'The Munsters' 50th Anniversary

Happy 50th anniversary to ‘The Munsters'! Here's a look back at the groovy ghoulie sitcom which made its debut today in 1964.
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The Munsters

The Munsters aired for two seasons in the 1960s, but the sitcom lives on like the undead thanks to syndication. (Photo: CBS)

1964 was a big year. Beatlemania came to America, one could buy a brand new Mustang for about $3,000, the race to the Moon was underway, and The Munsters premiered on primetime.

Starring a Frankenstein mortician and his family of ghouls, The Munsters seemed like an unlikely hit for CBS, but the lovable cast of monsters won the hearts of viewers with their supernatural spoofing of everyday life. The show starred Fred Gwynne as the gentle-hearted family patriarch Herman, Al Lewis as the aging, vampire scientist Grandpa, the beautiful movie star Yvonne De Carlo as the family’s strong center Lily Munster, Butch Patrick as werewolf son Eddie, and the “ugly” duckling Pat Priest (for 57 of the 72 episodes) as niece Marilyn — Marilyn Monster was a play on the bombshell of the times, Marilyn Monroe. In fact, CBS was so “on the fence” about if this monster family concept would work, they opted to save the $10,000 it would cost to film the series in color.

“They just don’t make men like you anymore.” - Lily Munster to Herman in "My Fair Munster" episode

But from the opening grooves of its surfadelic theme song, America fell in love with suburbia’s most frighteningly family at 1313 Mockingbird Lane. The series parodied Leave It To Beaver and Father Knows Best — the popular sitcoms of the day. It became an instant hit. The chemistry and timing between Harvard alum Gwynn and vaudeville stage actor Lewis became one of the greatest duos in television history. And we all wanted to ride in their suped-up custom ghoul-mobile and catch a glimpse of the family pet (dragon), Spot. Yes, The Munsters were the nicest monsters one could ever hope to meet. Fifty years later, the sitcom has captured a whole new generation of fans thanks to the wonder of syndication.