Herman and Grandpa Were Already Familiar
Before they landed two of the show’s major roles, Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis co-starred together in the American sitcom “Car 54, Where are You?,” which aired on NBC from 1961 to 1963. The chemistry that Gwynne and Lewis built during their previous work on that show was truly evident later on the set of “The Munsters.”
In 1962, “Car 54, Where are You?” was awarded an Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy and received a nomination for Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Comedy and at the same time an Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy. Both Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis were instrumental to the show’s success.
The Raven’s Two Voices
Robert Francis Hastings was an American radio, film, and TV actor who began his early path to show business as a boy singer on various radio shows such as “Doug Gray’s Singing Gang” and “Coast to Coast on a Bus.” Hastings also did voice-over work for various animated cartoons. The multi-talented actor was notable for his depiction of the irritating suck-up character, Lt. Elroy Carpenter, in the movie “McHale’s Navy.”
He also did additional voice-over work as a substitute for Mel Blanc, who played the main voice of The Raven on “The Munsters.” Apparently, Blanc was overly preoccupied with the numerous different voice acting stints that he worked on during the time. It’s hard to condemn the man, though, as it made perfect sense to voice the popular Bugs Bunny over a raven that suddenly comes out from a clock for just two or three seconds on every episode.
Herman and Lily Shared a Bed
Apparently, the Cleavers didn’t like what they saw! The odd Frankenstein and vampire couple, Herman and Lily Munster, were making monster love on a common bed. The pairing was among the original TV couples to portray where their romance brewed, triggering protests from general viewers as a result. Those kinky monsters just couldn’t help themselves!
But even though the scene was still widely recognized as somewhat of a taboo in the country during the time, it still sparked a big controversy as the characters of Herman and Lily Munster were not actually human beings. This opened up the debate on whether or not it was acceptable for cartoon or non-human characters to share a bed on TV.
The Iconic Munster Ford T
Tom Daniel, the man behind the creation of The Munster Koach, was paid $200 by the show’s producers to come up with a design for the Munster family’s ride. The production team then called George Barris, an American designer and builder of numerous popular Hollywood custom cars, to start the construction of the Monster Koach at Barris Kustoms.
The Munster Koach was engineered to be a little longer than a 1926 Ford Model T chassis with a customized hearse body to boot. The result was a large 18-foot long automobile worthy for a clan of monsters. Obviously, it takes a big car if Herman Munster was the one getting behind the wheel! The iconic monster family car was featured in 20 episodes during the show’s two-year run.
Grandpa Munster’s ride, given the fitting name of Drag-U-La, was actually developed with the use of an authentic coffin. The coffin was smuggled to North Hollywood in secrecy as it was prohibited to purchase coffins without a corresponding death certificate. The casket was bought using cash and then placed free-standing on the funeral service at the cover of darkness so Barris and his team can safely grab it and start building the Drag-U-La.
Grandpa’s car was featured on the TV series for just one episode but was shown in the end credits of every episode of its second season. The Drag-U-La was likewise created by Tom Daniel, who was also the creator of the Munster Koach.
The Original Comicbook Vampires
Back in 1954, the Comics Code Authority prohibited comics from featuring vampires entirely. This was quite expected, however, given the stringent rules levied on all kinds of entertainment during the time. But Gold Key Comics though was an independent body from the Comics Code Authority, and this allowed them to print 16 issues of “The Munsters” comics between 1965 and 1968.
Gold Key Comics (also known as Whitman Comic) was an imprint of Western Publishing established for comic books that were sold to newsstands. The original issues of “The Munsters” comics also featured photo covers from the actual TV show. The first issue of the comics is still among Gold Key Comic’s highest prized publishing exploits until today.
Fred Gwynne Played Three Different Family Members
Frederick Hubbard Gwynne, or Fred Gwynne as he is widely known on TV, was a prominent American actor, artist, and author during the 60s. Gwynne was widely acclaimed for his performances in “Car 54, Where Are You?” and, of course, Herman Munster in “The Munsters.”
The famous 1960’s sitcom actor was also merited for three different roles throughout the complete 70 episodes of “The Munsters.” Together with his title role as Herman Munster, Gwynne also depicted Herman’s twin brother, Charlie, as well as a scorned creation of Doctor Frankenstein called Johann. The choice certainly highlighted Fred Gwynne’s exceptional skills in acting.
