Thursday, February 25, 2010

Eddie Munster aka Butch Patrick by Helen Darras

Helen Darras. Eddie Munster aka Butch Patrick: The Untold Story of His Early Hollywood-a, Could-a, Should-a: An Authorized Biography. East Setauket, N.Y.: (no publisher listed), 2007.

Butch Patrick portrayed Eddie Munster on “The Munsters” which premiered in 1964. He was born in 1953 to parents who divorced shortly after his birth. Butch did not see his father again until he was 8 years old. His mother remarried and her new husband adopted Butch.

Butch’s mother took her 2 year old daughter to a modeling agent. She brought Butch along. The agent liked Butch’s look and took some pictures of him as well. Acting jobs emerged. The agent changed Butch’s last name of Lilley to Patrick.

Butch’s first movie was “The Two Little Bears” in 1961. He worked for six weeks and missed many of his Second Grade classes. Butch got billing over another child actor in the movie, Donnie Carter. Donnie already had several acting credits. Donnie was upset and pushed Butch into a banister and knocked out a tooth. After that, Patrick did not want to act again. Yet, the TV show “General Hospital” gave him a recurring part. Patrick found live television upsetting yet he did it. The experience led him to later expect other actors to perform well in one take.

Patrick discovered that, as a child actor, he was required to be provided with three hours of education in 20 minute minimum segments with one hour for lunch and one hour of free time. A child whose school work was poor could be denied a work permit.

“The Munsters” pilot was filed with Happy Derman in the role of Eddie Munster. Universal dropped Derman, who would do two TV episodes on other shows and then leave acting.

Several hundred children auditioned for the role. Patrick won the job. Patrick’s mother and step father Ken Hunt moved to Washington, D.C. as Hunt played baseball for the Washington Senators. Patrick lived with his aunt and uncle while filming “The Munsters” and flew back and forth between Los Angeles and Washington on weekends. This was a tough adjustment for a 11 year old. Patrick earned more money than did Hunt.

Beverly Owen portrayed Marilyn Munster, who as Lilly Munster’s sister technically probably shouldn’t have had Munster as her character’s last name. Owen wanted to return home to New York. She was replaced after 13 weeks by Pat Priest. This was the first time a successful TV show replaced a character with a new actor where the ratings did not decrease. 27 year old Pat Priest played a 17 year old.

“The Munsters” was successful because many people could identify with the tales of social outcasts trying to live normal lives.

Patrick’s character wore a hair piece, fake eyebrows, and make up. A dwarf served as his stand in for lighting purposes while Patrick was being schooled. By law, he had to leave the set by 4 pm following a 7 am start. Clens was used to take off the make up. The ears were for one time use and discarded.

Patrick received $650 for each episode. None of the actors in “The Munsters” received residuals on the many reruns past the first ten reruns. 25% of his earnings were placed in a trust fund. The trust fund was to be made available upon age 21. Patrick asked the court at age 19 for the trust fund since the voting age had been lowered to 18. The court gave him the money, which he promptly spent.

Patrick does receive residuals from his movies and for an episode he did of “The Simpsons”. He once received a residual check for his Simpsons role for eight cents.

Patrick dated Lisa Loring who was on the series “The Addams Family”. Many compared the two shows. Patrick notes “The Munsters” were monsters living as normal people and “The Addams Family” were normal people living as monsters.

Cast member Fred Gwynne refused to attend Monday script readings as he viewed them as non-essential. Gwynne was also having personal problems as his son had drowned a year before the show began. Ironically, his wife as well as cast member Al Lewis’s wife and Butch’s mother were all pregnant and expecting children around the same time.

Cast member Yvonne DeCarlo had car expert George Barris create a Monster-style Jaguar for her. DeCarlo gave Patrick a cigarette box for Christmas. DeCarlo’s husband, Bob Morgan, played a police officer on the show. Morgan had been run over by a train while filming a stunt in the movie “How the West Was Won”. DeCarlo kept working and took the role on “The Munsters” to help with her husband’s recuperation.

Spot, the fire breathing Munster pet, once set Patrick’s fake hair and eyebrows on fire. Patrick often had the line “gee, Spot”, where he was then too young to realize its double entendre meaning.

Mel Blanc and Bob Hastings had un-credited roles as the voice of Charlie the Raven.

When Leo Durocher, manager of the Chicago Cubs, appeared on an episode, Patrick asked Durocher to sign his stepdad Kenny Hunt. Durocher gave Hunt a spring training look and Hunt was signed for the Cubs’ triple A team.

The exterior of the Munsters house was on the Universal lot on Colonial Street. Universal began tram tours in 1964 which helped keep Universal solvent. The trams received priority over the outside filming.

Patrick avoided alienating his siblings and relatives and never had them visit him on the set. He didn’t want them to feel he was gloating. Visitors were allowed only during script readings on Mondays and Tuesdays. Visitors were not allowed during filming to avoid their making sounds.

After “The Munsters”, Patrick found it hard to get roles and the roles he received weren’t very good, in his opinion. Patrick turned to drugs and reckless behavior, which included shoplifting and aborted pregnancies.

After “The Munsters”, Patrick did six episodes of “My Three Sons” and was in the TV series “Lidsville”.

In 1969, Patrick filmed the movie “Wild Pack” in Brazil. He was stunned when, after no advance warning, the shooting include chopping off a live goat’s head while it was next to him. The movie’s producer was involved in a nasty divorced and decided not to release the movie so his ex-wife could not get any money from it.

Patrick was on an episode of “The Dating Game”. He went on a chaperoned date afterwards. He discovered it was the chaperones who needed chaperones.

Patrick learning while filming “Ironside” that star Raymond Burr read his lines off a Teleprompter while the rest of the cast had to memorize their lines.


Dan OB said...

The character Marilyn Munster was Lilly's niece, the daughter of Lilly's sister. But, you're right, she shouldn't have had the Munster last name. I believe in the development stage the character was Marilyn Mundane but switched to Munster for the show.

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny said...

Thank you for the further information. I appreciate learning more about the series. I guess one should not expect normality in a TV series about such a dsyfunctional family. (The Munsters were a bit dysfunctional, I would say.) I appreciate your reading and contributing useful facts.