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Al Lewis as Grandpa in the Munsters

Right: Credits from the regular series

Lower Right:
The credits from the pilot episode

Al Lewis as Grandpa
Granpda in the rain

Grandpa enjoys his favorit weather- rain
Color Al Lewis as Grandpa

Grandpa is played by Al Lewis. He was born on April 30, 1923, in Brooklyn, New York.

GrandpaHe first became involved in show business as a circus clown for three different circuses, riding a unicycle and performing stunts on the trapeze bar. He went on to appear in carnivals, then medicine shows. He started out in radio on WGN in Chicago. He came to New York and worked on radio soap operas. Later, Lewis taught school and wrote two children's books. During World War II, he worked as a seaman and was torpedoed twice.

Al received a Ph.D. in child psychology from Columbia University at the age of 31. In 1949, at the suggestion of a friend, Lewis turned to acting and joined the Paul Mann Actor's Workshop in New York. Al worked in burlesque and vaudeville theaters across the country, which led to other theater endeavors and eventually to Broadway. By the 1950's he was on almost every live TV show out of New York.

Al ran for governor of New York in 1998. Al Lewis died at the age of 83 on February 4, 2006 after a long illness.

Grandpa's Stats

His real name is Count Dracula (aka Sam Dracula). Some sources put his age of at around 378. Monster World puts it at over 430 years old.


Transylvania ("the Old Country")


Magician and psychic (he can tell when the phone is about to ring)

Marital Status:

Currently single (has had 16 wives)


Lily, Lester, and another daughter (no name given)


Mad scientist

His film and TV credits include:

Officer Leo Schnauser on Car 54, Where Are You?"- also starred Fred Gwynne. The series ran from 1961 to 1963.

The Broadway play, Do Re Mi with Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker.

Additional Screen credits:

Howard Stern: Shut up and Listen! (1997)
South Beach Academy (1996)
Car 54, Where Are You? (1994)

My Grandpa Is a Vampire (1991)
Fright House (1989)
Comic Cabby (1986)
The Munsters' Revenge (1981)
The Way He Was (1976)
They Might Be Giants (1971)
Munster, Go Home (1966)
Our Miss Brooks (1956)
Grampa's Monster Movies
Grampa's Sci-Fi Hits

After "The Munsters," Al made countless appearances in television and motion pictures, performed on the dinner theater circuit around the country and even owned a brokerage firm in Los Angeles for a time.

Al owned a restaurant called Grampa's, in Greenwich Village, and the business led to plans for opening a few more Italian eateries around the city.

He released a home video for children and appeared on WTBS cable in a series of Saturday morning programs for children. Al was heard on WBAI, 99.5 FM in New York City on Saturdays at noon.

You can read an interview with Al at his last employer, WBAI Radio.


Grandpa in lab

Grandpa 'Munster' dies at age 83

Saturday, February 4, 2006; Posted: 6:04 p.m. EST (23:04 GMT) Al Lewis died Friday at the age of 83.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Al Lewis, the cigar-chomping patriarch of "The Munsters" whose work as aGrandpa Al basketball scout, restaurateur and political candidate never eclipsed his role as Grandpa from the television sitcom, died after years of failing health. He was 83.

Lewis, with his wife at his bedside, passed away Friday night, said Bernard White, program director at WBAI-FM, where the actor hosted a weekly radio program. White made the announcement on the air during the Saturday slot where Lewis usually appeared.

"To say that we will miss his generous, cantankerous, engaging spirit is a profound understatement," White said.

Lewis, sporting a somewhat cheesy Dracula outfit, became a pop culture icon playing the irascible father-in-law to Fred Gwynne's ever-bumbling Herman Munster on the 1964-66 television show. He was also one of the stars of another classic TV comedy, playing Officer Leo Schnauzer on "Car 54, Where Are You?"

But Lewis' life off the small screen ranged far beyond his acting antics. A former ballplayer at Thomas Jefferson High School, he achieved notoriety as a basketball talent scout familiar to coaching greats like Jerry Tarkanian and Red Auerbach.

He operated a successful Greenwich Village restaurant, Grandpa's, where he was a regular presence -- chatting with customers, posing for pictures, signing autographs.

A ponytailed Lewis ran as the Green Party candidate against incumbent Gov. George Pataki. Lewis campaigned against draconian drug laws and the death penalty, while going to court in a losing battle to have his name appear on the ballot as "Grandpa Al Lewis."

He didn't defeat Pataki, but managed to collect more 52,000 votes.

Lewis was born Alexander Meister in upstate New York before his family moved to Brooklyn, where the 6-foot-1 teen began a lifelong love affair with basketball. He later became a vaudeville and circus performer, but his career didn't take off until television did the same.

Lewis, as Officer Schnauzer, played opposite Gwynne's Officer Francis Muldoon in "Car 54, Where Are You?" -- a comedy about a Bronx police precinct that aired from 1961-63. One year later, the duo appeared together in "The Munsters," taking up residence at the fictional 1313 Mockingbird Lane.

The series, about a family of clueless creatures plunked down in middle America, was a success and ran through 1966. It forever locked Lewis in as the memorably twisted character; decades later, strangers would greet him on the street with shouts of "Grandpa!"

Unlike some television stars, Lewis never complained about getting typecast and made appearances in character for decades.

"Why would I mind?" he asked in a 1997 interview. "It pays my mortgage."

Lewis rarely slowed down, opening his restaurant and hosting his WBAI radio program. At one point during the '90s, he was a frequent guest on the Howard Stern radio show, once sending the shock jock diving for the delay button by leading an undeniably obscene chant against the Federal Communications Commission.

