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July 11, 2021

The Makeup of Fred Gwynne’s Herman Munster in ‘The Munsters’ in the 1960s

The Munsters is an American sitcom depicting the home life of a family of benign monsters. The series starred Fred Gwynne as Frankenstein’s monster and head-of-the-household Herman Munster; Yvonne De Carlo as his wife Lily Munster; Al Lewis as Lily’s father, Grandpa, the somewhat over-the-hill vampire Count Dracula who longs for the “good old days” in Transylvania; Beverley Owen (later replaced by Pat Priest) as their teenage niece Marilyn Munster, who was attractive by conventional standards but the “ugly duckling” of the family; and Butch Patrick as their werewolfish son Eddie Munster.

The Munsters was extraordinarily hard for Fred to do. He was already 6-foot-5-and-a-half inches and they put him in buildup shoes to bring him up to about 7 feet, and Herman’s padded outfit weighed about 50 pounds.

And, of course, makeup that took hours to put on every day. Because of this, Gwynne’s costume was hot, heavy, and clumpy. They used to have to cool him down with a fan between takes just so that he didn’t faint!

In 1978, Fred Gwynne related to The New York Times that while he didn’t get rich from the show, he did make money from it.

“I was working for Universal under what they called a minimum residual deal,” he said. “That means I got paid for the first years of reruns, but that’s all. I didn’t make money from residuals, but I invested a lot in Xerox while I was doing the show and I got out of the market at the right time, after several stock splits. So in that way The Munsters made me enough money to survive on, which made it an interesting ballgame. The money let me pursue what I wanted.”


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