Grandpa Was Actually Younger Than Lily Munster
Al Lewis portrayed the character of Grandpa – Lily Munster’s father, an over-the-hill vampire who enjoyed talking about “good old days” – throughout the show’s run. But don’t allow the role to trick you regarding the actor’s actual age, though because, in reality, Lewis was, in fact, a year younger than Yvonne De Carlo, who played his character’s daughter in the show. Fred Gwynne was even younger than either of the two!
With that being said, it’s truly remarkable how excellent acting and a splash of Hollywood-level makeup work can make such a difference in depicting an older character. But then again, the extent of makeup applied on actors backstage was more than enough to erase any hint of age (and virtually almost anything you can imagine, for that matter!)
Why Was It Shot in Black and White?
The most popular theory regarding the show’s filming in black and white revolved around the studio’s intent on cutting down cost and unwillingness to pay a premium for shooting it in color. Additionally, there are those who argue that the studio feared that portraying the show in color would spook out the kids who watched them on TV.
While the pilot episode of “The Munsters” was filmed in color, the production team immediately resorted to black and white on the rest of the succeeding episodes. More so, the black and white setup brought some sense of nostalgia to the sitcom and bore much resemblance to the classic black and white monster movies that Universal Studios made in the past.
Beverley Owen Then (Episodes 1-13)
Marilyn Munster resided with the Munster family for the entire duration of the show for reasons that were never really explained in clarity. Marilyn’s vampire parents were revealed to have hailed from Transylvania. For the rest of the Munsters, though, her “typical” appearance was brought about by some type of horrible condition.
In reality, Beverley Owen was only able to portray the character of Marilyn Munster from episodes 1 to 13. After she left the TV series, Owen quit acting entirely. The American actress was cut off from “The Munsters” following a prolonged depression after she and her boyfriend broke up. Owen just couldn’t stop crying during the filming of the show, resulting in interruptions during its production.
Beverley Owen Now
Following a short stint with “The Munsters” during its initial episodes, Beverley Owen tied the knot with the show’s writer and producer, Joe Stone. In due course, Owen starred in the western “Bullet for a Badman” (1964) with the role of Audie Murphy. The actress would then appear for a couple of years on the TV series “Another World,” starting from 1971.
After her performance with “Another World,” Beverley Owen would retire from the TV screens and focus her career in theatre, performing with the Cambridge Theatre Company at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge, New York. She then mothered two beautiful girls and has obtained a master’s degree in 1989. The American actress sadly passed away at 81 years old in 2019.
It Was Unbearably Hot in the Herman Munster Costume
During his stint with The Munsters as Herman Munster, Fred Gwynne grew accustomed to wearing hair and makeup for long durations as required by the role. The costume he wore, though, was extremely hot and almost overheated his body and famously melted all his makeup.
It even got to the point that, while on set, an assistant would utilize an air compressor so cool air would flow inside his costume and give the actor a bit of relief from the scorching heat. But despite the help of an air compressor, the temperature was still severe. Undoubtedly, Fred Gwynne had to endure a lot so Herman Munster can come to life and bring joy to our TV screens.
The Same Guy Who Built the Frankenstein Set Built Grandpa’s Laboratory
Kenneth Strickfaden was in charge of special effects on the production crew of “The Munsters.” Strickfaden was also the one who created Grandpa’s laboratory and, at the same time, the set of the 1931 movie adaption of “Frankenstein.” Following the Frankenstein film, he established himself as one of the most prominent special effects specialists in Hollywood and developed sci-fi setups for more than a hundred movies.
In “The Munsters,” Grandpa’s laboratory utilized a number of similar props from the original laboratory of Dr. Frankenstein. And it proved to be just the right move, given the fact that Herman Munster was inspired by Frankenstein’s fictional monster character. It couldn’t get any more authentic than that!
Fred Gwynne Then
Even though he appeared large and frightening, Herman Munster was actually an adorable and gentle clown who couldn’t hurt a fly. Despite being the patriarch of the Munster monster family and centuries-old, he typically behaves like a young boy. Herman had a tendency to go into a tantrum which was depicted with an animal-like moan.
Herman Munster was also an affectionate and dedicated father and is quite prone to get lured into parlor tricks and feeble schemes. The character was portrayed by Fred Gwynne and is possibly the American actor’s most prominent role. There are even those who believe that Gwynne’s performance was the reason why “The Munsters” gained such a level of success.
