It’s October, so in the days ahead you will be hearing Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s Monster Mash more times than you care to count! As Halloween approaches, I am reminded of the great Universal Monster Movies of the 1930’s and 1940’s! I’m not sure who did this fantastic artwork, but I think it’s awesome!
This blog isn’t about the movie monsters. However, as I thought on them, I thought about a very unique thing that happened on television in the mid-1960’s that has a monster tie-in. Back in 1964, two monster-themed TV shows debuted on TV – coincidentally, they both debuted the same week. One show aired on CBS and the other aired on ABC. The two shows, of course, were The Munsters and The Addams Family.
The Munsters featured a monster family that was loosely based on the Universal Monsters.
Fred Gwynne played Herman Munster (based on Frankenstein), Yvonne De Carlo played Lily (based on the Bride of Frankenstein, Al Lewis played Grandpa Munster (based on Count Dracula), Butch Patrick is Eddie Munster (based on the Wolfman) and Marilyn Munster (played by Pat Priest and Beverly Owen) was the completely normal niece (and freak of the family).
The Addams Family and the characters on the show were based off the cartoon characters of Charles Addams, which appeared in The New Yorker Magazine.
So how do you describe the Addams Family? The best way I can is to quote the theme song – “They’re creepy & they’re kookie!” John Astin is Gomez Addams. Carolyn Jones is his wife Morticia. Jackie Coogan is hilarious as Uncle Fester. Marie Blake is Grandmama. Ted Cassidy is Lurch, the butler. Lisa Loring and Ken Weatherwax are the Addams children Wednesday and Pugsley.
I remember thinking the exterior shots of their homes really set the mood for what was inside each of them. Both shows had fantastic sets.
While both shows share a “horror/monster” theme, they were both comedies. Both were funny (I found the Munsters a bit more humorous). Having these crazy families interact with “normal” people led to wonderful comedy situations. What is really great about these shows is watching familiar faces pop up as guest stars. Harvey Korman, Bernie Koppel, Paul Lynde, and so many other stars appeared on these shows.
Both also had awesome theme songs! The Munsters instrumental has an awesome guitar melody. Fall Out Boy sampled the theme song in their hit song “Uma Thurman” recently. The Addams Family theme song is still used to get audiences at sporting events to snap or clap along with it. The great Vic Mizzy composed it!
Both shows began the same week in 1964, but even more coincidental, they both left the airwaves on the same week two years later!
If you want to read some fantastic books on both shows, may I suggest two from my Facebook friend and TV historian, Stephen Cox? Both are available on Amazon …
The Addams Family has had greater success with future incarnations, including blockbuster films. The Munsters had a couple TV reunion shows, and a recent flop on TV (Mockingbird Lane). They both still air in reruns and are still as funny today.
These two shows always seem to show up in the “Ginger or Mary Ann” type debate questions. So I guess I will wrap up by asking – Addams Family or Munsters? Which was your favorite and why??