He also popped up in a number of movies, including the acclaimed "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" and "Married to the Mob." Lewis reprised his role of Schnauzer in the movie remake of "Car 54," and appeared as a guest star on television shows such as "Taxi," "Green Acres" and "Lost in Space."

But in 2003, Lewis was hospitalized for an angioplasty. Complications during surgery led to an emergency bypass and the amputation of his right leg below the knee and all the toes on his left foot. Lewis spent the next month in a coma.

A year later, he was back offering his recollections of a seminal punk band on the DVD "Ramones Raw."

Shortly after he died, the media reported incorrectly his age at 95.

He is survived by his wife, Karen Ingenthron-Lewis, three sons and four grandchildren.

Television's Grandpa Munster Dies
Al Lewis as Grandpa in the 1960s series The Munsters
Grandpa Munster became a popular icon of 1960s television

Actor Al Lewis, best known for his role as Grandpa in 1960s TV comedy The Munsters, has died.

His death was announced by the New York radio station, WBAI-FM, where the actor hosted a weekly series.

"To say that we will miss his generous, cantankerous, engaging spirit is a profound understatement," said programme director Bernard White.

The actor was widely reported to have been born in 1910, but his son Ted said his father was born in 1923.

Dracula costume

Lewis became a familiar face on US television for his role as the irascible Grandpa Munster in the 1960s sitcom, which saw him sporting an elaborate Dracula costume.

Prior to his Munster role, he played Officer Leo Schnauser in the popular police series Car 54, Where Are You?

He went on to star in a number of films, including They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and Married to the Mob.

Al Lewis in 2001
Lewis, a former circus performer, turned to politics in the 1990s

Beyond the silver screen, the former basketball player became a respected talent scout, ran a restaurant in New York's Greenwich Village, wrote two children's books and campaigned as the Green Party candidate for governor of New York.

A Brooklyn native, Lewis continued to work throughout the 1990s and was a frequent guest on the Howard Stern radio show, where he memorably led an obscene chant against the Federal Communications Commission.

Ill health forced him to slow down in 2003, when complications during surgery led to an emergency bypass and the amputation of his right leg below the knee.

He is survived by his wife, Karen, who was at his bedside when he died, three sons and four grandchildren.

A Memorial Service for (Grandpa) Al Lewis
by Mark Dunlea
Capital District of the Green Party of New York State

Grandpa Lewis once said, "The secret of life is to find something you absolutely love to do...then along the way, if you are fortunate, you get to love the way you do it...If you don't have a life-long romance with yourself, hah! You better lay down on the couch-you got problems." This reflected Al Lewis' message he gave to those who went uncared for and unrecognized.

Grandpa Al Lewis in the studios of WBAI FM in New York City. Lewis used his fame and weekly radio show to champion causes like drug and prison reform. In 1998, he helped the Green Party gain ballot status in New York State by running for governor. Photo by Chris Flash

Mourners and celebrants packed Riverside Church in Manhattan on February 18 for a rousing memorial service for Lewis. Known worldwide as Grandpa Munster, Lewis qualified the Greens as an official party in New York State when he ran for governor in 1998. 

Speakers at the service spoke to his passion for social justice combined with a razor sharp satirical approach to public commentary. They spoke of his intelligence, his voracious reading habits, his crazy cackle and wild hair, his ever-present cigar. All spoke of Grandpa's passion for speaking truth to power. 

Columnist Jimmy Breslin observed that Lewis not only habitually joined any picket line that he passed, but he particularly insisted on supporting the smallest protests. Breslin said if there was a solitary protestor, Al wanted to double the size of the protest. 

Dr. Alice Green, Lewis' lieutenant governor running mate in 1998 said, "He was never one to sugar-coat life for people. Unlike other candidates for Governor, he did not offer up empty platitudes... Instead, he talked about the realities poor people and people of color faced in their daily lives, about racism and capitalism and greed. He would help out reporters by slowly spelling out on his hand what a campaign contribution really was-B - R - I - B - E. He loved calling his republican opponent "Potato Head Pataki."

Al Lewis is best know for his role as 'Grandpa' from the TV series The Munsters

Lewis, a former union organizer and long-time labor activist, had a long-running public affairs talk show on WBAI. He was popular in the prisons in the metro New York area. He and his wife Karen Lewis started a major pen pal program for prisoners through WBAI.

Many of the speakers spoke to the pivotal role Lewis played in building the movement to repeal New York's draconian Rockefeller Drug Law. Margaret Kunstler, activist and widow of William Kunstler, read the names of scores of individuals Al had helped freed from prison.

Randy Credico, the comedian said "Al showed up week after week in front of the Rockefeller Center. He came no matter what the weather. His constant presence eventually convinced more of the relatives of those imprisoned to join the line, leading to the creation of the Mothers of the Disappeared. Al never gave up and he wouldn't let anyone else give up either." 

"Grandpa was never afraid to use his celebrity to make a better world. But while he was quick to criticize the powerful, he was always an educator and a master entertainer, trying to reach people," said Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, who worked for years with Lewis at WBAI.

Goodman added that Lewis spoke of protecting W.E. Dubois at the funeral for the Rosenburgs, who were executed allegedly for being spies. A majority of the mourners were African-American women who understood persecution. "He said that these were the pictures you don't get from the NY Times. His show every Saturday was a lifeline to all those people on the other side of prison bars right now."

Many of the speakers noted Lewis was always a warm to people on the street. He would take a few minutes to talk to them, to share a story, to give them a memory they could keep. A mourner said "Walking around town with Al was being at the head of a parade that would instantaneously form as people poured out of stores and homes to greet Grandpa."

To view interviews with Grandpa Al Lewis, go to http://thirdplanetvideo.com/AlLewis.html 

Mark Dunlea helped Lewis run for governor and represented Lewis' suit to have "Grandpa" added to his name on the ballot.

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