10 colorful facts about 'Munster, Go Home!'

The Munsters were originally meant to be in color.

Image: The Everett Collection

The Munsters belong in full color. Sure, the black-and-white television series had an appropriately gothic vibe and brought to mind the classic Universal horror movies on which the characters were based. But this was essentially a live-action cartoon — in the middle of the 1960s, as color television was booming.

In fact, you can blame color television for the death of The Munsters. In early 1966, Batman was the hottest show on television. It was a comic book brought to life, a rainbow exploding on the screens of all those new RCA sets in American living rooms. ABC's Batman also happened to air opposite CBS's The Munsters. In comparison to the colorful Caped Crusader, the Munsters clan suddenly looked… well, as dusty and cob-webbed as their house. That spring, after only two seasons, the plug was pulled on The Munsters.

But that was not the end of Herman and family! A month after the show's final episode, Munster, Go Home! premiered in movie theaters. Unfortunately, it was kind of a bomb. Batman: The Movie made more money that summer. (Foiled again!) 

Munster, Go Home! did, at last, deliver the Munsters in glorious Technicolor.

Let's take a closer look.

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1. The idea dates back to 1943.


The idea for a family of comedic Universal monsters dates back to the heyday of Universal monster pictures. In the early 1940s, the studio was still flying high off its monster franchises. It had recently launched The Wolf Man and The Phantom of the Opera. Lon Cheney Jr. was shambling along in The Ghost of Frankenstein. In 1943, Bob Clampett, an animator who worked on Looney Tunes cartoons, pitched the idea of a funny Monster family to Universal. After a couple years developing the concept, nothing came of it for two decades. Even in the 1960s, as interest picked back up, some at the studio believed it should be a cartoon.

Image: Universal Pictures

2. The original title of the TV show was 'Love Thy Monster.'


The original pilot script for Universal's live-action monster comedy called Love Thy Monster, written by scribes Norm Liebman and Ed Haas. The show was originally conceived as a color series. Black-and-white was chosen, in part, because it was cheaper. So, in some way, Munster, Go Home! was a fulfillment of the original vision.

Image: NBCUniversal Television Distribution

3. The minds behind the character Dudley Do-Right created 'The Munsters.'


Allan Burns and Chris Hayward were the creators of The Munsters sitcom. The duo had previously worked together on Jay Ward cartoons. In addition to writing for The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, the two co-created Dudley Do-Right, along with Alex Anderson. Burns would later co-create The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda.

Image: The Everett Collection

4. It was produced by the creators of 'Leave It to Beaver.'


Gee, Wally! Munster, Go Home! was written and produced by Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher. That twosome had previously created Leave It to Beaver, from 1957–63, before joining The Munsters as producers in 1964.

Image: The Everett Collection

5. Herman had a different wife in the pilot.


Shock! Herman was not always married to lovely Lily. In the original pilot film, a 16-minute short used to sell the idea, Herman (Fred Gwynne) had a wife named Phoebe, played by Joan Marshall. The actress is perhaps best known for her appearance in the early Star Trek episode "Court Martial."

6. The theme song had lyrics.


That rockin' surf riff made for one of the best TV instrumentals of the decades. Only, it was not always an instrumental. The 1964 album At Home With The Munsters featured the track "At The Munsters (Theme Song With Words)." So, how did it go? "One night I dared peak through their window screen / My hair turned white at such a crazy scene / Because every evening its Halloween / At the Munsters, at the Munsters," the vocals declared.

Image: Golden Records

7. Lily had a makeover.


Speaking of hair turning white — or the opposite, in fact — let's discuss the look of Lily Munster (Yvonne De Carlo). In the early episodes, Lily had a different look. Her original necklace, a sort of star shape, was replaced with her iconic bat pendant. Her eyebrows were given a more upward curl. Munster, Go Home! also gave us a good look at her green skin tone, which was eventually made pale white in subsequent reboots.

Image: The Everett Collection

8. The original Marilyn quit acting after 13 episodes — and a third Marilyn was used in the movie.


No Munster family member changed like Marilyn, Lily's niece. Initially, Beverley Owen (pictured here) filled the role. Midway through season one, Owen quit the business entirely, to get married and focus on her family. She would later earn a masters degree in Early American History. Pat Priest popularized the role of Marilyn thereafter on the show. However, Universal recast the character for Munster, Go Home! The studio inserted Debbie Watson — 12 years younger — into the role, in hope of building the contracted starlet's career.

Image: The Everett Collection

9. The Drag-U-La was made with an illegally purchased coffin.


Reportedly, according to legend, a real coffin was used to make the awesome DRAG-U-LA hot rod seen in Munster, Go Home! The only catch that it was supposedly illegal to purchase a coffin without a death certificate in the state of California at the time. Richard “Korky” Korkes, the man who built the dragster, claimed he passed money under the table to a funeral home in North Hollywood, who left a coffin for him outside the back door.

Image: Universal Pictures

10. An Easter special was lost for three decades.


Munster, Go Home! was not the first Munsters adventure produced outside of the series. A year earlier, between seasons one and two, the Munsters were part of the Marineland Carnival TV special. Herman fed the dolphins. The special was lost until 1997. Check out some promotional photos.

Image: The Everett Collection

SEE MORE: 8 surprising facts about the great Fred Gwynne


The man behind Herman Munster wrote children's books. READ MORE

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BorisK 6 months ago
2 comments ... re: #3 and 'The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show' ... Bill Scott, who with Jay Ward created Rocky/Bullwinkle, was a hippie and also Sr. Warden at our Episcopal Church in Tujunga (Church of the Ascension) from the late 50s to early 60s. I was only 5 but remember him doing Bullwinkle for us all the time (he did that one and many voices for the series. Comment #2 - Beverly Owen was the hottest Marilyn ever, period.
CoreyC 7 months ago
It would have been a disaster if The Munsters would have been in color.
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