28 Facts You Might Not Know about The Munsters

(Image: CBS)

Pay a visit to the family that lives at 1313 Mockingbird Lane. You'll meet the Munsters, a delightful group that isn't monstrous--once you get to know them.

Though The Munsters lasted only 2 seasons from 1964-1966, it remains a popular show and an icon of American television. Here are a few tidbits of trivia about the show that you might enjoy.

(Image: CBS)

1. The original unaired 1964 pilot episode was shot in color. Joan Marshall played the mother role, then named Phoebe. David Derman played Eddie Munster.

2. Although the first pilot episode was shot in color, the rest of the series was shot in black and white to save money. It certainly adds to the horror ambiance, don’t you think?

(Image: MGM)

3. Bert Lahr, who played the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, was offered the role of Grandpa Munster.

(Image: CBS)

4. Bill Mumy was offered the role of Eddie Munster.

(Image: Television Corporation of America)

5. John Carradine, a horror and Western actor, was offered the role of Herman Munster.

(Images: CBS)

6. Grandpa was Lily’s father, but Al Lewis was a year younger than Yvonne De Carlo.

7. While Fred Gwynne attended Harvard, he drew cartoons for and was president of the famous Harvard Lampoon.

(Image: Simon & Schuster)

8. Gwynne became an accomplished artist and eventually wrote and illustrated several children's books.

(Image: CBS)

9. Al Lewis’s long prosthetic nose was eliminated after a few episodes because he kept getting it wet in his cups of coffee.

10. The Munsters own a cuckoo clock that contains a raven. It shouts “Nevermore!”, which is a reference to a famous Edgar Allen Poe poem. The voice of that raven is the legendary Mel Blanc.

11. Gwynne’s Herman Munster costume was brutally hot. It was essential to keep him cool, not only for his health, but to keep his makeup from melting. Between shots, a stagehand would shoot air with an air compressor up his sleeves to relieve some of the heat.

(Images: CBS)

12. Two actresses played Marilyn Munster. Beverly Owen (left) asked to leave the show after 13 episodes. Pat Priest (right) replaced her.

(Images: CBS, Universal Pictures)

13. Special effects technician Kenneth Strickfadden designed Grandpa Munster’s laboratory and Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory in the 1931 film Frankenstein. Grandpa’s lab includes some of the same props from Dr. Frankenstein's lab.

(Video Link)

14. Here's a commercial that the cast made for Cheerios cereal.

(Image: CBS)

15. The Munsters’ hot rod car was made by the famous custom carmaker George Barris. He also made the Batmobile from the 1966 Batman series. Barris’s team made the Munster Koach, as he called it, from Model T bodies and a stretched 1927 touring car. Barris retained ownership of the car and rented it to the production studio. When it wasn’t in use, he took it to car shows all over the country.

(Image: unknown)

16. The Munsters became so popular that Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis were invited to participate in the 1964 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. They rode down the street in the Munster Koach.

(Image: CBS)

17. Fans loved the Munster Koach, so the producers ordered another car from Barris for Grandpa. He named it Drag-u-la. It had a 289 cubic inch Ford Mustang engine and the body of a casket. Barris had enormous difficulty getting that casket. Stephen Cox quotes Barris:

“I went to several funeral parlors because I wanted to buy a real casket for this car, but they wouldn’t sell one unless you were dead.” Barris says, laughing. “Finally, one place had a broken one in the corner, but the owner wouldn’t sell it. I had a fellow put some money in an envelope and leave it while the owner and I took a walk out back. My guys picked up the casket and walked out. We literally spooked off with the casket.” (97)

(Video Link)

18. The Munsters’ spooky house has appeared in many TV shows and movies and is still standing today on a Universal Studios lot. It was used just a few years ago for an episode of Desperate Housewives. Oprah Winfrey played a potential buyer of it. She was interested in the house, but decided against staying there because she found the neighborhood spooky.

(Photo: Munster Mansion)

19. Charles and Sandra McKee of Waxahachie, Texas are huge fans of The Munsters. When it was time to build their dream home, they recreated the Munsters' house.  It’s a 5,825 square foot mansion that mimics the Munster home right down to the crooked weathervane and the grand staircase that opens up. Every Halloween, they use it to host huge parties to benefit charities.

(Image: ABC)

20. Despite their similarities, the simultaneous Munsters by CBS and The Addams Family by ABC were created separately without inspiration by each other.

(Image: eBay seller jstrons7880)

21. The Munsters inspired a vast variety of merchandise, including several card and board games.

(Video Link)

22. The series was cancelled after 2 seasons, but not before the cast shot a made for TV movie called Munster, Go Home! In it, Herman inherits a fortune and a mansion from his uncle, a British earl. The family journeys to the UK and accidentally uncovers a counterfeiting operation.

(Video Link)

23. In 1973, ABC created an animated pilot feature called The Mini-Munsters. Al Lewis voiced his old character in it.

(Video Link)

24. In 1981, there was a TV reunion movie called The Munsters’ Revenge. Gwynne, De Carlo, and Lewis reprised their original roles.

(Image: NBC)

25. The series was rebooted in 1988 as The Munsters Today. It lasted 3 seasons with 72 episodes. The entire run is available on Hulu.

(Video Link)

26. There were TV movies in 1995 and 1996 titled Here Come the Munsters and The Munsters’ Scary Little Christmas, respectively.

(Photo: NYU via Ephemeral New York)

27. In the late 1980s, Al Lewis capitalized on his identity as Grandpa Munster by opening a restaurant in Greenwich Village. It was called Grampa’s Bella Gente. Fred Gwynne drew the logo for the restaurant, which was a profile of Lewis in his Grandpa Munster costume.

28. Al Lewis ran for Governor of New York in 1998 as the Green Party candidate. He got 52,000 votes.

Cox, Stephen. The Munsters: A Trip Down Mockingbird Lane. New York: Back Stage Books, 2006. Print.

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I would like to see "historical dramas," but I'm afraid they are too expensive. I watched Hell on Wheels last night and they introduced Stagecoach Mary Fields- a historical character I had actually written about!
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Fred Gwynne was a perfect balance of comedy and acting. Isn't it funny how we go through cycles? "Monster and Science Fiction Shows", "Westerns", "Variety Shows", "Half Hour Situation Comedies featuring stupid Dads", "Reality Shows"... what's next?
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This is a great list. I had no idea it was originally shot in color. Also I loved Fred Gwynne and it's heartwarming to know he was a children's artist. The most surprising fact is that the two shows were created independently since it's been a hotly debated topic which was a rip-off. Of course, the Addams Family comic strip predated the show, so I guess it wins by default.
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