Fred Gwynne Now
Following his performance as Herman Munster, Fred Gwynne maintained a career in acting until he passed away at 66 years old in 1993. Even after “The Munsters” was long over, the public still labeled the actor as Herman Munster, which became a source of constant struggle for Gwynne in landing an acting gig for a period of two years.
Fortunately for Fred Gwynne, after a lot of bad luck, he was chosen to perform in the TV production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Since then, Gwynne enjoyed a long and successful acting career, working in a considerable amount of shows, films, and mini-series. Some of his most notable appearances on TV after “The Munsters” include Judge Chamberlain Haller in the comedy film “My Cousin Vinny” and Jud Crandall in the hair-raising horror movie, “Pet Sematary.”
Yvonne De Carlo Then
Lily Munster is the mother of the Munster family. Lily nurtured a deep relationship with her niece Marilyn and considered her as a daughter. The Munster matriarch also served as the crucial beacon of reason in her family, continuously telling her husband Herman to avoid getting lured in on any more schemes.
Lily Munster was also the mediator between Herman and Grandpa throughout their numerous quarrels. She was hot-tempered as well, constantly becoming furious at Herman, despite the fact she was madly in love with him. Lily Munster was the complete inverse of Herman Munster’s character, and that is precisely what anyone would expect a mother of the Munster family would be.
Yvonne De Carlo Now
Following her work with “The Munsters,” Yvonne De Carlo remained active in her acting career until 1995. De Carlo, though, actually played Lily Munster in the later parts of her career as an actress. When the show was shut down, the Canadian-American actress returned as Lily for the Technicolor movie “Munsters, Go Home!”
After “The Munsters” ultimately reached its end, she starred in a couple of low-budget Western films, “Hostile guns” and “Arizona Bushwhackers.” De Carlo was also a supporting cast for the suspenseful film, “The Power.” Following the end of 1967, De Carlo shifted her focus to theatre play and worked in various musical plays like “Catch me if You Can” and “Little Me.” She made her last screen appearance on the TV film, “The Barefoot Executive.” This talented actress passed away in 2007 at the age of 84.
Al Lewis Then
Al Lewis was cast as Grandpa, who was Yvonne De Carlo’s father in “The Munsters.” Grandpa was also called Count Sam Dracula and operated a laboratory in the Munster home’s basement. The numerous spells and potions he conjured and concocted were typically principal to the show’s plotlines and generally led him and his son-in-law, Herman Munster, into deep trouble.
Grandpa was full of sarcasm and spent a great deal of his personal time throwing insults at Herman, even though the two monsters were, in fact, pretty close with each other. Generally speaking, the show was at its finest when Grandpa and Herman were brewing some kind of scheme together.
Al Lewis Now
AL Lewis began his career as an actor in 1953 with the television show “The Big Story.” Lewis also became a star on several other shows such as “Car 54, Where Are You?,” “Naked City,” and “Route 66.” Lewis’s first film role came with the movie “Pretty Boy Floyd” as Machine Gun Manny. After that, he landed various small roles in the movies “The World of Henry Orient,” “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?,” “They Might Be Giants,” and “Used Cars.”
For the American actor, being branded as a typecast didn’t bother him at all as it reserved him for various grandpa roles that became instrumental in forging his acting career. Sadly, the world will no longer see Al Lewis portraying any Grandpa character after he passed away due to natural causes in 2006. Lewis’s ashes were stored in his favorite cigar box.
Butch Patrick Then
Butch Patrick’s character, Eddie Munster, was your typical all-American boy who also happened to have werewolf and vampire blood coursing through his veins. While he looked more werewolf than a vampire in the TV series, Eddie’s “vampiric” traits would take over once he starts slumbering in a chest of drawers. He also goes to school, and besides his distinct widow’s peak, sharp ears, and a unique suit, he’s pretty much a normal kid.
Eddie Munster takes great pride in his father, Herman Munster, and constantly boasts about his dad’s capabilities and feats to his circle of friends. All through the show, Eddie would constantly volunteer his father to carry out valiant feats beyond his capacity, which is a staple subject in the series.
Butch Patrick Now
Butch Patrick has enjoyed arguably the most successful career in the entire cast of “The Munsters.” Following the show’s finale, Patrick worked on a considerable amount of roles on different shows as “I Dream of Jeannie,” “The Monkees,” and “Wonderful World of Color” from Walt Disney.
