Who was your favorite creepy television couple? Was it Herman and Lily or Morticia and Gomez? Director Robert Corsini uncovers behind-the-scenes facts about both shows and their popularity in 2002’s “Behind the Fame: The Munsters/Addams Family.”
Surprisingly, some people think the “The Munsters” and “The Addams Family” are the same show. Superficial plot similarities and release dates that almost coincide could explain this. Both shows were about eccentric gothic families dealing with daily life struggles like raising children and fitting in with society. The characters featured in both shows drew inspiration from classic monster movies, vampires, werewolves, witches and even Frankenstein. They both took a humorous approach with a dark twist. How were they different, and how did they end up being so similar?
Meet the Munsters
“The Munsters” was a television sitcom that aired on CBS for two seasons. Its debut on September 24, 1964 marked the beginning of a seventy-episode run that ended on May 12, 1966. The show was intended to be a satirical look at monster movies of the era, but the characters were more amusing than scary, and the show’s content was wholesome and family oriented. The starring roles were filled by actors Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster and Yvonne DeCarlo as Lily, his wife. Eddie, played by Butch Patrick, was their only child. Other characters included Grandpa, Lily’s father, who was played by Al Lewis; and Marilyn, Lily’s niece, who was played by Beverly Owen and later Pat Priest. The family lived at 1313 Mockingbird Lane. Produced by the same creators as “Leave It to Beaver,” “The Munsters” was an instant classic. However, during its initial run, ratings were disappointing. With the popularity of color television shows, black-and-white shows had tough competition. In later years, the show found a significant fan base in syndication.
Who Were the Addams Family?
“The Addams Family” series was based on characters featured in Charles Addams’ “New Yorker” cartoons. Like “The Munsters,” it was shot in black-and-white and only survived two seasons. The show aired on ABC from September 18, 1964 to April 8, 1966 and included a total of 64 episodes. It had a number of beloved characters. Gomez Addams, the husband and father, was played by John Astin. A wealthy lawyer who rejoiced in losing his cases, Gomez was a devoted romantic who spoke French to his wife and could perform complex math calculations in his head. His wife, Morticia, was splayed by Carolyn Jones. An attractive and aristocratic woman, Morticia played the shamisen, grew man-eating plants and cut the blooms from her roses to admire the thorny stems. She was always adorned in a long, black v-neck dress, and her ring held cyanide powder. Other characters include Uncle Fester, the eccentric, bald uncle played by Jackie Coogan, and Lurch, the family’s tall and deep-voiced butler played by Ted Cassidy. Pugsley and Wednesday Addams are Morticia and Gomez’s children, and Thing is a disembodied hand that appears from various boxes placed around the house. Cousin Itt is a short creature covered in fur. He wears sunglasses and gloves and speaks in unintelligible sounds. Three full-length feature films based on “The Addams Family” characters have been made, including “The Addams Family” in 1991 and “Addams Family Values” in 1993. A video game based on the film was created for home computer and handheld platforms.
Watch the Documentary to Learn More
Sit back with your favorite witches’ brew to learn more about how the directors, producers and stars of these two delightful shows made it all come together at a time when the subject matter and genre was extremely unique. Are you curious about who was hiding under Cousin Itt fur? Did you know that a character on “The Munsters” was replaced, and hardly anyone noticed? How did makeup artists struggle with lighting, and why did Fred Gwynne’s costume weigh so much? Hear from former actors and industry leaders who witnessed the growth and development of these two spooky shows. Robert Corsini’s “Behind the Fame: The Munsters/Addams Family” will take you down dark corridors of the past to relive childhood fascination and fun while you learn the true story behind two groundbreaking television series that left their marks on generations past and present.