While few details of Al Lewis's beginnings are agreed upon, owing to his penchant for telling tall tales, what is verifiable is that he was a beloved character actor who is remembered mainly for his role as the endearing elderly vampire, Grandpa, on the TV sitcom "The Munsters" (1964-66). So whether or not his birth name was Albert or Alexander Meister, the actor was born in Brooklyn, the son of Eastern European immigrant garment workers, and started on the vaudeville stage and on Broadway in the late '50s. He was cast as Machine Gun Manny in the '60 feature gangster film "Pretty Boy Floyd" just as he was becoming better known as a comic actor on television's "The Phil Silvers Show" and the wildly popular cop sitcom "Car 54, Where Are You?," starring Fred Gwynne, with whom he later appeared in "The Munsters." Other notable roles for Lewis include the acclaimed drama "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" ('69) and the film remake of "Car 54, Where Are You?" ('94). Lewis was also highly political and often appeared on Howard Stern's controversial radio programs advocating free speech. A year after appearing in the low-buget film "Night Terror," Lewis fell into a period of ill health and died at the age of 82.
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Appeared in "The Night Circus" on Broadway
Appeared in two episodes of "The Phil Silvers Show" (CBS)
Joined the ABC series "Naked City" for four episodes
Appeared in "One More River" on Broadway
Made his feature debut in "Pretty Boy Floyd" as Machine Gun Manny
Portrayed Officer Leo Schnauser on "Car 54, Where Are You?"
Cast in the musical comedy "Do Re Mi" as Moe Shtarker on Broadway
Cast as Grandpa in the hit series, "The Munsters"
Played the character Turkey in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"
Opened Grampa's Bella Gente restaurant
Was a Green Party candidate for Governor of New York
Last role in a movie was Father Hanlon in "Night Terror"