“Good Night, Sweet Prince,” was the name of Gene Fowler’s book about John Barrymore but it is also a fitting farewell to another beloved actor — Lynn’s own Paul V. Floyd, who died last Saturday.
Floyd, 71, lived a life that brought him before cheering audiences and into television. His real starring role was friend, community booster and source of guidance to youth he mentored in Lynn and as a former superintendent of counselors at the Essex County House of Correction. The community will get a chance to remember Floyd and recall the joy he brought to so many people on Thursday during a celebration of his life at Parker Funeral Home from 3 to 6 p.m.
Floyd’s life story reads like the biographies of not one, but three people. Already an accomplished child actor in junior high school, Floyd went to Broadway — the one in New York City, not Lynn — where he played the lead child role in a performance of “The Music Man.”
He went into the play as an understudy and left the stage of New York’s Majestic Theater to roaring applause. Interviewed by former Item reporter Tom Dalton in 1993, Floyd described how he performed in “The Music Man” for a year and a half, living with his mother in a New York hotel with his father and brothers visiting on weekends.
Working in the heart of professional drama gave the boy actor opportunities to sing and dance at John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign events. Floyd appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. He had his own television show on Providence’s channel 12.
Health problems threw obstacles in Floyd’s way and he left Broadway to return to Lynn where he focused on music with the intensity he put into his acting and dancing. He initially learned to dance for physical therapy after being diagnosed with a congenital birth problem that kept him from bending his legs. An operation corrected the problem and he followed a doctor’s advice to dance as a way to strengthen his legs.
Floyd never strayed far from performing even as he made a career in county corrections, taught at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute and ran a painting and papering company in Lynn. A continuous desire to help others ran like a thread through his pursuits. He was a mentor to young people who ran afoul of the law and a justice of the peace, personally authoring each wedding ceremony.
He tried his hand at politics over the years and said he agreed to emcee the Item’s annual holiday sing-along in 2000 because, “I want people to leave happy.” Floyd lived that motto throughout his life. Childhood talent meant he could give even more of himself to his city and it offered chances for Floyd throughout his life to point young people in the direction of opportunity and success.
Floyd will be remembered tomorrow by all who knew him as someone who traveled well beyond Lynn to pursue opportunities but who returned to give back again and again to his city.
Good night, sweet prince and true friend of Lynn.