The Munsters: Was TV's 'Other' Spooky Sitcom A Better Show?

By | November 30, 2017

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Left: Fred Gwynne (1926 - 1993), as Herman Munster, and Yvonne De Carlo (1922 - 2007) as Lily Munster in a publicity still for the comedy-horror TV series 'The Munsters', circa 1965. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images) Right: Pat Priest as Ma

In the 1960s, anyone hoping for a TV comedy about a family of spooky weirdos was doubly rewarded with The Munsters and The Addams Family. The Addams Family, based on the famous New Yorker cartoons of Charles Addams, turned out to be the more popular and enduring show, but The Munstersoriginally airing on CBS from 1964 to 1966, wasn't a failure at all. The shows premiered the same week, and were actually different in several ways -- The Munsters were non-scary recreations of actual movie monsters, while the main characters of the Addams Family were truly macabre, and more eccentric than supernatural. The gag with the Munsters was that they were actual monsters who dealt with more or less ordinary sitcom problems, while The Addams Family's plots were often tied to their spooky, lovably evil nature. Was The Munsters underappreciated because of competition from The Addams Family?

The family consisted of Herman, the patriarch, who resembled Frankenstein’s creation; Lily, the matriarch, who was a Vampire; Grandpa, Lily’s father, who was also a Vampire (and a Count, to boot); Eddie, Herman’s and Lily’s son, and also a werewolf, and; Marilyn, their niece. Although the Munster family couldn’t personally or physically identify with anyone else in the community, they were sure that their family was “normal” and that everyone else was “abnormal,” including, poor, unfortunate Marilyn.  

Cast Of Characters

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The Munster family lived at 1313 Mockingbird Lane, an address that played on the idea that the number 13 is considered unlucky or cursed. Herman (Fred Gwynne) was an intimidating presence, but was actually harmless and childlike. Lily (Yvonne De Carlo) was a doting wife, mother, daughter and aunt. Grandpa (Al Lewis) was an obstinate father in law at times. Eddie (Butch Patrick) was a “regular” kid with regular kid issues and Marilyn (played by Beverly Owen in the first 13 episodes and Pat Priest in the subsequent 57) was the beautiful blond niece who was frequently misunderstood by her family.