Has any show that was ever on TV for only two years ever been so popular as "The Munsters?" I don't know, but it would be hard to beat this show which is still extremely popular today, as it was in 1964 and 1965. That's over 40 years and three generations. Kids and adults still love this show.
Everybody who starred in the sitcom is interviewed for this "Biography" TV show except for Fred Gwynn, who died from pancreatic cancer in 1993. It was very interesting to see what they all look like. This particular episode aired in July of 2003 so it was probably filmed earlier in the year or late in 2002. Yvonne De Carlo ("Lily Munster") , Al Lewis ("Grandpa"), Beverley Owen and Pat Priest (who both played "Marilyn") and Butch Patrick ("Eddie") all comment about the show, such as what it was like being a star back then and still today, the relationships between everyone, the pounds of makeup that had to be applied to the "monsters," etc. Since then, De Carlo passed away in 2007 and Lewis in 2006. The only person I didn't recognize was Priest. Everyone else you'd still guess who they are, even little Eddie who is now in his 50s.
In this Biography episode, we learn background history of "The Munsters" and witness some of color footage of a 16-minute promotion for it. Munster fans might be interested to know that Joan Marshall played "Phoebe," who is "Lily" as we know her. That, obviously, was changed quickly as was the actor who played Eddie. He was a Happy (Nate) Derman and he came across as a nasty, bitter "Eddie." Producers wound up with the gentler, nicer Patrick.
Owen left the show after just 13 episodes because she was homesick for her boyfriend. She would have crying fits, they explain, on the set that would go on and on and on, so they finally let her out of her contract, she moved back east and married the guy! Priest succeeded her and was the exact same size, so they didn't have to change the wardrobe.
I knew this show was a hit right off the bat (I was one of the viewers), but I didn't how big it was until this show when they explain about all the merchandise that was associated as soon as this became a hit. (It was in the Top Ten almost immediately.) When you hear all the cast had to do to help promote it and capitalize on the success, you feel sorry for them. After the first season, they were all exhausted.
One really feels sorry for poor Gywnne, who Lewis said "suffered horribly" with that big rubber suit on which almost suffocated him. He had to gulp tons of water all the time for all the sweating he was doing. It all sounded really bad. De Carlo's wig weighed 20 pounds. I had heard that she was the one who complained a lot and refused to go on, leading to the cancellation of the show....but that is not true, according to this program. Biography said that when "Batman" became an enormous hit in 1965, the Munsters, especially in black-and-white against the colorful Batman shows, started to literally pale in comparison. CBS got nervous and cancelled the show. They also claim the writers were beginning to run out of ideas for stories. There were 70 Munsters programs in just two years.
Biography then details all the different efforts to revive "The Munsters," none of which worked. The most intriguing part, I thought, was a 1995 made-for-TV movie called "Here Come The Munsters," which starred Edward Herrmann as Herman. He's a waiter in a restaurant and in one scene, the customers are DeCarlo, Lewis, Patrick and Priest! That was cute.
Thanks to cable TV, "We've never been out of syndication," boasts Lewis.
Patrick added, "People tell me they've watched all the episodes many times and they never get tired of watching them."
Boy, that is so true.
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