seen as fully complex people, emotionally complicated, and as messy as anyone else. So, he was hypocritical, himself, in certain ways. He was offered, apparently, some gay roles, coming off of Hollywood Squares, that he didn’t want to take. He was scared to take those roles."

Lynde was also the center of controversy at times. Entertainment Weekly reports that he was a "heavy drinker and infamously cruel when intoxicated." This lead to public-intoxication arrests "and an incident where the actor launched into a drunken racist tirade at a Chicago Burger King." He died in 1982 at the age of 55. 

On season three of RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars, BenDeLaCreme chose to portray the icon for Snatch Game. She won the challenge with her portrayal.

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