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Fred Gwynne was an actor known for his roles as Herman Munster on the sitcom The Munsters and as the crusty judge in the film My Cousin Vinny.
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Born Frederick Hubbard Gwynne on July 10, 1926, in New York City, Fred Gwynne is perhaps best known for his roles in the 1960s sitcomsCar 54, Where Are You?andThe Munsters. Making his film debut with a bit part in On The Waterfront, Gwynne went on to later fame as the cantankerous judge in My Cousin Vinny.
Actor. Born Frederick Hubbard Gwynne on July 10, 1926 in New York City, is perhaps best known for his roles in the 1960s sitcoms Car 54, Where Are You? and The Munsters. His father was a successful stockbroker and his mother was a former cartoonist. In 1932, the happy household changed dramatically when Fred's father died from complications after routine surgery. After high school, the young Gwynne, who stood at a lumbering, rail-thin six-foot, five-inches, enlisted in the Navy and served on a sub chaser during World War II.
Upon his discharge from the Navy, Gwynne attended the New York Phoenix School of Design, then entered Harvard University on the G.I. Bill. There he became president of The Harvard Lampoon, and drew cartoons for the popular periodical, a talent acquired from his mother. However, after performing several of The Hasty Pudding Club's farcical productions, the young man with the powerful baritone voice realized his future was upon the stage. Eager to learn his craft, the Harvard graduate joined the Brattle Theater Repertory Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he played a variety of characters in numerous plays.
In 1951, Fred married Jean "Foxie" Reynard, whom he had met through friends. After a successful run as "Bottom" in A Midsummer Night's Dream, the young thespian and his new companion headed to New York to pursue bigger and brighter possibilities. Although most casting directors thought he was too tall and unattractive to be a leading man, he landed a supporting role in Mrs. McThing on Broadway, starring Helen Hayes. Gwynne simultaneously worked as a copywriter at the J. Walter Thompson Advertising agency to make ends meet between assignments. For the next five years he juggled his day job with numerous stage and television roles, appearing in such prestigious productions as Studio One, Kraft Theater, and The Phil Silvers Show.
In 1954, the 28-year-old made his film debut with a bit part in On The Waterfront, directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando. Gwynne's career took another surprising turn when he landed his first major Broadway role in the musical, Irma La Duce. It was during the run of the show that TV producer Nat Hiken hired Gwynne to co-star as Francis Maldoon in the NBC television series, Car 54, Where Are You?. The show was a success, though only ran from 1961-1963.
The Gwynne family now included two children: a daughter named Gaynor and a son Kieron, who was mentally handicapped and required constant care. However Fred's schedule was demanding and he spent little time at home. He was also writing and illustrating children's stories and in 1958, Best in Show, the first in a line of successful books, was published.
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