When The Beatles invaded America in 1964, so too did a family of monsters.
Television branded them as “The Munsters.” Americans welcomed the residents of 1313 Mockingbird Lane into their homes beginning in the fall of 1964. The Munster family included a Frankenstein monster, an aging vampire, his daughter, and a little boy with fangs.
Butch Patrick played Eddie Munster, the little son of Herman and Lily Munster on “The Munsters.” Fans can meet and buy autographs from Patrick on Sunday, June 30 — that’s today — during the 34th annual RobCon at the MeadowView Convention Center in Kingsport, Tennessee.
“I do photos and sign autographs, chat with people at the table, reminisce,” said Patrick, by phone from his home in Macon, Missouri. “‘The Munsters’ were one of the most merchandised shows in television history.”
The mid-1960s provided a haven for campy television programs. ABC’s “The Addams Family” debuted on Sept. 18, 1964. Six days later, on Thursday, Sept. 24, 1964, the first episode of “The Munsters” ran on CBS.
“It was definitely work but fun,” Patrick, 65, said. “We had cool cars. My favorite episodes were the ones when we rode in the cars. I loved working with Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster) and Al Lewis (Grandpa).”
Success greeted “The Munsters” right away. According to Nielsen Ratings, “The Munsters” clocked in as the 18th highest rated program during the 1964-65 season — ahead of such television stalwarts as “Gunsmoke” and “Gilligan’s Island.” A Golden Globe nomination for Best Television Series came in 1965.
Filmed on a back lot at Universal Studios in Hollywood, the neighborhood set for “The Munsters” provided a backdrop for numerous programs during the era.
“‘Leave it to Beaver’ was two doors down. ‘Marcus Welby, M.D.’ was across the street,” Patrick said. “A lot of people connect the 1950s as the golden era of television. They were like radio shows. In the 1960s, the sitcom and the western came into play. It was a time when the best actors turned to television.”
Now, Patrick remains best known for his role on “The Munsters.” However, his credits include dozens of appearances on some of television’s marquee programs of the 1960s.
“People do focus in on ‘The Munsters,’” Patrick said. “We have stacks of things at the table with ‘Munsters’ facts. We also have a list of credits.”
For example, Patrick appeared on such television classics as “My Three Sons” opposite Fred MacMurray and “Rawhide” with Clint Eastwood. Most if not all fans who meet Patrick seem rightly surprised upon learning of his acting past.
“They go, ‘Wow!’” Patrick said. “I did two episodes of ‘Gunsmoke,’ two of ‘Bonanza,’ one ‘Daniel Boone,’ one ‘Rawhide,’ a couple of ‘Adam 12.’”
Patrick turned up on “Mister Ed,” “The Monkees,” “My Favorite Martian,” “General Hospital,” “The Untouchables,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” and more. Earlier this year, an animated version of Patrick as Eddie Munster holding his doll, Woof Woof, cameos in a rock music video, “I Am John 5,” by John 5.
“That was very cool,” Patrick said. “I’m a big Rob Zombie fan and he was a big ‘Munsters’ fan, as was John 5. Life’s been good to me. ‘The Munsters’ has staying power.”
Consider 1964, when “The Munsters” electrified to life. The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were young and brand new. Mickey Mantle still wore the pinstripes of the New York Yankees. Lyndon Johnson sat in the White House. Man had yet to walk on the moon.
The Stones still tour, and “The Munsters” remain on television in syndication.
“I’ve been very blessed,” Patrick said. “It’s been a wonderful life.”
Meet a Munster. Snag a signature or selfie with the man who played Eddie Munster. Buy a little bit of the past en route to a time that was and a time that still comes around.
“Mostly, it’s a walk down memory lane for people,” Patrick said. “I enjoy it. They’re like an extended family.”