New horror shows come on every year, but one oldie that some people watch yearly is The Munsters: first released in 1964 and starring Fred Gwynne, Al Lewis, Yvonne De Carlo, Butch Patrick, and Beverley Owen/Pat Priest as Herman Munster, Grandpa, Lily Munster, Eddie Munster, and Marilyn Munster respectively.
The series was popular for CBS from the get go, but became even more famous through re-runs. The series ran for two years until it was canceled in 1966, resulting in a total of 70 episodes. There have been a few attempts to reboot it over the years, but nothing has been even close to being as popular as the original series. Despite becoming an iconic show in American culture, there are some things you might have missed. Here are 10 things you may not have known about The Munsters.
10 The Show Could Have Been In Color
Color TV was introduced in the ‘50s, but didn’t really catch on until the '60s. The Munsters could have been in color since the technology was there, but it was too expensive for CBS, so they kept it in black and white.
The unaired pilot called My Fair Munster was actually in color but after test screenings, they decided against a colored series. Keeping it monochrome may have made the show spookier, but it was also its downfall as ABC introduced a colored Batman TV show in 1966, which led to viewer decline on The Munsters.
9 Lily Munster Was Originally Phoebe Munster
In the original The Munsters pilot, Lily Munster didn’t exist. Instead, Herman Munster's wife was Phoebe, played by Joan Marshall. Marshall was recast after executives thought she looked too similar to Morticia Addams. Yvonne De Carlo then stepped into the role as Lily, which Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis originally didn’t agree with since she had already become a big Hollywood star.
Yvonne De Carlo was also known for holding up production as she had to make sure her hair and makeup were perfect before appearing on set. Eventually, Gwynne and Lewis talked to and eventually enjoyed working with her.
8 The Munsters Started Pre-Production Before The Addams Family
The Addams and The Munsters are two of the most famous families of American television and it isn’t a coincidence that their shows aired almost simultaneously. ABC first launched The Addams Family on September 18, 1964 and The Munsters followed a week later.
When ABC caught wind that CBS was parodying Universal Studios' classic monster movies, they fast-tracked their TV show based on Charles Addams’ cartoons about a macabre family printed in The New Yorker. ABC had already had the idea to adapt Addams' cartoons, but The Munsters really pushed them to do so.
7 Beverly Owen Hated Being On The Show
Beverly Owen was well-received as Marilyn, but she hated her role because she was tricked into her contract. She explained that she didn’t want to live in California, but Universal convinced her to audition for the pilot anyways.
When The Munsters was greenlit, Owens told Universal that she didn’t want to do the show but talent agent Monique James threatened to sue. Owen admitted that she often ran off the set crying, but she got out of her contract after 13 episodes. She was replaced by Pat Priest who kept the role for the rest of the series.
6 The Munsters Have An Odd Connection With Leave It To Beaver
The Munsters and Leave it to Beaver were two hit shows for CBS, but most people wouldn’t really see a connection between the two. The Munsters is actually almost a parody of Leave it to Beaver, with the Munster family being anything but a conventional American family.
Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher wrote and produced Leave it to Beaver, both of which would then go on to work on The Munsters. The Munster's house even appeared in Leave it to Beaver a few times since both shows were filmed on Universal Pictures’ lot.
5 Fred Gwynne’s Costume Was Very Uncomfortable
While Fred Gwynne’s Frankenstein costume is iconic, it was horrendously uncomfortable for the actor. Not only did he have to walk on four-inch soles attached to asphalt paver’s boots, but he also had several pounds of foam padding attached to his body to create Herman’s build.
Gwynne was incredibly hot on set and after losing 10 pounds in the first season from sweating so much, the crew started using an air compressor to blow cold air into his costume. Gwynne tried to stay hydrated by drinking a ton of lemonade on his breaks and also suffered from back pain.
4 Eddie Munster Was Recast After the Pilot
While Lily Munster was recast after the pilot episode, so was her son Eddie. Eddie Munster is the only child of the Munsters who also happens to be a werewolf. Butch Patrick became famous for playing the role, but Happy Derman originally played the character in the pilot episode.
Executives decided that Derman’s portrayal was too wolf-like for their tastes so when the series got picked up, Patrick took on the role. The original cast returned in the ‘80s for a film called The Munsters’ Revenge, but Eddie Munster was recast with K.C. Martel in the role.
3 The Special Effects Designer From Frankenstein Worked On The Munsters
The Munsters originally aired on CBS, but NBCUniversal Television Distribution distributed it. This meant that the show could base the Munsters off of characters from Universal’s classic monster movies. This made people connect a bit more with The Munsters than The Addams Family since the characters were more recognizable, but the sets in The Munsters should look familiar also.
Kenneth Strickfaden became famous for his set designs after working on the electricity effects in Frankenstein, but he returned for The Munsters to build parts of Grandpa’s laboratory.
2 Grandpa Was Actually Younger Than Lily
While Grandpa was Lily Munster's father, it may surprise fans that the his actor was actually younger than the actress who played Lily. Yvonne De Carlo was born on September 1, 1922 in Vancouver Canada, while Al Lewis was born a year later on April 30, 1923 in New York City.
Lewis started acting in 1953, but De Carlo started hers over a decade prior in 1940. They may only be a year apart in age, but the costume design and makeup application for Grandpa truly made Lewis look like he was significantly older than his daughter Lily.
1 Mel Blanc Has An Uncredited Role
Mel Blanc was a popular voice actor who was often called “The Man of 1000 Voices," voicing many cartoon characters from the Looney Tunes including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian and many others.
Despite his long list of voices, it still may surprise some that he also voiced a small role on The Munsters. Blanc voiced the Raven, who was part of a cuckoo clock in the Munsters’ house. Raven was famous for the line “Nevermore”, which is of course a reference to Edgar Allen Poe’s famous line in The Raven.