Starting from 1962 towards 1971, Butch Patrick managed to secure several roles in the television series “My Three Sons.” Patrick’s latest appearances on the TV screen were with 2015’s “Zombie Dream” and “Bite School,” where he portrayed characters named Butch in the two movies. Indeed, there’s no denying that the iconic character of Eddie Munster stayed with him throughout the rest of his career as an actor.
Pat Priest Then (Episodes 14-70)
After Beverley Owen was booted out from “The Munsters,” her character Marilyn Muster was continued by Pat Priest, who shared a remarkably strong physical resemblance with Owen. Following the show’s finale, Priest sustained her acting career with various small roles. The actress was cast on big-budget shows like “Mission: Impossible” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” She also portrayed a number of characters for one season of “Bewitched.”
Pat Priest’s final acting stint, though, came as a cameo with the 1995 television film “Here Come the Munsters.” The only movie roles that she ever landed throughout her career, however, were with “Looking for Love,” “Easy Come, Easy Go” with Elvis Presley, “The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant,” and “Some Call It Loving.” A priest called it quits during the ’80s and is currently in remission from lymphoma.
Pat Priest Was One Lucky Gal
“The Munsters”’ production team didn’t choose Pat Priest to fill the Marilyn role simply because of her acting abilities, even though she was undoubtedly capable as an actress. What happened was, besides Priest’s hair color, for which she had to be given a wig, the actress had precisely identical height and fit as Beverly Owen.
With that being said, Pat Priest’s close physical resemblance with Beverly Owen allowed the production team to do minor changes to the costume, saving them plenty of time and money in finding an appropriate replacement wardrobe. In addition to that, Priest was the daughter of theUnited States Treasurer at the time.
On the show, the raven appeared as a cuckoo bird that resided on the Munster’s home clock. It was an allusion to a poem from Edgar Allan Poe wherein a bird would regularly say the word “Nevermore.” The raven was voiced by Mel Blanc, who at the time was among the most celebrated voice actors in the history of the industry, successfully creating almost 500 unique voices for a long list of cartoons and animated movies.
From the hilarious Stone Age world of “The Flintstones” to the futuristic universe of “The Jetsons” and iconic cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny, Mel Blanc always had his hands full while working with “The Munsters” and long after it was concluded. Blanc died in 1989, but his voice continued to resonate in the world from various cartoons like the Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show.
The Munsters and Leave It To Beaver Were Neighbors
The house in which the Munster family called home was situated just down the street where the first home of America’s most wholesome family, the Cleavers, resided in the TV show “Leave It to Beaver.” As a matter of fact, the Munster house still appears on TV up until today, being featured in various episodes of the TV series “Desperate Housewives” and “Coach.”
The production team had to spend nearly $1,000,000 to turn the ordinary house into the Munster Mansion and is currently on exhibit on Universal City, California, at the Universal Studios theme park. The house also has a precise replica at Waxahachie, Texas.
The Munsters and The Addams Family’s Similarities- Just a Coincidence
“The Munsters” first premiered on CBS while “The Addams Family” first aired on ABC, both on the same day. A lot of viewers debated on whether or not either one of the shows tried to rip off the other. In reality, though, both shows were produced without any knowledge of what the other was working on. In the long run, “The Addams Family” ultimately became the victor on the TV screen. Nevertheless, “The Munsters” proved to be a revolutionary show in numerous regards.
Although the show only ran for a couple of seasons, it managed to live on with a fresh batch of audiences who discovered the show via syndication. In case you find yourself searching for a new late-night show to binge-watch, you might want to consider “The Munsters” as your next living room craze.
Was There a Pilot Episode?
Only a handful of people are truly aware of the existence of a pilot episode of “The Munsters.” You will find plenty of fascinating facts surrounding the show, and there are plenty of distinctions between the pilot version and the actual show. First off, the pilot version was filmed in color and was never broadcasted on TV.
While the producers of “The Munsters” ultimately opted to film the show in black and white to cut costs, it eventually worked out for the best. Surprisingly, the two characters of Ernest and Lily were portrayed by different actors instead of Fred Gwynne and Yvonne De Carlo, and Lily’s first name was Phoebe in the show’s pilot episode.
