For actor, comic, writer, voice artist, producer, and high-rise resident Michael Airington, the world of entertainment began at a young age when he landed an opening act for Mel Tillis, and later opened for Brenda Lee, Tony Martin, John Denver, Jackie Vernon and the legendary Rosemary Clooney.
“Comedy is exaggerated realism. It can be stretched to the almost ludicrous, but it must always be believable.” Paul Lynde
“I never had a job outside the entertainment world. In 1981, I was the youngest comedian in America doing opening acts for country singer Mel Tillis and Dotty West. Wayne Newton came up to me at a Christmas party at Bally’s and asked how he knew me. I said I was the 15-year-old kid doing all the opening acts at Frontier Hotel.” -Michael Airington
Airington’s career later evolved into TV and voiceover work. He took on guest roles on shows like The Suite Life on Deck with Disney Channel and Archie Bunker’s Place on CBS. He was further recognized for his roles in General Hospital on ABC, The Jeffersons on CBS, One Day at a Time on CBS, and became a spokesperson for Mattel Toys. He was also notable for his character as Ester Goldberg. Airington’s alter ego character quickly gained a large online fan base, performed a popular cabaret performance in Washington D.C., and became the official spokesperson for Zannel.com at the Sundance Film festival. Fans most notably recall Ester from his informative comedy The Weekly Wrap, which ran for 63 episodes.
In 2003, Airington’s love for comedy took on a different spin after a visit to New York to see Frank Gorshin do his George Burns show, Say Good Night, Gracie, in New York. “I was sitting in the back row of the Helen Hayes Theatre and I said to myself, I could do this with Paul Lynde.” The idea was born and Airington decided to perform as legendary comedian Paul Lynde. “There was something unique about Paul I liked, he didn’t care and pushed boundaries.” Paul Lynde, who is remembered as one of America’s most honored comedians was sought out star on prime network television during the ‘60s and ‘70s.
He was most recognized as the center square on The Hollywood Squares, and for starring in the Broadway and film version of Bye Bye Birdie, and Uncle Arthur in Bewitched. “I think a lot of us related to Paul right away because he was so out there. At the same time, he was one of the biggest stars on TV and one of the first celebrities on the cover of People magazine,” noted Airington.
“As many impressions as I did, it just seemed like Paul was one that everybody loved the most.” Michael Airington
Airington took his critically acclaimed one-man show from Palm Springs to San Diego and Los Angeles with sold-out tickets and grew into the role over the past 13 years. He recently performed at the Bally’s Hotel here in Las Vegas and is currently looking for a new venue to make it a permanent home.
Over the years, friends of Paul Lynde, such as Peter Marshall, Kaye Ballard, Karen Valentine, and Jan Forbes, have helped Airington perfect the character and bring Lynde back to life. The late actor’s estate also gave Airington full approval and cooperation to do the show. “I did the show for the baby boomers, but the millennials were coming in and just loving the show,” said Airington.
“I never forgot when Mel Tillis pulled me aside at Frontier Hotel one night and said, ‘Michael make me a promise- you will help people in this business and 98 percent will take advantage of you, but that 2 percent will appreciate it and that’s what’s important.’” Michael Airington continues to spark up a smile to all those who cross his path from his acting to his impersonations. His multitalented character always leaves his audience well entertained. In the end, “I love making people laugh,” noted Airington.
Photos by Denise Truscello