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

12 comments:

Chuck said...

Nice collection of Munsters ephemera! I always loved that show, even as a kid who was absolutely terrified of the movies that it was derived from.

I remember that guest post by Ken quite well. Neat to see an example of the costume that he wore that Hallowe'en.

That reboot, 1313 Mockingbird Lane, looks pretty bizarre. I think that's a nice touch that they made sure the original house was in the background of the shot.

It's always fun to pick out familiar backlot buildings in shows that you don't normally associate them with. Things that stick in my memory off the top of my head are the Psycho house in an episode of Emergency!, Maj Tony Nelson running past the Stevens' house from Bewitched in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie, and seeing the same city scenes in Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, and .

I'm pretty sure that Herman Munster mannequin predates my first visit to Universal in 1971. Do you remember seeing it yourself?

I used to work with a guy who met Fred Gwynne on the set of some production he was doing up in Maine (maybe Pet Sematary or some stage show). He said he was a really nice man, fairly reflective and self-deprecating. When my friend asked him about The Munsters, he sort of chuckled, looked at the ground, sighed, and said, "I hated that ****ing show."

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, that's a neat story about that guy who got to meet Fred Gwynne. I wonder if he actually hated the show, itself, or just the process of working on it, like maybe how long it took in the makeup chair to get him to look like that. Maybe it was both! From what I've heard, Robert Reed wasn't really happy with what they were turning out every week on The Brady Bunch. Also, I don't think Tina Louise was really happy with Gilligan's Island.

It's funny that you mentioned those famous houses that turn up in other TV shows. I was recently watching an episode of I Dream of Jeannie, and they showed the interior of Dr. Bellows' home. Well, it was actually the Stephens' living room from Bewitched. I don't remember ever seeing that episode before. I have seen an episode showing Dr. Bellows at home and it was a different set. But for this episode, they were using that very familiar living room set of the Stephens'. Even though the furniture was different, there was no mistaking that room! Did they think that people wouldn't notice? Or did they just needed a set quickly and inexpensively?

That reboot, 1313 Mockingbird Land was a little bizarre. I don't remember a heck of a lot about the plot, but I do remember that none of the characters had the extreme makeup that the other versions of the show used (as you can see in that last pic, showing Eddie Izzard as "Grandpa").

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, I forgot to answer your question about whether or not I saw that Herman Munster manikin in person. I never did see it. My dad took that in 1967. My first visit to Universal Studios was in the summer of 1973 and while I remember driving past the Munsters' House, the set of Grandpa's laboratory with Herman was already gone. I'm just not sure what year it disappeared.

TokyoMagic! said...

Chuck, according to "thestudiotour.com," the Munster's laboratory set (with Herman Munster) was there from "1966 to 1967?" They put that question mark after the dates, so I guess they aren't 100% positive about the year that it closed. That seems like an awfully short time for it to be there. They have posted some pics of it, along with a map showing it's location. Apparently, it sat where part of the Simpson's "Springfield" area sits today.

Here's the page with the additional photos and the map: http://www.thestudiotour.com/wp/studios/universal-studios-hollywood/theme-park/past-attractions/munsters-lab/

Major Pepperidge said...

I love The Munsters, it was one of my favorite shows; I must have watched every episode 10 times when it ran in syndication. I also love The Addams Family! Very cool that you still have some genuine Munsters toys, as much as my brother and I were “monster kids”, I don’t think we ever had any of those.

I’m impressed that your talking puppet says 18 different phrases! I wonder if it’s possible to repair it so that it would speak?

I’ll bet that Munsters card game is worth some $$$. As are those Ben Cooper costumes. The “Lily” looks more like the “Phoebe” character that you see in the unaired pilot (which you can watch on YouTube).

That color shot of Grandpa’s lab is great, is that from a postcard? And I HATED the John Schuck Herman! That show was terrible! I’m astonished that it ran for three seasons. Where was that model of the house on display?

It’s always disappointing to see the former Munster house completely changed and made boring. I get it because Universal Studios Hollywood is a real working studio, but I do with they had more monstery stuff there.

Thanks for the Munsters mega post!

Connie Moreno said...