The Original Cast Were Not the First Choices
Grandpa, Eddie Munster, and Herman Munster, played by Al Lewis, Butch Patrick, and Fred Gwynne, respectively, weren’t what the producers had in mind at the start. As it happened, Bert Lahr, the actor who played the lion in the movie “Wizard of Oz,” was the first choice for the role of Grandpa.
Billy Mumy was the first choice for the role of Eddie Munster, and renowned suspense and Western film actor John Carradine was in the running for Herman Munster. Nevertheless, it’s probably safe to say that everyone is happy with how things transpired in the end. If the producers stuck on their first choices, the show would certainly be different from the one that we have known and grown to love today.
Fred Gwynne Then
During his college days, Fred Gwynne studied at the famed Harvard University and worked as a cartoonist and head of the school’s popular Lampoon at the same time. The Lampoon’s writers and staff had a well-known reputation of being rough and rowdy, which comes to no surprise why Gwynne became the leader of the organization.
The writers of Lampoon later began the National Lampoon, which went on to become among the most recognized comedy magazines. The National Lampoon would soon make its way to various platforms, including stand-up comedies, books, TV shows, records, and even films. Some of the most notable comedians in recent times would walk the same path that Gwynne took.
The Munster Family in a Cheerios Commercial
Where you want to believe it or not, “The Munsters” became such a hit and beloved show by its audiences that the family sitcom was requested to appear in a Cheerios commercial. The whole commercial was grounded on iconic themes throughout different episodes of the show, each one linking back to the brand Cheerios.
As a matter of fact, it was recounted by Butch Patrick himself with his character Eddie Munster who stated that “Daddy said they’re the best thing since bat wings!” It’s truly a creative marketing ploy by Cheerios as the show was extremely popular with the younger population, who are more likely to indulge in cereal products compared to adults.
The Munster in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
One other proof of the show’s immense popularity was made apparent in 1964 when the benign Munster family was asked to join in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. In case you’re not already aware of it, the parade is somewhat of an important event, and they simply just don’t invite anyone or any name to be part of it.
Even though Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis were the only ones invited to the parade, the Grandpa and son-in-law monster tandem rode down the street aboard the iconic Munster Koach. Without a doubt, their appearance drew smiles on the faces of plenty of children who were waiting to witness their favorite friendly monsters up close and personal, plus aboard the Koach as an extra treat!
The Munster’s #1 Fans
One of the show’s biggest fans, Charles and Sandra McKee from Waxahachie, Texas, was so drawn into “The Munsters” that when it was time to build their dream home, they decided to create an exact replica of the Munster family’s original mansion.
The house they built was nearly a spot-on clone of the Munster mansion and even mimicked its crooked weathervane and a grand staircase that opened up. And every time Halloween arrived, the McKee couple would hold a big party that was intended for charity. If Charles and Sandra McKee doesn’t take the #1 spot of “The Munsters” list of biggest fans, we have the right to know who was chosen over them and why.
Prior to the show’s termination after just a couple of seasons, the cast of “The Munsters” filmed a television movie called “Munster, Go Home!” In the movie, Herman Munster inherited a considerable amount of wealth as well as a mansion that he got from an uncle who lived as an Earl in England.
After Herman was given the massive fortune, the Munster family would then travel to the United Kingdom only to uncover a counterfeiting scheme. TV viewers appreciated the movie since it didn’t attempt to do too much nor strayed away from the show’s original theme. It was simply longer and had a more complex plot, and this time was shot in color!
The Munsters Release Merchandise
Aside from appearing in television commercials, partaking in parades, and enjoying a made-for-TV film, the Munsters’ popularity went on even further. The friendly monster family that kids have grown to love got their own line of merchandise, including board games, coloring books, t-shirts, trivia card games, dolls, replicas of the Munster’s house, and plenty more.
Nowadays, this Munster merchandise comes at a high price, especially from collectors across the country, as only a limited number of the products were ever manufactured. Aside from the merchandise, ABC also made an animated pilot feature in 1973 titled The Mini-Munsters, which included Al Lewis as the voice of Grandpa one more time.
The People Weren’t Done with the Munsters
Even though “The Munsters” had been shut down, there were plenty of attempts made to revive the beloved monster family, albeit in different forms, including a move and even an animated series. In 1981, a TV reunion was created. Titled “The Munsters Revenge,” it featured Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, and Al Lewis performing their actual characters.
