Chances are when you hear the name Herman Munster, you don’t scream in terror, you scream with fits of laughter. The Munsters, which debuted in 1964, gave us a twisted look at life through the eyes of a very unusual family.
Fred Gwynne played Herman, loving dad and oversized goofball. He looked like Frankenstein on a good day, but his personality was a cross between Ralph Kramden and Pee-wee Herman. His charming wife, Lily, played by the lovely Yvonne DeCarlo was the true anchor of the family, the practical one, the disciplinarian. Son Eddie (Butch Patrick) slept in a coffin with his ‘woof woof’ and sported pointy ears to rival Mr. Spock. Living with the family was the poor unfortunate niece Marilyn (played by both Beverly Owen and Pat Priest) who spent her life bemoaning the curse of being born blond and built. Finishing off the family was dear Grandpa, Lily’s father and resident vampire, mad scientist and all around prankster played by actor Al Lewis.
The family resided at 1313 Mockingbird Lane in Mockingbird Heights (The house can still be seen on the tour at Universal Studios) with their beloved pets, Spot a dragon like creature that lived under the stairs, Igor, the family bat, and that ever annoying Raven in the cuckoo clock(whose voice was supplied by the famous Mel Blanc).
Though they are often compared to their spooky ooky neighbors The Addams Family, The Munsters actually had more in common with it’s cartoon cousin The Flintstones. The comedy in The Munsters came from one reoccurring thread, Herman tries to do something great, Grandpa tries to help him out and everything goes haywire. The episodes leaned heavily on slapstick humor with plenty of pratfalls and funny fights.
Remember Herman moonlighting as a wrestler to get money for Eddie’s college education? Or trying to gain his sons respect by imitating Zombo? Then there was Herman contacts aliens, Herman gets a record career or Herman becomes a baseball player, ….the list goes on and on.
Unlike The Addams Family with its portrayal of a family that works together in a pinch. The Munsters were constantly at odds with each other with Herman’s childish tantrums, Grandpa’s scheming, and Lily’s constant scolding, it often seemed that little Eddie was the most grown up figure in the bunch. Given all that, the Munster do share something with the Addam’s, both shows debuted a week apart in the same year, and both were canceled in the same week two years later.
If you’re a Munsters fan, there are plenty of ways to keep the torch burning. You can visit the Official website which is run by little Eddie himself, Butch Patrick. You can even purchase your own, rare Woof Woof doll for a mere $1395.00 — plus $85.00 shipping.
Looking for a less expensive way to show your love? Try the Polar Lights remake of the original Aurora model kit. The diorama of the family living room is done in 1/16 scale and shows Lily knitting in her coffin seat with Herman relaxing in his electric lazy boy. Little Eddie is seated in front of a roaring fire with his precious woof woof doll in hand. Best part? Check out the pet rabbit on top of the TV set. Talk about a great pair of rabbit ears.
Want to revisit the series? You can buy The Munsters: the Complete Series on DVD.