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Herman Munster

Herman Munster, 5th Earl of Shroudshire (born "Herman" alone), is a fictional character in the CBS sitcom The Munsters, played by Fred Gwynne. The patriarch of the Munster household, Herman is an entity much like Frankenstein's monster along with Lurch on the show's competitor The Addams Family.

Due to the thickness of his costume and the heat of the studio lights, Gwynne continually fought enormous weight loss from perspiration, even after consuming gallons of lemonade and salt tablets and using an air hose inside of his costume.

Origins

In the context of the series, Herman was begun in 1815 (after the close of the War of 1812) at the University of Heidelberg by Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Work on him was finally completed in around 1850 (neither Lily nor Grandpa are quite sure when) along with his twin brother Charlie. Leaving Germany for Great Britain at a young age, Herman was adopted by the Munsters of Munster Hall, a noble family living in the fictitious Shroudshire, England.

At some point Herman moved to Transylvania (a region in Romania), where he met Lily Dracula. In 1865 (technically at the age of 15, but physically older) Herman married Lily, and eventually the couple and Grandpa (Lily's father) moved to America, where Herman joined the U.S. Army, fighting in World War II.

In the series

Herman is employed by Gateman, Goodbury and Graves, a funeral home in Mockingbird Heights, having started out as a "nail boy." Herman's co-workers sometimes remark on his height and strength, but otherwise do not appear to find his appearance and color (green) out of the ordinary.

Description

Herman is a good-natured buffoon. Although enormously old, he behaves rather childishly, often throwing temper tantrums.

Herman is incredibly strong, once lifting a solid metal demolition ball casually with one hand. He is almost immovable; a number of times, cars have run into him without causing him injury. A safe fell on his head ("John Doe Munster") and though it did not hurt him, it gave him amnesia. When asked how much he weighs, Herman says: "Three spins," meaning the dial on the scale goes around three times. In the episode "Herman's Lawsuit," his driver's license gives his weight as 380 (lbs.), height as 7 feet, 3 inches, and eyes as brown. Herman (and the rest of the family) considers himself handsome even though he can crack a mirror by looking at it, once even cracking a shiny frying pan he looked into. When frustrated (often), he tends to stamp like a child having a tantrum — causing plaster to shower down from the ceiling. His strength is especially useful around "the Parlor" -- he can lift caskets unassisted.

In other media

In 1964 Mattel came out with a Herman Munster doll that could speak 11 "Munstrous" phrases at random with the pull of his "Chatty Ring". This was a spin off of their highly successful Chatty Cathy doll for whom the talking mechanism had been invented. The Herman Munster doll was on the market for 2 years, as was a Herman Munster talking hand puppet. Both toys had the same head and hands made of a composite green vinyl Mattel called, "Plastisol". These two Munster toys are great favorites with collectors today and command top dollar at toy shows and online auctions. When Herman's Chatty Ring was pulled he would say phrases such as, "Hello there, I'm your new babysitter" or "I like the Beatles...real beetles" all in Fred Gwynne's voice.

In The Munsters Today, he is given a younger brother named Frank. And in the 1995 movie Here Come the Munsters he is given a sister named Elsa who resembles the Bride of Frankenstein. She is also married to Dr. Jekyll, who transforms into Mr. Hyde.

In the Jurassic 5 song "What's Golden", Chali 2na introduces himself in saying, "Well, it's the verbal Herman Munster."

The Dana Carvey stand-up special Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies features a bit where John Kerry tells Ronald Reagan (portrayed as an oracle) that he would like to be president. After being rejected, Kerry asks why, and Reagan tells him that it's because he "[looks] like Herman Munster! Your face is 19% longer than anatomically thought possible! Now get the fuck out!"

Notes

References

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