The following is an excerpt from Cathy Rudolph's book, "Paul Lynde: A Biography: His Life, His Love(s) and His Laughter," about the late comedian.

When I was seventeen years old, I had only one mission in my life: to meet Paul Lynde. I had taken down my Donny Osmond posters two years ago and had replaced them with the funniest and most handsome man I ever saw: Paul Lynde. I loved him best on The Hollywood Squares. There was something about his voice and humor that made me laugh more than anyone ever has. I loved the way he laughed, his wink, the mischievous look in his eyes when he said something kinky or dirty- like his answer to the following: "If the right part comes along, would George C. Scott pose nude?" Paul answered, "You mean he doesn't have the right part?" I had never seen or heard anyone who acted the way he did. I was just so attracted to everything about him. My crush on Paul intensified. I had to meet him. I prayed to God every day for this. I was so determined that I bet my high school teachers that this would happen before I graduated.

Nothing short of a miracle could explain what happened next. It was November 17, 1975 and I was in my hometown library in Levittown, Long Island, doing research on Paul. I came across a reference book of Broadway stars and it had a telephone number that said it was Paul Lynde's business number. As soon as I got home, I called the number (Los Angles, California) and I nearly collapsed when the man who answered was Paul Lynde. It turned out to be his HOME number!!!!

I said, "Paul Lynde?"

He said, "Yes?"

"This is Cathy Fitzgibbon. I am such a big fan of yours. I can't believe I am talking to you!"

"How did you get my home number?" he asked suspiciously. I explained one of the books at my home town library said it was his business number.

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He said, "No it's my home number. It's supposed to be unlisted. How dare that book do that!" I laughed and told him how I admired him and thought he was so funny and talented. I asked about his upcoming shows and was surprised that he was answering all my questions and didn't hang up. The conversation was flowing and I was on cloud nine. I was talking so fast, words spilled out of me barely letting him get a word in. I don't know what I was thinking back then, but I boldly blurted out:

"I know I'm asking a lot, but would you go to my senior prom with me?"

He said very seriously, "Yes, you're asking a lot."

I said, "No way?"

"Oh no WAAAAY," he answered in his famous nasal twang, laughing.

So I asked if he would want to meet me, and he gently said, "No dear, do you understand? I can't, if I did I would have to do that for all my fans, it's an absolute almost impossibility."

"Yeah," I said sadly, and then I asked him about his dog Harry MacAfee and he told me the dog had something on his paw and had to get an operation. I continued asking questions about his career. I asked Paul if he ever came to New York and he said yes. So I persisted,

"When are you gonna go, cause, like, you mean more to me than anybody in the world and I'd really want to meet you ... and I'm seventeen and I have gone so far out to try to meet you. I would have my father take me." Then there was the first silent moment-I held my breath.

"Well," Paul said very hesitantly, "I may be there Thanksgiving time, and uh, well, the only thing you can do is come by and say hello."

I couldn't believe this was happening. He told me to call him at the Pierre Hotel the week of the twenty-first and he would set something up. I thanked him and hung up. I screamed!

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I called the Pierre Hotel on November 22-this time trying to sound much calmer. He answered.

I said, "Hello Mr. Lynde, this is Cathy Fitzgibbon."

He said, "Oh hi Cathy."

"Did you get the get-well card I sent for Harry?" (his dog), I asked.

"Yes, I did and thank you. Harry's doing much better now. "

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Then I rambled, "Remember you said I could meet you for a picture and an autograph?" Well when would be a good time?"

He asked me how far I was from the city and if I had school. I said I didn't have to go to school, and he said, "No, you go to school." We arranged to meet at three in the afternoon. I did not go to school that day: I was way too excited.

On November 24, 1975, I took the train with my dad to New York City. I was wearing a new skirt and blouse and trying not to throw up all over it. We stepped out of the train, and the cold air helped ease the tsunami in my stomach. I held tight to the red rose I carried for Paul, and we headed to the Pierre Hotel. I waited anxiously in the lobby, holding the rose in my shaky hands.

The hotel was on fire!