Last week Retro fondly remembered that spooky comedy “The Addams Family,” and today Retro pays tribute, of sorts, to its ghoulish rival “The Munsters.”
Though it only lasted two seasons (1964-66) on CBS, “The Munsters” has become the Everready Bunny of rerun heaven: It keeps going and going and going and going.
Whereas the “Addams Family” was truly a bizarre clan, the Munsters were sweet, normal, unassuming people who just happened to have green faces, bolts in their necks, slept in coffins and kept a pet dinosaur in the basement.
The Munsters lived at 1313 Mockingbird Lane in Mockingbird Heights, U.S.A., in a musty, cobwebbed Gothic mansion.
Fred Gwynne played Herman, the man of the household, a 7-foot-tall Frankenstein monster-type who worked in a menial position for the Gateman, Goodbury & Graves funeral home.
Herman was 150 years old and wore a 26-C shoe size. One of his eyes was blue, the other chartreuse. He was a big fan of Huckleberry Hound and was a member of the Pat Boone fan club.
Harvard graduate Gwynne began his career as a serious dramatic actor, making his film debut in the 1954 classic “On the Waterfront.” His first TV series was “Car 54 Where Are You” in which he played New York policeman Francis Muldoon to Joe E. Ross’ Gunther Toody.
Al Lewis, who played officer Leo Schnauser on “Car 54,” played Grandpa Munster, a 378-year-old dead ringer for Count Dracula. This rather foxy grandpa had been married 167 times and slept on a slab or hung by his toes from the rafters.
The veteran Lewis has appeared in such features as “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” and “Married to the Mob.”
Yvonne DeCarlo was Herman’s vampirish wife, Lily. DeCarlo began her film career in the 1940s and starred in numerous movies, including “Salome, Where She Danced,” the Alec Guinness comedy classic; “Captain’s Paradise,” and the current Sylvester Stallone comedy “Oscar.”
Butch Patrick was the Munsters’ 8-year-old son, Edward Wolfgang “Eddie” Munster, who resembled a young wolfman cub and slept in a coffin. His constant companion was a doll called Woof-Woof.
Patrick made tabloid headlines last December after pleading innocent to charges he robbed his limousine driver of $130 outside a suburban Chicago gas station. Patrick, whose real name is Patrick Lilley, had been in Chicago to make personal appearances at Halloween parties.
Billy Mumy of “Lost in Space” fame was originally offered the role of Eddie, but his parents turned it down because they disapproved of the makeup. Mumy later did a guest shot on the series, playing a brat on the “Come Back, Little Googie” episode.
The only normal Munster was niece Marilyn, whose appearance concerned the rest of the family. Beverly Owen originated this role but left the series in December 1964 to get married. Pat Priest played Marilyn for the remainder of the run.
And here is some Munster trivia: The Munster Koach was the family car--sort of a combination between a hot rod and a hearse.
Spot was the family’s pet dinosaur, Elmer was the pet snake and Igor was Grandpa’s pet bat.
Guest stars on the series included: Jane Withers, Pat Harrington, Richard Deacon, Gavin MacLeod, Harvey Korman, Paul Lynde, Barbara Babcock, Don Rickles, Dom DeLuise and even Bonnie Franklin, who eventually directed episodes of the syndicated series “The Munsters Today.”
In 1966--after the series was canceled--Universal released a feature-length comedy, “Munsters, Go Home!,” which followed the adventures of the Munsters in England.
And, in 1981, Fred Gwynne, Al Lewis and Yvonne DeCarlo reunited for the TV movie “The Munsters’ Revenge.”
Three years ago, the syndicated series “The Munsters Today,” premiered with John Shuck and Lee Merriwether as Herman and Lily.
“The Munsters” airs Sundays at 1:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. on KTLA and 4:05 a.m. Monday-Friday on TBS. “The Munsters Today” airs Sundays at 8 a.m. on KLTA.