Everything You Wanted to Know About The Munsters
Lewis) and Herman Munster (Fred Gwynne) first
appeared together in "Car 54". One day Jerry Hensler, the head of
creative development at Universal Studios called up Al and said that he
was sending a script that he wanted Al and Fred to appear in. They did
a 16 minute presentation to Grey Advertising and it was sold to
sponsors. That began "The
Munsters". It was written primarily for Fred and Al. Fred drew a
picture of Spot the Dragon and brought it to the prop shop and had them
make it. The
Munsters was produced by Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher of
Revue Productions, a division of Universal. The actual name of the
production team was changed to Kayro-Vue which used their wives' first
In 1963, the original pilot was shot with the same actors except for Joan Marshall as Phoebe, and Happy Derman as Eddie. Part of the pilot was filmed on the old Psycho set. It was filmed in color and cut as a 12 minute and 16 minute episode. Each featured slightly different editing. A recently discovered color film of the pilot has been included in the first season DVD that was released in 2004. This episode was reshot once the network picked up the program. Yvonne DeCarlo then appeared as Lilly and Butch Patrick appeared as Eddie. Happy Derman was perceived as too wolfish. The scene in Grandpa's lab was reshot and the new footage was edited into the existing presentation to create a full episode. Yet another pilot version was filmed to add a widow's peak to Eddie Munster.
The opening credit sequence for the first season was a spoof of The Donna Reed Show. This show also featured Donna at the foot of the stairs handing out lunch boxes to her children one-by-one as they left. The Munsters was an instant hit upon its debut. By the end of the first season, it was in the number eight slot. Beverly Owen, the first Marilyn, only did the pilot as a favor to her boyfriend, one of the producers (he later became her husband and produced Sesame Street). She never expected the show to sell. When it did, she was very angry and spent 13 episodes crying and running off the set. Finally, Gwynne and Lewis demanded that she be released from her contract. Pat Priest then took on the role. Beverly Owen never worked on TV again.
Now on to the regular series. Yvonne DeCarlo, Beverly Owen (the first Marilyn), Pat Priest (the second Marilyn), and Butch Patrick made up the supporting cast. Early episodes were done with a different makeup artist and were "dark and atmospheric." Perc Westmore then became the makeup artist and changed the characters into less threatening creatures. The show lasted only two short years. The introduction of Batman on the same time slot on another network was a color show. This pressured the network to produce the series in color, which was perceived as very expensive. There was no formal announcement when the series was cancelled.
" I think we were just told that they wouldn't take our lunch reservations at the commissary anymore," says Al Lewis in No. 209 of Famous Monsters of Filmland. The only explanation from insiders for the cancellation was that the network perceived a decline in popularity with classic monsters. Even though the show was still popular, it was cancelled along with other popular shows.
A "large domestic
comedy cycle...was the
imaginative comedy show. These programs appeared on all three networks
during the 1960's and were extremely popular. "Bewitched..., The
Addams Family, Batman,
Island were part of this cycle... It's
interesting to note that after this hefty serving of comedy fantasy,
the appetite of the American viewer was apparently sated, and that
particular cycle has never been repeated," says Sherwood Schwartz,
producer and author of Gilligan's Island.
After the cancellation, the network couldn't ignore the continuing popularity of The Munsters. Thus a string of movies were created. They performed in Munster, Go Home shortly after. Later they did The Munsters Revenge. In 1994, John Landis approached Al Lewis at a Famous Monsters convention and asked him to appear in a Munsters movie, Here Come the Munsters, that appeared on October 31, 1995 on the Fox network. Al, Yvonne, Butch, and Pat appear in a restaurant in the movie.
On December 17, 1996 was the Munster movie entitled, The Munster's Scary Little Christmas. This was the second Munsters movie on FOX. You can also find the original Herman Munster appearing in commercials on TV. Computers are used to splice in his image. This wouldn't have happened when Fred Gwynne was alive because he regretted his involvement in The Munsters. He felt that he was type-casted and was not able to find much work after the show. One of his last appearances in a movie was on Pet Semetary, a Stephen King movie. He also did the voice-overs on the Hardees commercials and appeared in the comedy, Murder By the Book in 1987.
Today, the Munster home is still standing on a Universal Studios lot in California. The old dark, gray facade is gone and it bears a fresh coat of paint and manicured lawn. Hardly a home suitable for our demented family! All the interior shots were done on stage 32 at Universal Studios. Today, the reruns of The Munsters still appear on some local TV stations across the world and in 1998 on the satellite TV channel, TV Land. There currently is no known network or station regularly carrying the episodes.
The Munsters drove the two coolest cars around. Who designed the Munster Koach? It was none other than George Barris, the same man who designed the Batmobile, the Flinstones mobile, and the Monkees GTO. To this day, new Munster movies continue to play on the television. So much for the public not having an appetite for "imaginative comedy". This Munsters site was created to encourage the networks to bring back creativity and comedy without all the sex and violence of today's shows.
If you would like to read detailed facts of our favorite haunted family, you can visit our detailed trivia page culled from episodes, magazines, books, and promotional material.
Munsters- the unofficial
The Munsters is a registered trademark of Universal Studios