Between 1964 and 1966, The Munsters were arguably America’s favorite TV family. They and The Addams Family took the traditional sitcom and gave it a ghoulish twist.
Even today, there’s a demand for Herman and the gang. In fact, top horror director Rob Zombie is currently shooting a revival for Peacock.
What’s the secret behind The Munsters’ success? Or should that be secrets? This family certainly has its fair share of skeletons in the closet!
7. What’s the deal with Marilyn Munster…?
Beverley Owen and Pat Priest shared the role of niece Marilyn. What an irony that someone with the surname Priest should play the part for the longest!
Marilyn is possibly The Munsters‘ biggest secret. She’s so darned… well, normal! To viewers she was gorgeous. To the family, she was kind of hideous. That was the gag. Yet to this day no one has solved the mystery of her appearance.
And how about Butch Patrick as Eddie Munster? Apu picked up on a monstrous plot hole in The Simpsons:
6. Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis worked the beat
Before they lived at Mockingbird Lane, Gwynne (Herman) and Lewis (Grandpa) were part of another type of family… the New York City police department.
Like The Munsters, NBC’s Car 54, Where Are You? ran for two years. So when the call came from CBS, the actors suited up for a different kind of role.
Lewis returned for the 1994 movie version of Car 54, Where Are You? and Grandpa Munster got a nod when Lewis was shown watching The Munsters on TV.
5. Yvonne De Carlo was older than she looked
Completing the elders of the family was Hollywood siren Yvonne De Carlo. As it turned out, producers were hiding another secret from Munsters fans.
You wouldn’t know it, but the age gap between Al Lewis and Yvonne De Carlo was negligible, despite being father and daughter on the show! “In real life, he was actually just one year younger than De Carlo,” writes Past Factory, “while Fred Gwynne was younger than both of them.”
4. The Incredible Melting Munster
Herman Munster’s classic skin tone was violet, rather than the expected green. Why? Because “the color caught better on black-and-white film.”
A secret side effect of this was that it tended to liquefy off his skin. Studio lights took their toll and Herman began to melt. Visitors to the set may have gotten a nasty surprise on seeing this much-loved character “in the flesh”!
3. Coffin up for the Drag-U-La
This morbid little racer, which was featured in the episode “Hot Rod Herman,” looked like a coffin. No surprises there. However, did you know an actual coffin was used for the vampire-wowing vehicle?
Producers needed to bend the rules to make the project happen. As Past Factory states, you couldn’t just buy a coffin. A death certificate was needed. And because NBC wasn’t prepared to kill someone to obtain it (joke), the team arranged a covert delivery.
In true Munsters fashion, the coffin was waiting outside the funeral home at night, ready to be spirited away by designer Tom Daniel.
2. Bugs Bunny meets the Raven
Two talented voice artists gave voice to the Raven. One was Bob Hastings, who was part of McHale’s Navy and played Commissioner Gordon in the Batman animated universe. (In a gruesome turn of events, Adam West’s Batman staked The Munsters in the ratings, leading to its cancellation.)
The other was Mel Blanc, whose work on Looney Tunes is the stuff of legend. Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are just a couple of his iconic performances behind the microphone.
1. The 2012 revival was surprisingly different
It came and went, but a comeback for The Munsters happened in the form of the pilot movie Mockingbird Lane.
Stripping away the more obvious monster connections and going for a subtle yet sinister approach, it starred Jerry O’Connell as Herman, Portia de Rossi as Lily, and Eddie Izzard as Grandpa.
Written by Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Hannibal), the end product was aired so everyone knew about it. Munsters fans must have been surprised however by the radical change.
For example, O’Connell was more of an all-American hunk than Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein. And Izzard looked like an aging member of The Lost Boys!