Fred Gwynne

Frederick Hubbard "Fred" GwynneFrederick Hubbard “Fred” Gwynne (10 July 1926 – 2 July 1993) was an American actor. Gwynne is best known for his roles as Francis Muldoon and Herman Munster in the 1960s sitcoms Car 54, Where Are You? and The Munsters, respectively, and as Jud Crandall in “Pet Semetary.” He is also recognized by many as Judge Chamberlain Haller from the 1992 comedy film My Cousin Vinny, his final role.
Gwynne joined the Brattle Theatre Repertory Company after graduation, then moved to New York City. To support himself, Gwynne worked as a copywriter for J. Walter Thompson, resigning in 1952 upon being cast in his first Broadway role, a gangster in a comedy called Mrs. McThing, which starred Helen Hayes.
In 1955, Gwynne made a memorable appearance on The Phil Silvers Show, in the episode entitled “The Eating Contest,” as the character Private Honigan, whose depressive eating binges are exploited by Sgt. Bilko, who seeks prize money by entering Honigan in an eating contest. Gwynne’s Fred Gwynnesecond appearance on The Phil Silvers Show (in the episode “For The Birds” in 1956) and many other shows led writer-producer Nat Hiken to cast him in the sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? as Patrolman Francis Muldoon, opposite Joe E. Ross. During the two-season run of the program he met longtime friend and later co-star, Al Lewis. Gwynne was 6 ft 5 in tall, an attribute that contributed to his being cast as Herman Munster, a goofy parody of Frankenstein’s monster, in the sitcom The Munsters. For his role he had to wear 40 or 50 lbs of padding, makeup, and 4-inch elevator shoes. His face was painted a bright violet because it captured the most light on the black-and-white film. Gwynne was known for his sense of humor and retained fond recollections of Herman, claiming in later life, ” … I might as well tell you the truth. I love old Herman Munster. Much as I try not to, I can’t stop liking that fellow.” After his experience in The Munsters, however, he found himself identified with the character, which led to difficulty in being cast in different kinds of roles. For example, in 1969, he was cast as Jonathan Brewster, a Frankenstein monster-like character, in a television production of Arsenic and Old Lace.
He displayed his singing voice in a Hallmark Hall of Fame made-for-television production, The Littlest Angel (1969), and went on to perform in a variety of roles on stage and screen. In 1974, he appeared in the role of Big Daddy in the Broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. In 1975 he played the Stage Manager in Our Town at the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut. He returned to Broadway in 1976 as Colonel J. C. Kinkaid in two parts of A Texas Trilogy. In 1984, he tried out for the part of Henry on the show Punky Brewster. He is said to have withdrawn from the audition in frustration when the auditioner identified him as Herman Munster rather than by his real name. The role of Henry subsequently went to George Gaynes.