The annual Texas Pinball Festival in Frisco in March is a big deal. I was excited to go this year to see the latest machine from Stern Pinball Inc, The Munsters, unveiled in January 2019 in Las Vegas. I have great memories of the many hours I spent playing pinball games in the 1970s at the local Getty gas station with neighborhood friends. My recollections of “The Munster” reruns I watched obsessively during those years are just as happy. I loved that wacky series. Though the series lasted only 2 years, from 1964 to 1966, the show remained on the air in some form since in syndication.
Not surprisingly, the Pinball Festival was very crowded with throngs of people fighting for a turn to play their favorite games. Pinball is a national pastime and the event seemed to include every machine ever made, from the old wooden models to the newer electronic ones with complex visuals and sound effects. If pinball isn’t your thing, you may not know enthusiasts still spend hours basking in the frenetic beauty of the blinking lights and irrepressible randomness of the ball’s movements.
The Munsters – An Iconic and Timeless TV Family
The Munsters are a strange but honest blue-collar American family. The series highlights the misadventures of these friendly, but not really scary, monsters. Herman, the father played by Fred Gwynne, is Frankenstein’s monster. His wife, Lily, played by Yvonne De Carlo, and Grandpa, Lily’s father, played by Al Lewis, are vampires. Eddie, Herman’s and Lily’s son played by Butch Patrick, is a werewolf. Marilyn, played by Beverly Owen (Season 1) and Pat Priest (season 2), is their niece and the only “normal” looking one in the cast but is looked upon as the ugly duck of the family. The characters are weirdly lovable and still have a big following today.
Eddie and Marilyn Munster (aka Butch Patrick and Pat Priest)
I met Butch Patrick, age 65, and Pat Priest, age 83, who were at the festival greeting fans. Both were easily recognizable despite the passing of years. Sadly, these two are the only cast members still living. They were located, along with the Munster Koach, the car used in the series and now owned by Butch Patrick, nearby The Munsters pinball machine display.
The design of The Munsters pinball machine transports players back to 1313 Mockingbird Lane, joining the entire Munsters family. It boasts beautiful artwork inspired by the supernatural family, sounds from the TV show, and great LCD visuals. It was fun to play and provided a cool haunted pinball experience.
What a wonderful, fun walk down memory lane! If you have a chance to play The Munsters Pinball machine, let us know what you think!
13 Things You Didn’t Know About the Munsters
Want to learn some trivia about the Munsters? You’ll be a hit at your next cocktail party!
Little Known Facts About “The Munsters”
“The Munsters” is a classic American television sitcom that aired from 1964 to 1966, featuring a quirky family of monsters living in suburbia. Here are some interesting tidbits about the show:
Inspired by classic monsters
The show was a parody of classic horror films, especially Universal Pictures’ iconic monster movies. The Munster family members were inspired by characters like Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, the Wolf Man, and the Bride of Frankenstein.
Competed with “The Addams Family”
“The Munsters” and “The Addams Family” were both popular TV shows that aired during the same time, and they were often compared to each other due to their similar themes of quirky and eccentric families. The two shows even competed for ratings, but both developed a strong fan base.
The Munsters’ house was recycled
The Munster family’s iconic house at 1313 Mockingbird Lane was actually a recycled set from another classic TV show. It was previously used as the home of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson in “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.”
The character of Marilyn Munster, the “plain” human niece in the Munster family, was played by two different actresses during the show’s two-season run. Beverley Owen portrayed Marilyn in the first season, and Pat Priest took over the role for the remainder of the series.
Special effects makeup
The makeup and prosthetics used to transform the actors into monster characters were groundbreaking for the time. The talented makeup artist, Jack Pierce, who also worked on the original Universal monster films, created the iconic looks of Herman, Lily, Grandpa, and Eddie Munster.
Short-lived but beloved
Despite only running for two seasons, “The Munsters” quickly became a beloved cult classic. Its popularity has endured over the years, leading to numerous spin-offs, remakes, and merchandise.
Unaired pilot episode
The show’s original pilot episode featured different actors for both Lily and Eddie Munster. Joan Marshall played Lily, and Happy Derman played Eddie. However, the pilot never aired, and the producers implemented the changes before the show’s official debut.
Spot the dragon
The Munster family had a beloved pet dragon named Spot, who lived under the staircase. However, due to the technical challenges and costs involved in having a dragon character, Spot was seldom seen during the series.
Mockingbird Heights address
The Munsters’ address, 1313 Mockingbird Lane, became so popular that it was referenced in various other forms of media, including movies, TV shows, and comic books, paying homage to the iconic show.
“The Munsters” remains a treasured classic in television history and continues to entertain new generations with its quirky humor and lovable monster family.
Photo credits: Leslie Farin