The Munsters are, by design, a comedic reinvention of the classic monsters – Herman is Frankenstein’s monster, Lily is a vampire, Grandpa is Count Dracula, and Eddie is a werewolf – but other interpretations of iconic creatures occasionally made appearances.
Before TV’s first family of fright returns in Rob Zombie’s The Munsters, let’s look back at six classic monsters that have appeared in The Munsters Universe up to this point.
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Despite only appearing on screen for about a minute and a half, Uncle Gilbert is perhaps the most memorable member of the Munsters’ extended family. The reason is simple: he’s the Gill-man from the Creature from the Black Lagoon franchise.
In “Love Comes to Mockingbird Heights” (season 1, episode 31), Uncle Gilbert sends the family $180,000 worth of gold doubloons from the old country for safekeeping until he arrives to visit. This inciting incident sets the plot in motion, but Uncle Gilbert doesn’t show up until the episode’s final moments.
Not much is known about Uncle Gilbert, but Herman mentions that he used to be a politician. Unlike the Gill-man depicted in the movies, Uncle Gilbert has the ability to speak – and, in fact, refers to himself as the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Uncle Gilbert is played by Richard Hale, an opera singer turned character actor who appeared in the likes of To Kill a Mockingbird, Julius Caesar, and Star Trek. The character will return in Rob Zombie’s The Munsters, although the actor in the creature suit has not yet been revealed.
Herman Munster is, canonically, Frankenstein’s monster, created in a lab in Germany in the 1800s – but he’s not the only one. Herman has a twin brother, Charlie, introduced in “Knock Wood, Here Comes Charlie” (season 1, episode 9), as well as a cousin, Johann, as seen in “A Visit from Johann” (season 2, episode 26).
Johann is Dr. Frankenstein’s original creation from 1815. (As such, it may be more accurate to call him Herman’s brother, but he’s officially referred to as his cousin.) He was discovered six months prior to the events of the episode living in the woods on the ancestral Frankenstein estate in Germany.
Hijinks predictably ensue when Lily mistakes the uncivilized Johann for her husband before a romantic weekend away. Fred Gwynne pulls double duty as both Herman and Johann. John Abbott, whose legacy includes voicing the wolf in The Jungle Book, appears as Dr. Victor Frankenstein IV.
Johann communicates via grunts, is afraid of fire, and dons a fur tunic reminiscent of the monster’s vest in Son of Frankenstein. Incidentally, Jeff Daniel Phillips’s take on Herman appears to wear similar wardrobe in Rob Zombie’s The Munsters.
The Wolf Man
The oft-mocked logistics of a Frankenstein monster and a vampire spawning a werewolf son were inadvertently explained by “Herman’s Rival” (season 1, episode 15). The introduction of Lily’s werewolf younger brother, Lester Dracula, implies that Lily has recessive werewolf genes.
In the episode, Lily thinks that Herman has lost his life savings, but he actually lent it to Lester, who Grandpa describes as “a born loser.” Similar to Uncle Gilbert, Lester doesn’t appear on screen until the final scene. Although not referred to as such, horror fans will recognize his similarities to The Wolf Man.
Lester is played by Irwin Charone, who frequently appeared on the likes of The Lucy Show, Here’s Lucy, and Bewitched. Tomas Boykin (3 from Hell) will take over the role in Rob Zombie’s film.
Phantom of the Opera
Although The Munsters ended after only two seasons, the family would live in various movies, specials, and reboots. The 1981 made-for-TV movie The Munsters’ Revenge introduced viewers to Lily’s cousin, Phantom.
Phantom visits the Munsters for Halloween, eventually utilizing his glass-shattering singing voice to help save the family. His makeup is modeled after Lon Chaney’s iconic take on the character from the 1925 version of The Phantom of the Opera.
Cousin Phantom is portrayed by Bob Hastings, known for McHale’s Navy and later voicing Commissioner Gordon on Batman: The Animated Series.
Bride of Frankenstein / Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Aunt and Uncle Hyde first appear in The Munsters’ Revenge, but they play a bigger part in the 1995 made-for-TV movie Here Come the Munsters, in which it’s revealed that Norman and Elsa Hyde are Marilyn’s parents before the former goes missing and the latter is in a coma.
Elsa is named after Elsa Lanchester and strongly resembles her iconic portrayal of the Bride of Frankenstein. The plot dictates that she’s Herman’s sister, despite the fact that the original series firmly established Marilyn as Lily’s niece. Norman’s attempt to make Marilyn look more like the rest of the family goes awry, turning him into the sinister Brent Jekyll.
Elsa Hyde is played by comedian Judy Gold, who went on to win two Daytime Emmy Awards for her work as a writer and producer on The Rosie O’Donnell Show. Norman Hyde is played by Max Grodénchik, who played the recurring role of Rom on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Brent Jekyll is played by The Bold and the Beautiful alumnus Jeff Trachta.