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.