Friends, when I was growing up – this would be around the time the Dinosaurs were wandering the Earth – both The Munsters as well as The Addams Family were featured on weekday afternoons on WTBS the Superstation. In my youth I was always drawn more to the former as it featured monster archetypes that were similar to the Universal Monster films that I adored – it wasn’t until I hit my teens that I started to realize that The Addams Family was by far the funnier television show. Now please do not get me wrong, both shows are quite enjoyable but I think the wit and charm of the TV adaptation of Charles Addams darkly hilarious illustrations wins out in the end – it actually did better in the Nielsen ratings for what that might be worth.
Were you aware though that CBS initially played around with the idea that The Munsters should be filmed in color? In addition from what I’ve found online – there were two camps of Executives at CBS with differing opinions as to whether the TV series should even be live action – some apparently felt it would work better as a Saturday morning cartoon offering. The idea for The Munsters began back in the early ’60s thanks to none other than Allan Burns (The Mary Tyle Moore Show) and Chris Hayward (My Mother the Car) – who also happened to be writers on The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. This was of course pitched to Universal Studios as an animated series – the idea for the show later crossed the desks of Norm Liebman and Ed Haas who crafted a pilot script entitled Love Thy Monster.
One of the biggest changes from this pilot besides being in color is the cast – you still have the late and great Fred Gwynne as Herman and Al Lewis as Grandpa with Beverly Owen playing Marilyn – but Nate “Happy” Derman was cast as Eddie with Joan Marshall (Star Trek, Maverick) as Phoebe. When the series was picked up the part of Eddie would be played by Butch Patrick with Phoebe becoming Lily and portrayed by the iconic Yvonne De Carlo.
This unaired pilot for The Munsters is fascinating to watch as many of the elements that would be used in the actual series are there… but there is enough that doesn’t work that you can see why Executives called for some changes.
By the way the music used during the title sequence for The Munsters pilot was taken from the 1963 film The Thrill of It All – which starred James Garner and Doris Day.