Every community has the one family that raises the collective eyebrows of the neighbors due to their non-conforming ways. Sure, they appear to be nice enough folks but they just don’t fit in with their surroundings. Well, over on 1313 Mockingbird Lane, raised eyebrows gave way to sheer terror when they got a look at the inhabitants, better known as The Munsters.
Originally conceived as a cartoon, the folks at CBS decided to take the live-action sitcom route and developed a pilot called “My Fair Munster” in 1964. The series got the green light and it wasn’t long before audiences fell in love with the freakish family. Running concurrently with another series about a ghoulish clan called The Addams Family, the humor in The Munsters was decidedly less dark and leaned more towards silly.
Living in a decrepit old mansion in Mockingbird Heights, the Munster family was headed by patriarch, Herman (Fred Gwynne,) a towering Frankenstein look-alike with green skin (at least, we assume so – the show was shot in black and white,) protruding neck bolts, and a far more jovial disposition than one might expect. Herman was the blue-collar breadwinner of the family, which included lovely wife, Lily (Yvonne DeCarlo); a young son named Eddie (Butch Patrick) who sported a widow’s peak hairstyle; the elder Grandpa Munster (Al Lewis,) who spent his time working on inventions in the family dungeon; and the only normal looking one of the bunch, Lily’s beautiful niece Marilyn (Beverly Owen/Pat Priest). Of course, every family needs a pet or three and the Munsters were no exception. First, there was Spot, Eddie’s fire-breathing dragon who lived under the stairs. Then there was Igor, a Transylvanian bat who lived in the basement with Grandpa, and finally, a black raven who resided in the family cuckoo clock and spoke the word “nevermore” at every opportunity (voiced by the iconic Mel Blanc.)
As far as the Munsters were concerned, they were every bit as normal as everyone else and they couldn’t quite understand why everyone they met was so terrified by them. They were good citizens, helpful and friendly neighbors, and just trying to get along like everyone else in this world. They had a family car just like everyone else – although their preferred vehicle happened to be a souped-up hearse. All in all, the Munsters just wanted what everyone wants – a little acceptance from their fellow man.
The Munsters ran for two seasons, ending in 1966. The cast reunited over the years in a number of made-for-TV films including: Munster, Go Home in 1966, The Munsters Revenge in 1981, Here Come the Munsters in 1995, and The Munsters’ Scary Little Christmas in 1996. A revamped series, The Munsters Today, debuted in 1988, featuring a new cast of characters and ran for 3 seasons before meeting its demise.
While the Munster family may have had plenty of problems winning over their local community, they luckily never had the same problem with television viewing audiences, who have continued to embrace this kooky family of ghouls for more than 4 decades. If you count yourself as one of their many fans, we welcome your recollections of this beloved series in our comments section.