Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Whatever Happened to Eddie Munster?

Butch Patrick then and now
Butch Patrick the and now. 
INTERVIEW
A funny thing happened about a week ago. I was reporting that COZI TV was doing a Munsters marathon during Halloween weekend and since I’m a huge fan of the classic show, I also wrote about various trivia about the show. The story had only been live for a few hours when I received an email from Liela Lilley, the wife of Butch Patrick who played the role of Eddie Munster in the series. She informed me that Butch owns both the Munster Koach and Dragula Tribute cars (the family’s vehicles in the TV series) and has a new show in the works called Property Horrors. She also offered me an interview with Butch. Of course I jumped at the chance.

To my surprise and delight, Butch is a super-nice guy and though he’s been asked the same questions a bazillion times before, he was still very chatty with me about his early days in Hollywood. As you can see from his photos, he still has a full head of hair, though he doesn't sport a widow's peak as many of us would have assumed.

While best known for playing Eddie Munster, Butch appeared in many TV series before and after The Munsters was on the air. His first uncredited role was in The Detectives in 1961. He played Greg Howard in The Real McCoys in 1963 and appeared in many small roles before becoming Eddie in 1966. The Munsters only aired for two years and was a competitor to The Adams Family. Ironically, he played Pugsley for the TV movie, The Addams Family Fun House in 1973. He also played Gordon Dearing on My Three Sons. But what might surprise you is that Butch also played the lead role in the obscure Sid and Marty Krofft production of Lidsville in 1971 with Charles Nelson Reilly and Billie Hayes. If you’ve ever seen the show, you know that it’s about a teen who finds himself trapped in a land that is inhabited by talking hats. Sort of like Alice in Wonderland.





I asked Butch if he enjoyed working on such an odd show. Being the polite man that he is, he said that it was...okay. “I was really hoping that Caroline Ellis (from the earlier Krofft show, The Bugaloos) might show up on the set.” She didn’t. He also told me that being 18 at the time, he thought he could do the show and that none of his friends would know. “I thought that they would be sleeping in on Saturday mornings and never see me. I was wrong.”

The Munsters family
The Munster Family (Munsters.com)
Of course I had to ask about what it was like playing Eddie and interacting with the cast of The Munsters. As you can expect, it was pretty great. Fred Gwyne played Herman (dad), Yvonne DeCarlo played Lily (mom), Al Lewis was Grandpa and Pat Priest played Marilyn (cousin).

The team behind the show were also responsible for Leave it to Beaver, so they knew how to keep things very kid-friendly while he was on the set. However, the thing that Butch has the most pleasant memories of during that time was not acting on the show, but all the time he got to spend on the Universal Studios lot.

His week usually consisted of two days of rehearsals with no makeup and three days of filming with makeup. The filming days were the busiest work days, so he loved the other days because he had a lot more free time. While he had school to consider and an adult was assigned to watch over him when he wasn’t on the set, Butch said that he would try to ditch them whenever he could and wander around. “I knew how to open doors quietly when the red light was on (meaning that filming was taking place) and not be discovered or walk around the catwalks.” His favorite set to explore was the one for the movie The Phantom of the Opera.

After the mid 1970’s, Butch pretty much left Hollywood entirely. He told me that acting didn't give him a thrill and it always came naturally to him. “I wanted to race cars,” he told me.

"Did you ever become a race car driver?"

"No, I didn't."

However, he did learn how to play the bass and in 1983 he recorded the song, “Whatever Happened to Eddie” (which was set to the The Munsters theme song) with his group, Eddie and the Monsters. He also appeared in a few cameo roles for movies and TV from time to time, but often his life would always bring him back to playing that little wolfman. From 2002 to 2012, he co-hosted Macabre Theatre with Ivonna Cadaver (Natalie Popovich).

However, Butch’s life has changed most dramatically in the last 8 months or so. In March, he had acquired the Munster cars, he got married for the first time in September and he has recently moved into his grandmother’s 1875 Victorian Queen Ann home in Macon, Missouri. “I’ve never been a homeowner before. I’ve never been a husband before. This is all new to me.”

Leila told People magazine in September, “We met a few years ago briefly at an event through our mutual friend, legendary [automobile designer] George Barris,” she says. “We reconnected this year while Butch was doing an event in Florida on his tour with his Munster Koach and Dragula Tribute Cars. It’s one of those chance bonds in life that rarely happens between two people and it was meant to be.”

Property Horrors
(Jung Guns Entertainment)
All of this leads up to his new show that he and Jung Guns Entertainment are shopping around called Property Horrors. Honestly, before the interview I had assumed that the show was going to be home improvement home. I was wrong. It turns that dear old grandma’s house is (or was) haunted (if you believe in such things). Butch wasted no time contacting celebrity psychic and medium to the stars, Shavaun Avila for help. According to Jung Guns press information, “When he discovered [grandma’s] spirit still walked the halls, Butch connected with Shavaun for her help. It didn’t take long before a beautiful paranormal partnership was forged.”

So the concept of Property Horrors is that both Butch and Shavaun will go on “house calls” to investigate various haunted homes (with the help of their dog Tiger) and tell the spooks to leave. Until the show gets picked up, you can catch Butch at various fan events and car shows showing off his sweet rides.

You can learn more about Butch and his TV family at Munsters.com and Munstercars.com.