Anybody who was ever been labeled “different” could surely understand the pain of Herman, Lily, Grandpa, Eddie and Marilyn. No matter how nice they were, no matter how good they were as neighbors, the other folks in Mockingbird Heights always looked at the Munsters with a mix of curiosity and horror. Maybe it was because Herman had bolts in his neck, Lily was a vampire, Grandpa could turn into a bat, and Eddie had a bit of werewolf in him, but was that so wrong? No. They’re here, they’re monsters, get over it.
TV’s The Munsters may have had a few subtle lessons about tolerance, but really, it was all in good fun. Debuting one week after the similarly Gothic/weird/funny The Addams Family, The Munsters centered on the most bizarre family in the most bizarre home on Mockingbird Lane (1313 Mockingbird Lane, to be precise). Herman Munster was the head of the household, which was fitting, since he had the most enormous head. Looking like a 6’10” Frankenstein’s monster, Herman was actually the sweetest guy you could possibly imagine, a big softy who worked at the Gateman, Goodbury and Graves funeral home and happened to drive the coolest-looking roadster on the planet, the Munster Koach.
Herman’s wife, Lily, was the vampire daughter of Grandpa, an old bat (at times literally). Somehow, this Frankenstein’s monster and vampire couple had managed to birth a wolfman offspring, little Eddie (he of the widow’s peak haircut). And to round out the clan, the Munsters took in niece Marilyn, whose blonde bombshell looks made her the family weirdo.
The rest of Mockingbird Heights was pretty much your typical all-American suburb, and therein lay the comedy. The Munsters thought they fit in pretty well, and they couldn’t understand why everyone else seemed to think they were some kind of freaks. Sight gags abounded, and Herman’s child-like mugging made him a non-scary favorite of many kids.
The Munsters, like The Addams Family, only lasted two seasons in its original prime time run, but that was nowhere near the end of this beloved monster clan. The gang showed up in a feature film in 1966, Munster, Go Home, and reruns was a hit in syndication. Herman, Lily and Grandpa made a TV movie comeback in 1981 with The Munsters’ Revenge, and in 1988, the show was updated in the all-new syndicated series The Munsters Today (featuring a new cast). A handful of other Munster TV movies followed, but the original Munsters episodes remain the favorites. So three cheers for Herman, Lily, Grandpa, Eddie and Marilyn—way to win one for the “different” folk.
USA / CBS / x25 minute episodes / Broadcast September 24, 1964 – September 1, 1966 and then again in first run syndication from October 1988 – September 1991
Theme Song: At the Munsters by Jack Marshall.
Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster
Yvonne DeCarlo as Lily Munster
Al Lewis as Grandpa
Beverley Owen as Marilyn Munster (1)
Pat Priest as Marilyn Munster (2)
Butch Patrick as Eddie Munster
John Carradine as Mr. Gateman
Chester Stratton as Chet Thornton
Paul Lynde as Dr. Edward Dudley (1)
Dom DeLuise as Dr. Edward Dudley (2)
Munsters Today Cast
John Schuck as Herman Munster
Lee Meriwether as Lily Munster
Howard Morton as Grandpa
Hilary Van Dyke as Marilyn Munster
Jason Marsden as Eddie Munster