The Munsters is a 1960s American family television sitcom depicting the home life of a family of monsters. It starred Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster, Yvonne De Carlo as his wife, Lily Munster, Al Lewis as Grandpa, ButchPatrick as Eddie Munster, Breverly Owen as Marilyn Munster (1963), Patricia Ann Priest as marilyn Munster (1963-1966). The series was a satire of both traditional monster movies and popular family entertainment of the era, such as Leave It to Beaver. It ran concurrently with The Addams Family. Although the Addamses were well-to-do, the Munsters were a more blue-collar family.
The idea of a family of comical monsters was first suggested to Universal Studios in the late 1940s by animator Bob Clampett, who wanted to do a series of cartoons. The project didn't see development until the early 1960s, when a treatment or 'format' for a similar idea was submitted to Universal Studios by Rocky & Bullwinkle writers Allan Burns and Chris Hayward. This format was later handed to writers Norm Liebman and Ed Haas, who wrote a pilot script, Love Thy Monster. For some time, there were executives who believed the series should be made as a cartoon and others who wanted to see it made using live-action. Finally, a presentation was filmed by MCA Television for CBS, using live-action.
The series aired at night once a week in black-and-white on the CBS Television Network from September 24, 1964 to May 12, 1966, for 70 episodes. It was canceled after ratings dropped to an all-time low due to the premiere of ABC's Batman, which was in full color. Though ratings were low during its initial two-year run, The Munsters grew in popularity during decades of syndication. This popularity warranted a spin-off series, as well as several films, including one with a theatrical release.
The Munster Family:
The family, while decidedly odd, consider themselves fairly typical working-class Americans of the era. Herman, like many husbands of the 1960s, is the sole wage-earner in the family, though Lily and Grandpa make (short-lived) attempts to earn a little money from time to time. While Herman is the title "head of household," Lily actually makes most of the decisions.
Despite superficial similarities of eccentric characters incongruent with their communities and a generally gothic look, this and Addams Family were actually different in the style of series, and the characters. Overall, the characters of The Addams Family were wealthy eccentrics with a gothic look who generally stayed at home, while the Munsters were a blue-collar and generally outgoing family of legendary monsters.
The costumes and appearances of the family members other than Marilyn were based on the classic monsters of Universal Studios films from the 1930s and 1940s. Universal produced The Munsters, as well, and thus were able to use these copyrighted designs, including their idiosyncratic version of Frankenstein's monster for Herman. Other studios were free to make films with the Frankenstein creature, for example, but could not use the costume and style of makeup originally created by Jack Pierce for the 1931 Universal Studios film Frankenstein.