"Grampa Munster" Al Lewis dies

TDWoj

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'Grandpa Munster' Al Lewis Dies at 95

By LARRY McSHANE

NEW YORK (AP) - Al Lewis, the cigar-chomping patriarch of ``The Munsters'' whose work as a basketball scout, restaurateur and political candidate never eclipsed his role as Grandpa from the television sitcom, died after years of failing health. He was 95.

Lewis, with his wife at his bedside, passed away Friday night, said Bernard White, program director at WBAI-FM, where the actor hosted a weekly radio program. White made the announcement on the air during the Saturday slot where Lewis usually appeared.

``To say that we will miss his generous, cantankerous, engaging spirit is a profound understatement,'' White said.

Lewis, sporting a somewhat cheesy Dracula outfit, became a pop culture icon playing the irascible father-in-law to Fred Gwynne's ever-bumbling Herman Munster on the 1964-66 television show. He was also one of the stars of another classic TV comedy, playing Officer Leo Schnauzer on ``Car 54, Where Are You?''

But Lewis' life off the small screen ranged far beyond his acting antics. A former ballplayer at Thomas Jefferson High School, he achieved notoriety as a basketball talent scout familiar to coaching greats like Jerry Tarkanian and Red Auerbach.

He operated a successful Greenwich Village restaurant, Grandpa's, where he was a regular presence - chatting with customers, posing for pictures, signing autographs.

Just two years short of his 90th birthday, a ponytailed Lewis ran as the Green Party candidate against incumbent Gov. George Pataki. Lewis campaigned against draconian drug laws and the death penalty, while going to court in a losing battle to have his name appear on the ballot as ``Grandpa Al Lewis.''

He didn't defeat Pataki, but managed to collect more 52,000 votes.

Lewis was born Alexander Meister in upstate New York before his family moved to Brooklyn, where the 6-foot-1 teen began a lifelong love affair with basketball. He later became a vaudeville and circus performer, but his career didn't take off until television did the same.

Lewis, as Officer Schnauzer, played opposite Gwynne's Officer Francis Muldoon in ``Car 54, Where Are You?'' - a comedy about a Bronx police precinct that aired from 1961-63. One year later, the duo appeared together in ``The Munsters,'' taking up residence at the fictional 1313 Mockingbird Lane.

The series, about a family of clueless creatures plunked down in middle America, was a success and ran through 1966. It forever locked Lewis in as the memorably twisted character; decades later, strangers would greet him on the street with shouts of ``Grandpa!''

Unlike some television stars, Lewis never complained about getting typecast and made appearances in character for decades.

``Why would I mind?'' he asked in a 1997 interview. ``It pays my mortgage.''

Lewis rarely slowed down, opening his restaurant and hosting his WBAI radio program. At one point during the '90s, he was a frequent guest on the Howard Stern radio show, once sending the shock jock diving for the delay button by leading an undeniably obscene chant against the Federal Communications Commission.

He also popped up in a number of movies, including the acclaimed ``They Shoot Horses, Don't They?'' and ``Married to the Mob.'' Lewis reprised his role of Schnauzer in the movie remake of ``Car 54,'' and appeared as a guest star on television shows such as ``Taxi,'' ``Green Acres'' and ``Lost in Space.''

But in 2003, Lewis was hospitalized for an angioplasty. Complications during surgery led to an emergency bypass and the amputation of his right leg below the knee and all the toes on his left foot. Lewis spent the next month in a coma.

A year later, he was back offering his recollections of a seminal punk band on the DVD ``Ramones Raw.''

He is survived by his wife, Karen Ingenthron-Lewis, three sons and four grandchildren.
 

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ORANGATUANG

Wildfire
Loved that show ..The munsters, what an shame he couldnt get to the big one..Thanks TD..Question for you are all the other cast members other then Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis still alive?..
 

Mama San

Administrator
Fred Gwynne died on July 2, 1993 in Taneytown, Maryland, after a battle with cancer of the pancreas. He was just eight days shy of turning 67 years old. He is sorely missed by we Baby Boomers who grew up delighted by his Officer Francis Muldoon and Herman Munster, and were gratified by his late-career renaissance on film.
May he rest in peace.

Yvonne De Carlo's (Lilly) Last big-screen appearance was in The Sorority House Murders (1993). She was born Margaret Yvonne Middleton
in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on September 1, 1922.

Butch Patrick (Eddie) Was born Patrick Alan Lilley on 2 August 1953.
He tried retiring from show business, but when money ran short, he returned with a musical group called Eddie and the Monsters. He also worked with MTV to create "The Basement Tapes", a program designed to give exposure to unsigned musical acts.

I couldn't find anything on the little girl, "Eddie's" sister.

God bless,
Mama san
 

TDWoj

Administrator
Staff member
Marilyn Munster, as I recall, was not a little girl, but a teenager, and older than Eddie because she went out on dates. She was also Hermann's niece, and the only "normal" person in the family. She was played by two actresses: Beverley Owen (briefly, in the first season) and Pat Priest, for the rest of the show's run.

Pat Priest pretty much retired from acting after 1976 - her last appearance when she was still working was as Sue-Ann Nivens' sister on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She appeared as a cameo for the TV movie Here Come The Munsters, as an interviewee on the A&E Biography of The Munsters, 2003, and in the documentary Al Lewis: Forever Grandpa in 2000.

Beverley Owen had a very short career in acting, with only a few guest spots on TV. Her last job was as a cast regular from 1971-1972 on the American soap opera, Another World.

Gene LeBell - yes, THAT Gene LeBell - was stunt coordinator on the show.
 

Mama San

Administrator
TD,
You're right. I was confusing the Munsters with
Addam's Family. My bad!!
God bless,
Mama san
 
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