Search Obituaries
Legends & Legacies View More

Fred Gwynne: Munster and More

Published: 7/2/2013
Content Image

Character actor Fred Gwynne died July 2, 1993 – 20 years ago today. We look at the roles – Munster and otherwise – that made him a star. (Getty Images / Silver Screen Collection)

Fred Gwynne's biggest role was one that rendered him virtually unrecognizable. Wearing 50 pounds of padding, elevator shoes to add four inches to his already-considerable 6-foot-5-inch frame, full face makeup and a square wig, Gwynne became Herman Munster, the genial patriarch of TV's The Munsters.

Another actor might resent being remembered primarily as a made-up monster, but not Gwynne. As he said of the character years later, "...I might as well tell you the truth. I love old Herman Munster. Much as I try not to, I can't stop liking that fellow."

Publicity photo from the television program The Munsters for Halloween. Pictured from left: Al Lewis (Grandpa), Beverley Owen (Marilyn), and Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster). (Wikimedia Commons/CBS Television)
The Munsters from left: Al Lewis as Grandpa, Beverley Owen as Marilyn, and Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster. (Wikimedia Commons / CBS Television)

We think it's great that Gwynne and Munster got along, but we're also glad he had the chance to play a variety of other parts. Even if the Frankenstein wannabe was his most famous creation, there was more to Gwynne than a flattop. Here are a few other roles to remember him by.

Gwynne's big breakout was sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? Though the show lasted only two seasons, it got Gwynne noticed – and gave him a chance to show off his singing skills.

Throughout the 1980s and '90s, Gwynne found big screen success with a series of supporting roles. His turn as heavily-Maine-accented neighbor Jud Crandall was a highlight of the spooky 1989 adaptation of Stephen King's Pet Sematary.

In 1992's My Cousin Vinny, Gwynne brought gravitas to a courtroom beset by Joe Pesci's northerly ways and lawyerly antics.

Gwynne died July 2, 1993, of pancreatic cancer, just a little more than a year after My Cousin Vinny was released. It was his final role – and it is a great one to remember him by. Of course, so is Jud Crandall, or Patrolman Francis Muldoon, or even Herman Munster.

Written by Linnea Crowther

Our Picks
Legacy.com and its newspaper affiliates publish obituaries for approximately 75 percent of people who die in the U.S. – updated continuously throughout each day – as well as government records for all U.S. deaths. Find an obituary, sign a Guest Book or build an interactive memorial. Get directions to a funeral home, order flowers or donate to charity. Read advice from experts or participate in online discussions. Thanks for visiting Legacy.com – Where life stories live on. We welcome your feedback.