9/14/2007

 

I Love Munsters!

I'm already in the mood for Halloween. I think it's partially due to the fact that in my unemployment, I discovered recently that at 2pm on TV Land is The Munsters followed by The Aadams Family. I've never been too into the dry Aadams bunch, but I'd forgotten how much I loved those kooky Munsters. Yvonne De Carlo as Lilian was the original goth chick and poor Marilyn, the "normal" cousin is pitied by the rest of the family for being so ugly. The plots might not always be deep, but the writing is witty and the characters are loveable.

Some interesting Munsters trivia from Wikipedia: Lily was not in the original pilot episode of The Munsters. Instead, Herman is married to a much more gothic-looking wife named Phoebe, played by Joan Marshall. The producers scrapped the Phoebe character after deciding she seemed almost an exact double of the Morticia Addams character on The Addams Family. Lily appeared in the second pilot and all other episodes. For the role, Yvonne de Carlo had to wear a wig that weighed 20 pounds (9kg). Fred Gwynne (Herman) wore so much padding and so many layers of clothes that despite drinking gallons of lemonade and taking salt tablets between takes and using an air hose between his neck and costume, he sweated so much that he continuously lost weight, becoming dangerously thin. Portrayed by Al Lewis, Grampa's given name is said to be Sam Dracula. Lewis ran as Green Party candidate for Governor of New York in 1998. In that race he sought to be listed on the ballot as “Grandpa Al Lewis”, arguing that he was most widely known by that name. His request was rejected by the Board of Elections, a decision upheld in court against his challenge. Despite this setback, he achieved one of his campaign objectives. His total of 52,533 votes exceeded the threshold of votes set by New York law (50,000), and hence guaranteed the Green Party of New York an automatic ballot line for the next four years. He said that, with “no [political] machine and no money” backing him, the likelihood of winning the governorship would be “like climbing Mount Everest barefooted”. Marilyn was originally played by Beverley Owen who was 30 years old at the time. She was meant to be a copy of Marilyn Monroe (similar in name to Marilyn Munster) and had to wear a blonde wig for the part. According to Al Lewis in a 2001 interview with Pittsburgh radio's Doug Hoerth, Owen was having relationship problems in that she missed her boyfriend who was 3,000 miles away (from Los Angeles) in New York City. After Lewis and Fred Gwynne petitioned the studio, the actress was let go. The role was taken over in episode 14 by Pat Priest after Owen left to marry Jon Stone. Pat Priest looked enough like Beverley Owen that many never even noticed that the role was played by another actress. It also helped the studio in that she was Owen's size and so fit into her wardrobe.

In the spring of 2001, Sandra and Charles McKee of Waxahachie, Texas began construction of a fully livable recreation of the Munster home, inside and out. With initial construction completed in 2002, cast alumni Al Lewis and Butch Patrick appeared at the public grand opening. Lewis exclaimed, with tears in his eyes, "This brings back warm memories." The house comes equipped with a grand staircase (which opens up to reveal Spot), a rotating suit of armor, trap doors, secret passages, Grandpa's electric chair, a pipe organ, raven cuckoo clock, a crooked bat weather vane on the roof and even a dungeon complete with trap door. Since then, the McKees have opened their private home to the public for two nights each year on the weekend of Halloween. Since the death of Lewis, Pat Priest has returned to appear multiple times. The Munster Mansion Halloween Bash each year selects a local charity and donates all proceeds from the event.

Their pets:

The inevitable reunion special (video below): The Munsters' Revenge (1981), a made-for-TV movie. The owner of a museum with a Munsters exhibit makes robots of Herman and Grandpa and uses them to rob a bank. Gwynne, De Carlo, and Lewis recreated their roles, but Eddie and Marilyn were played by K.C. Martel and Jo McDonnell respectively.

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