Oh my goodness, what a wonderful post! I love the Munsters and watching them as a kid - first run! I thought Lily was so cool and I wanted to be just like her!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I watched both The Munsters and The Adams Family, but I think I liked The Munsters just a little bit more, for some reason.

I should have explained further about the puppet. When I did my research, I think I found that the Herman Munster puppets said something like 12 different phrases. They reissued the puppet and I think when it was reissued, they took away a few phrases and added a few. I know that one of the versions did not have the "Beetles" reference, because some sellers were listing the puppet as "The Beetle Version." There was also a third version that was not a puppet, but a doll. It looked almost identical to the puppet, but it had legs. And there are people who do restoration of this kind of "talking" toy. There is a plastic record located inside of a plastic casing. I think in some situations, it's just a matter of the "needle" coming off of the record. I have a talking Woody Woodpecker puppet, a talking Bozo the Clown doll, and a "The Farmer Says" toy, all made by Mattel and all of which, no longer "talk."

That color shot of Grandpa's lab is from a postcard. The shot that my dad took in 1967 was in color, but for some reason, the slide had really yellowed, so I thought it looked better in black and white and didn't think it mattered since I also included the color image.

I never watched the John Schuck version (remember when he was in Holmes and Yoyo???). That miniature of the house was on display in a museum at Universal Studios called, The Universal Experience. It was a pretty nice museum, but unfortunately, it closed in 2015 and it's now just a restaurant. Prior to housing artifacts from Universal movies and TV shows, it was the "Lucy Museum" from 1990 to 2008. After Lucille Ball died, Lucie Arnaz worked with Universal on the museum and loaned them costumes, letters, scripts, etc., which her mom had saved over the years. Sorry Major, it probably seems like EVERYTHING in the world has a "Lucy" connection!

I was also very disappointed to see those changes made to the Munster's house! It still looked pretty good....or at least recognizable, until they started using it in Desperate Housewives. That is when they got rid of the upper level and balcony, which I believe was Eddie Muster's bedroom on the show. The exterior of the house was used semi-regularly in the TV show, Coach and it still looked pretty good at that time. They just have to go and ruin everything, don't they?

TokyoMagic! said...

Connie, thank you! And Lily WAS cool!!!

Dan Alexander said...

This weekend I bought a Biker Herman Munster Funko POP! It is exclusive to Walgreens, and I had to track it down using their website. Not every Walgreens has them, it seems.

TokyoMagic! said...

That's cool, Dan! And thanks for sending me a photo of it! Those "POP!" figures are really popular right now. My brother recently gave me an "Astronaut Snoopy" POP! figure. It reminded him of the childhood toys we had of Snoopy dressed as an astronaut. (I previously posted some pics of that vintage toy here: Moon Landing Snoopy - 1969

K. Martinez said...

I loved "The Munsters"! I also enjoyed "The Addams Famly" however I think I enjoyed "The Munsters" more because of the Universal Monsters connection. I also liked the actors better. Thought Al Lewis was great as Grandpa Munster. They even had those cool George Barris Kustoms vehicles the Munster Koach and Drag-u-la. You can't beat that.

I love the b&w photo your dad took of Grandpa Munster's lab. It reminds me of b&w snapshots of family trips down to SoCal and it's attractions during the 1960's. Unfortunately I'm not in possession of those photos. And yeah, the postcard is nice, but I like your dad's photo better.

I sure wish I had hung onto that Grandpa Munster Halloween costume, but what did I know back then.

There is so much fun in this post. Thanks for sharing this, TM! Am glad to be a part of it too. Thanks again!

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, your costume pic gave me an idea for a future Halloween post. I did happen to save four of my Ben Cooper costumes from childhood (a tiger, a skeleton, Dracula, and Mickey Mouse!), so I just might photograph them and post them in the future.

I actually wish that pic that my dad had taken of Grandpa's laboratory had turned out better. As I mentioned to Major P. in a comment above, the slide had yellowed severely. Herman's face was also washed out, for some reason. I just thought it looked less crappy in black and white, so I converted it.

I'm glad you enjoyed the post! And thanks again, for sharing your photo!