Fred Gwynne

Advertising copywriter, Actor, Children's book author
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" ... Read more »
Born: 07/09/1926 in New York City, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (36)

Inventors: Out of Their Minds 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Narrator

Lincoln 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Voice

My Cousin Vinny 1992 (Movie)

Judge Chamberlain Haller (Actor)

Shadows and Fog 1992 (Movie)

Hacker's Follower (Actor)

Disorganized Crime 1989 (Movie)

Max Green (Actor)

Pet Sematary 1989 (Movie)

Jud Crandall (Actor)

Fatal Attraction 1987 (Movie)

Arthur (Actor)

Ironweed 1987 (Movie)

Oscar Reo (Actor)

Jake's M.O. 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

The Christmas Star 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

The Secret of My Success 1987 (Movie)

Donald Davenport (Actor)

Off Beat 1986 (Movie)

Commissioner (Actor)

The Boy Who Could Fly 1986 (Movie)

Uncle Hugo (Actor)

Water 1986 (Movie)

Spender (Actor)

The Cotton Club 1984 (Movie)

Frenchy Demange (Actor)

So Fine 1981 (Movie)

Chairman Lincoln (Actor)

Simon 1980 (Movie)

Korey (Actor)

Luna 1979 (Movie)

Douglass Winter (Actor)

Sanctuary of Fear 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

Captains Courageous 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Actor

Paradise Lost 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

Harvey 1971 - 1972 (TV Show)

Actor

Anderson and Company 1968 - 1969 (TV Show)

Actor

Arsenic and Old Lace 1968 - 1969 (TV Show)

Actor

The Munsters 1964 - 1966 (TV Show)

Actor

Marineland Carnival 1964 - 1965 (TV Show)

Actor

Munster, Go Home 1965 (Movie)

Herman Munster (Actor)

Car 54, Where Are You? 1961 - 1963 (TV Show)

Actor

Kane & Abel (TV Show)

Actor

Murder By the Book (TV Show)

Actor

Murder in Black & White (TV Show)

Actor

The Littlest Angel (TV Show)

Actor

The Munsters' Revenge (TV Show)

Actor

The Mysterious Stranger (TV Show)

Actor

Vanishing Act (TV Show)

Actor

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 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.

Relationships

Deborah Gwynne

Wife
Married 1988 until his death 1993

Jean Reynard

Wife

EDUCATION

Pheonix School of Design

New York

Harvard University

Cambridge , Massachusetts 1951

Milestones

1992

Last film appearance, "My Cousin Vinny"

1990

Last television role "Murder in Black and White"

1983

Last Broadway appearance, "Whodunit"

1981

Reprised the role of Herman Munster for a TV-movie "reunion", "The Munsters' Revenge"

1979

Made TV movie debut, "Sanctuary of Fear" (NBC)

1968

Portrayed Jonathan Brewster (a role previously assayed by Raymond Massey and Boris Karloff) in an ABC special adaptation of "Arsenic and Old Lace"

1966

Feature debut as a lead, "Munster, Go Home"

1958

Early TV appearance, a CBS presentation of "Harvey"

1955

Began working in episodics with appearance on "The Phil Silvers Show" (CBS)

1955

Worked as an advertising copy writer for J. Walter Thompson

1954

Film debut, as Slim in "On the Waterfront"

1952

Broadway acting debut, featured player in "Mrs. McThing"

First TV starring role as Officer Fred Muldoon in "Car 54, Where Are You?"

Starred as Herman Munster in "The Munsters"

Bonus Trivia

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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.

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