Later on, in 1998, the show returned to the TV screen, this time as “The Munsters Today,” which ran for a total of 72 episodes and three seasons. Furthermore, there were two additional television movies made in 1995 and 1996 titled “Here Come the Munsters” and “The Munsters’ Scary Christmas.”
Grandpa Munster’s Restaurant
Prior to becoming a political activist, Al Lewis pursued a different path – food. Lewis started a restaurant called Grampa’s Bella Gente in Greenwich Village in 1987, which served Italian dishes for a total of six years until 1993. Grampa’s Bella Gente drew in a flock of customers, the majority of whom were real fans of “The Munsters.”
Fans of the show would gather around on the Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village with the hopes of seeing Al Lewis in person, even just for a glimpse. Fred Gwynne supported his Munsters’ co-star and friend in real life on his new project and even volunteered to draw the logo of his restaurant. Gwynne eventually came up with a drawing that featured Lewis’s side profile wearing his iconic Grandpa costume.
Al Lewis: Political Activist by Day, Vampire by Night
After engaging in the restaurant business, which turned out to be a big success, by the way, Al Lewis would eventually enter into the world of politics. In 1998, Lewis ran for Governor of New York under the Green Party versus George Pataki, who was the incumbent Governor of New York during the time. The American actor-turned-politician ended up with a total of 52,000 votes, which amounted to roughly 1% of the total votes of that election.
Even though Al Lewis lost in the electoral campaign, the event did not prevent the famed actor from pushing his political views. Following his defeat in the elections, Lewis would continue his work as a strong advocate for prison reform, the legalization of marijuana in the United States, and putting a stop to police brutality.
The Leave It to Beaver and The Munsters’ Connection
If you really put some thought into it, outside the fact that all of The Munsters’ characters belonged to a clan of monsters, you won’t find any kind of stark contrast with “The Munsters” and “Leave it to Beaver.” The two television shows revolved around working-class families who had normal day-to-day family problems. A lot of this had to do with the fact that both shows shared the same producers.
The two writers who made the script of “Leave it to Beaver” and “The Munsters” followed the mantra, “write what you know.” Recognizing that they both had families and were knowledgeable of the real intricacies and meaning of raising a family, both series plots conformed to their lives as family men and used their own experiences as inspiration for the making of both shows… with a handful of apparent distinctions of course.
Behind the Munster Characters
Universal Television held full ownership of “The Munsters,” which meant that Universal Studios enjoyed the same exclusive rights to the show. During that time, Universal Studios also had ownership rights of many iconic monsters in movies, including “Dracula,” “Wolf Man,” and “Frankenstein.” The management of CBS recognized an advantage that they enjoyed over “The Addams Family,” which was the ability to exploit Universal Studios’ monsters without any cost.
With that being said, “The Munsters” always topped “The Addams Family” in viewership numbers since their monster characters were more familiar to the general audience, as opposed to the latter, which had to create their own monsters from scratch.
Gwynne and Lewis Weren’t Sure About De Carlo
Upon learning the news that Yvonne De Carlo would take over the role of Lily Munster, both Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis weren’t happy with it at all. The two actors had no clue who De Carlo was as an actress and person except for her status as one of Hollywood’s glamor queens.
Gwynne and Lewis were convinced that De Carlo would not be able to complement their distinct style of acting, which revolved more on comedy as opposed to drama. Additionally, they were troubled with the prospect that the American-Canadian actress might belittle them as she was widely recognized as a movie star during the time. Obviously, all of their worries were put to rest following her inclusion as a staple member of the show’s cast
De Carlos’ On and Off Screen Behavior Was Drastically Different
As it turned out, once the camera started rolling, Yvonne De Carlo was a true acting virtuoso. De Carlo portrayed the character of Lily Munster flawlessly, grasped the show’s distinct humor, and enjoyed outstanding chemistry with the rest of the show’s characters.
Once the camera stopped rolling, though, Yvonne De Carlo would famously isolate herself from everyone else inside her trailer. Additionally, the actress was infamous for making a bad habit out of delaying the show’s production through her constant, last minute and pointless requests to change her hair, makeup, and nails, which naturally irritated everyone on the set. Overall, De Carlo worked with five different hairdressers throughout the show’s two-year run.
