Friday, October 4, 2019

The Munsters (Mega Post!)


For the month of October (and for Halloween), I thought I would do another "Monster" post. Well....a "Munster" post, actually!


The Munsters TV series ran for two seasons, from 1964 - 1966. I'm not old enough to remember The Munsters when it was "first run," but I did watch it in reruns, for many years. During our childhood, my brother and I also had a few "Munsters"-related toys.

These first two toys actually belonged to my brother and since he is older than me, I believe these were given to him while the show was still on in "prime time." First up, is a Munsters "Frame-Tray Puzzle" from 1965, manufactured by the Whitman Company:


This Herman Munster "talking" hand puppet was made in 1964, by Mattel. The round white loop attached to the string (on the bottom right), could be pulled, and the puppet would play one of many prerecorded phrases.




Unfortunately, the puppet's "talking" feature no longer works, but after doing some research online, I found out what those phrases were. I also found out that Fred Gwynne (who played Herman Munster in the original series), recorded the phrases, himself. Below, is a list of those phrases:

You are the ghoul of my dreams.

We could make such horrible music together.

You must come over and meet my mummy!

A tisket, a tasket, I lost my little casket.

You are so cute, I'm green with envy.

Let's go have a picnic...in the graveyard.

I eat spinach...for my complexion.

Oh, you look nice...just like I do.

Hi there, I'm your new babysitter.

When I was a kid, I was homely.

Cheer up! It's bound to get worse.

I love the Beatles, REAL beetles!

Ha, ha, ha! You're the one who's funny looking!

My father was such a friendly Munster.

I'm just a regular green-blooded American boy.

I love your hands, so cold and clammy!

I am a Munster, uh...Herman, that is.

They say I look like someone, in pictures!


Here is a photo of my brother's friend, posing with the very same "Herman" puppet, circa 1972.


I bought this Munsters card game at a garage sale in the mid-1970's, but it was manufactured in 1964 (by Milton Bradley). Note how the artwork on the box depicts Herman, Lily and Grandpa as having flesh-colored skin, just like Marilyn.






For anyone interested in how the game was played, here are the official rules:


In 1964, the Ben Cooper costume company began manufacturing "Munsters" Halloween costumes for children. I found these "Herman" and "Lily" costumes on ebay.

Herman Munster:




Lily Munster:




Meet the World and Gorillas Don't Blog follower, commenter, and special guest blogger, Ken Martinez, has generously shared the following picture with us (Thank you, Ken!). Ken was "Grandpa Munster" for Halloween, back in 1965. (This photo appeared previously on Gorillas Don't Blog, in a post from October 30, 2014.)


Thirty years after Ken dressed up as Grandpa Munster, Target stores were giving away free "Be A Munster In A Minute" paper masks. These were available at the checkout counters and were basically a promotion for "Nick at Night's" Munsters marathon on Halloween night. There were also masks of Herman and Lily (and maybe Eddie) available, but my local Target only had "Grandpa" by the time I got there.



The Munsters was a Universal television production and was filmed at Universal Studios in California. The same year that the series debuted on TV, Universal began offering tours of it's studio. In those early years, one of the highlights of the tour was a recreation of Grandpa's laboratory, complete with Herman Munster, himself!


Inside the lab, guests could push a button, which would make the table with Herman strapped to it, rotate to a horizontal position. My dad took the following photo in 1967.


While riding aboard "Glamour Trams," Universal's guests were also able to tour the studio's backlot, which included a drive past the Munsters' house.


Over the years, Universal has moved the house, multiple times. For The Munsters, the fictional address of the house was 1313 Mockingbird Lane, but it's location on the Universal backlot was "River Road." Later, the house was moved to what Universal called, "Colonial Street."

These next two photos are courtesy of the ebay seller, "Nicepictures." (Thank you very much!)

This first one is from 1965, and shows the house with the front lawn "dressed" for The Munsters.


This second pic was taken in 1969, after the fencing, the wrought iron gates, and the spooky landscaping had all been removed.


My dad took this pic in 1971. (That's the head of my ex-stepmother, who got in the way!)


The house had actually been used in many movies and TV shows, prior to the 1964 debut of The Munsters. It also continued to be used in film and television productions, after the show was canceled.

A 1979 television series titled, Shirley, used the former Munster house as the home for Shirley Jones and her TV family (which included Peter Barton, Rosanna Arquette and Tracey Gold). The series was canceled after only 13 episodes. This ad is from the October 27, 1979 issue of TV Guide:


For those who are curious, here's some more information about that show, from the September 8, 1979 issue of TV Guide:


The Munsters Today was a reboot of the original TV series, starring John Schuck as Herman, Lee Meriwether as Lily, and Howard Morton as Grandpa.


The series ran for three seasons, from 1988 - 1991. This miniature was used for most of the exterior shots of the house.




In 2005, the Munsters house started being featured in the second season of Desperate Housewives, when Alfre Woodard's character, "Betty Applewhite," moved into the house with her sons (played by NaShawn Kearse and Mechad Brooks).


By now, the name of the backlot street had been changed from Colonial Street, to Wisteria Lane, in order to match the fictional location on the show.


In preparation for it's use in the series, the "turret" on the right side of the house was brought down in height, losing it's upper level and balcony. However, by this time, most of the Victorian details on the house had already been removed.


The front porch had also been extended at some point, to make it wrap around to the side of the house.


A brand new "Munsters" house was built on the Universal backlot, for Mockingbird Lane, an NBC television special that aired on October 26, 2012. The special was developed and written by Bryan Fuller (Wonder Falls & Pushing Daisies) and directed by Bryan Singer. It starred Jerry O'Connell as Herman Munster, Portia de Rossi as Lily Munster and Eddie Izzard as Grandpa. NBC had the option to pick it up as a regular TV series, but they decided not to move forward with it.


The roof of the new Munster house was never constructed. It was added in post-production. The roof that you do see in the background (above), is the roof of the "Chicken Ranch" from the film The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas (seen below).


The new Munster house was built right up against the back of that house. I'm not sure why it had to go there, but that is where they built it!


They even removed the porches from the back of the house, to make the new Munster house facade fit into that space.



This is what the finished house looked like, after the roof was added in post-production. (The Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay were also added in the background.)


We will end today's post, with this shot from Mockingbird Land. Here, Marilyn (Charity Wakefield) and Grandpa (Eddie Izzard), are taking a stroll past the original Munsters house....or at least, what still remains of it.


I hope everyone enjoyed this "Munsters Mega Post!"

To learn more about the various locations of the original Munster house and for a list of movies and TV shows it has appeared in, click here: The Munsters Mansion - Wikipedia

Friday, September 6, 2019

Mary Poppins Premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theater


Last week marked the fifty-fifth anniversary of Walt Disney's Mary Poppins. The film premiered at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, on August 27, 1964. This is the souvenir program from that night:





















The movie's premiere was covered in a one hour television special on Los Angeles' KTTV, Channel 11. While the entire broadcast no longer exists, some film footage did survive, along with some audio from a separate radio broadcast, which was taking place that same night. Here is a link to the footage and audio that does still exist:





And here's a publicity shot of the film's two stars, posing with Walt Disney out in front of the theater, on the night of the premiere.


Two years after the premiere of Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke were each invited back to the Chinese Theater, to place their hands and feet into the cement of the theater's forecourt.



Julie Andrews' ceremony was in March of 1966:




And Dick Van Dyke's ceremony was in June of 1966:



Happy fifty-fifth anniversary, to Walt Disney's Mary Poppins!