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Fred Gwynne

Fred Gwynne

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Also Known As: Frederick Hubbard Gwynne Died: July 2, 1993
Born: July 10, 1926 Cause of Death: pancreatic cancer
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: actor, children's book author, children's book illustrator, advertising copywriter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A gentle and dapper giant, this 6'5" distinctive character player of stage, film and TV was best known for his portrayal of comic bumblers on two 1960s sitcoms, "Car 54, Where Are You?" (NBC, 1961-63) and "The Munsters" (CBS, 1964-66). In the former, a broad slapstick police comedy, Gwynne portrayed the quietly hapless Officer Muldoon. "The Munsters", a freaky family comedy, exploited his resemblance to Boris Karloff by casting him as Herman Munster--a Frankenstein's Monster look-alike who was a devoted family man. Tall, greenish, and gruesome, Herman invariably frightened the neighbors but his sunny disposition made him quick to bellow with laughter. Gwynne reprised his signature character for a feature film "Munster, Go Home" (1966) and has haunted syndicated reruns ever since. He returned 15 years later for a TV-movie "reunion", "The Munsters' Revenge" (NBC, 1981).Gwynne was especially convincing as quirky or somewhat melancholy authority figures, his dour looks, deep voice, deliberate delivery and sometimes prissy manner were well utilized in a number of films including "On the Waterfront" as longshoreman Slim (1954); Bernardo Bertolucci's "Luna" (1979) in a cameo as Jill Clayburgh's ill-fated...

A gentle and dapper giant, this 6'5" distinctive character player of stage, film and TV was best known for his portrayal of comic bumblers on two 1960s sitcoms, "Car 54, Where Are You?" (NBC, 1961-63) and "The Munsters" (CBS, 1964-66). In the former, a broad slapstick police comedy, Gwynne portrayed the quietly hapless Officer Muldoon. "The Munsters", a freaky family comedy, exploited his resemblance to Boris Karloff by casting him as Herman Munster--a Frankenstein's Monster look-alike who was a devoted family man. Tall, greenish, and gruesome, Herman invariably frightened the neighbors but his sunny disposition made him quick to bellow with laughter. Gwynne reprised his signature character for a feature film "Munster, Go Home" (1966) and has haunted syndicated reruns ever since. He returned 15 years later for a TV-movie "reunion", "The Munsters' Revenge" (NBC, 1981).

Gwynne was especially convincing as quirky or somewhat melancholy authority figures, his dour looks, deep voice, deliberate delivery and sometimes prissy manner were well utilized in a number of films including "On the Waterfront" as longshoreman Slim (1954); Bernardo Bertolucci's "Luna" (1979) in a cameo as Jill Clayburgh's ill-fated husband; "The Cotton Club" (1984) as a sympathetic underworld figure; "The Boy Who Could Fly" (1986), as the alcoholic uncle of the title character; "Pet Sematary" (1989) as a country gentleman; a bit part in Woody Allen's "Shadows and Fog" (1992); and a delicious final supporting role as a no-nonsense Southern judge in "My Cousin Vinny" (1992).

Gwynne also had a significant career on the New York stage appearing various plays including "Irma La Douce", "Texas Trilogy", "Arsenic and Old Lace", "Twelfth Night" and "The Winter's Tale". Gwynne worked as an advertising copywriter in the late 50s while pursuing acting. In the 80s, he made a good deal of his income doing voice-overs for TV commercials. A children's book author and illustrator, Gwynne succumbed to pancreatic cancer at age 66.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 My Cousin Vinny (1992) Judge Chamberlain Haller
2.
 Shadows And Fog (1991) Hacker'S Follower
3.
 Murder in Black & White (1990) Brannigan
4.
 Disorganized Crime (1989) Max Green
5.
 Pet Sematary (1989) Jud Crandall
6.
 Fatal Attraction (1987) Arthur
7.
 Ironweed (1987) Oscar Reo
8.
 Murder By the Book (1987) Victor Grenville
9.
 Secret Of My Success, The (1987) Donald Davenport
10.
 Christmas Star, The (1986) Waters
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1952:
Broadway acting debut, featured player in "Mrs. McThing"
1954:
Film debut, as Slim in "On the Waterfront"
1955:
Began working in episodics with appearance on "The Phil Silvers Show" (CBS)
1955:
Worked as an advertising copy writer for J. Walter Thompson
1958:
Early TV appearance, a CBS presentation of "Harvey"
:
First TV starring role as Officer Fred Muldoon in "Car 54, Where Are You?"
:
Starred as Herman Munster in "The Munsters"
1966:
Feature debut as a lead, "Munster, Go Home"
1969:
Portrayed Jonathan Brewster (a role previously assayed by Raymond Massey and Boris Karloff) in an ABC special adaptation of "Arsenic and Old Lace"
1979:
Made TV movie debut, "Sanctuary of Fear" (NBC)
1981:
Reprised the role of Herman Munster for a TV-movie "reunion", "The Munsters' Revenge"
1983:
Last Broadway appearance, "Whodunit"
1990:
Last television role "Murder in Black and White"
1992:
Last film appearance, "My Cousin Vinny"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Pheonix School of Design: -
Harvard University: Cambridge , Massachusetts - 1951

Notes

Al Lewis, Gwynne's close friend and co-star in "Car 54 Where Are You" and "The Munsters" told him when the acting offers they were receiving after "The Munsters" were were for froth: "Fred. We just made a sneaker. They're never going to let us make a shoe." It took more than a decade before Gwynne could build a career as a respectable character actor.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Jean Reynard. Had four children together.
wife:
Deborah Gwynne. Second wife; survived him.

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