The Donna Reed Show Was Referenced in “The Munsters”
Remember the “Donna Reed Show” from 1958? Remember the opening credits? Let us jog your memory: Donna sees her children off to school and her husband off to work, displaying a lovely family morning routine. Ring any bells? That’s because the opening credits of the first season of “The Munsters” are almost identical.
Featuring Lily Munster greeting everyone in her family as they go off to start their day, the similarities are uncanny. The second season opening is different and doesn’t appear to be inspired by any specific show.
Over the years, there have been loads of family-centered comedy shows, all of which brought some great father figured to our screen. But Herman Munster is definitely one of the best TV dads out there. He was even officially ranked for it in 2004.
Yes, you are reading correctly. In 2004, TV Guide listed the top 50 TV dads of all time, and the lovely Herman came in at #19!
Drag-U-La’s Final Resting Place
Since creating Drag-U-La was such an ordeal, there could only be one. This means it had to be involved in some pretty epic filming adventures. After the show wrapped, the dark funeral car was stationed at different places, one of which was being suspended from the ceiling in Atlantic City in Planet Hollywood.
While there was only one car used for the show, replicas of it have been built after “The Munsters” were off the air. One of the restorations is currently in Florida, somewhere around Orlando.
Gwynne’s Makeup Journey
Special effects makeup has brought on some of the most iconic characters in pop culture, like the Grinch, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Norbit. There is so much that goes into creating such a distinct face and body, and the work done on Fred Gwynne was no different.
Getting into character meant that Gwynne’s had to wear foam-rubber paddings under his outer suit to create his huge form. All this padding meant that he’d sweat—a lot. In fact, he has even lost some weight due to all this sweating. In order to hydrate, he would consume insane amounts of lemonade while on set.
Lily Munster is a vampire. That much we know. Her father, granted, is also a vampire. This makes their lineage pretty easy to track — Transilvania, Romania, although the place is referred to a little differently in the show.
Whenever Grandpa talks about the good old days (which is quite often), he refers to his birthplace as the Holy Roman Empire. You know, the same Holy Roman Empire where Dracula was born.
Gwynne Wanted to Do His Own Stunts
When Fred Gwynne started working on “The Munsters,” he did his own stunts. For a while, it worked well, and then one stunt ended in his headpiece breaking off after he fell on his back.
The studio then got a professional stuntman named Bill Foster to do anything similar in the future. Interestingly, the two met when Bill, who was a Universal Studios security guard at the time, saw Fred trying to play the guitar. Foster, who was also a musician, then offered to give him some lessons.
The Munsters Had Quite a Family Tree
Grandpa’s character is commonly known as “Grandpa Munster,” but when you think about it, it doesn’t make much sense. If Lily Munster had taken her husband’s name after they got married, then this means she wasn’t a Munster by birth, and therefore, her father would have a different surname too!
As it turns out, Lily’s maiden name (and her father’s surname, obviously) is Dracula. Herman Munster got his last name from his adoptive father, whom we’ve never seen on the show. It’s possible that Lily’s niece, Marylin, took on the last name as well after the Munsters adopted her.
Just a Head
It only fitted for a Munster child to keep a dragon as a pet. Little Eddie Munster had a pet dragon, fondly remembered as Spot. Viewers, however, only ever saw the dragon’s head (and sometimes tail) breathing fire under the opening staircase.
The reason why we never saw the dragon’s full body was that it was never made. The 2012 floppy attempt at a reboot, “Mockingbird Lane,” actually did show a full-bodied Spot in all its glory.
How Do You Bark In German?
“The Munsters” wasn’t only a hit in the United States. As it turns out, “The Munsters” movie was also aired in Germany. Granted, some adjustments had to be made when dubbing the show into a different language.
One such adjustment was changing Woof-Woof’s name. For those of you who don’t remember, Woof-Woof was Eddie’s toy wolf. In the German version of the film, however, the stuffed wolf was named Wumpy Pumpy.
Happy Birthday, Herman!
Herman Munster’s driver’s license shows that he was born on July 21, 1815, which would have made him about 150 years old at the time when the first episode was aired.
Those of you who are interested in astronomy might also recognize this date as the summer solstice. For those of you who aren’t so interested in astronomy — the summer solstice is the day with the longest daylight time of the year. Pretty ironic, considering Herman married a vampire who doesn’t do well with sunlight!