Sunday, February 5, 2006


Even though Al Lewis is dead, Grandpa Munster still "lives" on in Toobworld. As a character, he has enough appearances in a wide variety of programs/movies to insure that he will one day be inducted into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame (probably in the October berth when the time comes).

But I'm guessing your average viewer probably knows very little of this vaudevillian vampire, who has more of Brooklyn than the Balkans in his character.

The basics - he was a vampire whose real name was Count Vladimir Dracula. He was the father of Lily Munster, father-in-law to Herman Munster, and the grandfather of Eddie Munster. I am unclear as to the exact relationship he had with Marilyn Munster, but she looked upon him as "Grandpa" as well.

Being a vampire fell more into the ethnic category, while his job description could be accurately summed up as mad scientist and inventor. (Not sure if that provided taxable income.)

Grandpa had a pet bat named Igor and at least one other child, a son Lester who was also a vampire.

The following information about Grandpa Munster was culled from the entries for 'The Munsters' and 'The Munsters Today', found in a book of TV trivia by Vincent Terrace.

1] As of 1964, Grandpa was 378 years old.
2] He was married 167 times.
3] His first love was named Shirley Zlebnick.
4] One of his earliest wives was Katja; they met at the Joan of Arc roast.
5] Joan of Arc was also enamored of him. (She once told him, "You enflame me!")
6] He was a member of the Sigma Alpha Aorta fraternity at the University of Transylvania. That's where he first met Genghis Khan.
7] He and Genghis Khan established the very first blood bank.
8] He worked as a fang sharpener when first starting out, for which he was paid 2,000 sloskies an hour. (That equals about eight cents.)
9] He also worked as a guillotine janitor.
10] His hometown was in Transylvania.
11] He once owned the infamous Bates Motel, but sold it to a nice young man and his mother....

There are also at least two Zonk!s that can be attributed to him:

A] His favorite TV show is 'My Three Sons'.
B] His transistorized divining rod picks up 'My Little Margie'.

It doesn't take long to realize that some of the "facts" in Grandpa's biography just don't add up. Literally.

If he was 378 years old in 1964, then he would have been born in 1586. But Genghis Khan died in 1227, and Joan of Arc burned at the stake on May 30th, 1431.

It reminds me of another resident of Toobworld who made some wild claims about his background - Jack Styles, whose adventures were spelled out in the series 'Jack Of All Trades'.

But there was a good reason for that - those stories were based on Jack Styles' autobiography and he was a teller of tales on a par with Baron Munchausen.

In other words, he was a lying sack of cow-plop.

As for Grandpa, we can find a splainin for the discrepancies in his background check in his occupation. As an inventor, he probably cobbled together his own time machine.

None of the following assertions can be verified. I'm just throwing them out there to hopefully make his existence in the TV Universe more believable.

First off, we have to address an o'bservation I made earlier - that he has a decided Brooklyn accent and Bowery Boys attitude, rather than the stock "Blah blah!" inflection you'd expect in the stereotypical vampire from Transylvania.

I think it's because he didn't grow up in Transylvania at all. I think Grandpa actually did come from Brooklyn!

The way I see it, he was born of Transylvanian immigrants descended from the original Vlad Dracul's family tree, probably in the first decade after the turn of the 20th Century. They christened him Vladimir Dracula in honor of his famous forefather, and he probably picked up the nickname of "Count" in the school-yard or on the street corners. And that's how he came by his natural "dese dem and doze" demeanor.

But to reconcile that theory with the other claims he made about his life, the invention of his own time machine seems to work the best. And it's not too far-fetched a possibility; not for a man who came up with a potion that could change one's gender and created a robot brother for Eddie named Boris. (And don't forget that transistorized divining rod!)

I figure he came up with the basic design of the time machine as a young man barely out of his teens, perhaps even basing his device on the papers left behind by Professor Gilbert in 1890. ('The Twilight Zone' - "Once Upon A Time")

As the Wizard of Oz once said, "Times being what they were," young Vlad probably decided to escape the dreariness of the Depression via his time machine. And this would be how his assertions that he knew Genghis Khan and Joan of Arc can be made factual. In a way, Vladimir Dracula would have been a lot like the Gallifreyan Time Lord known as the Doctor.

During the next several decades of his biological timeline, the Count decided to expand his knowledge of his ancestral lands. So he enrolled in the University of Transylvania, probably majoring in Mad Science and minoring in History.

He also met and married most of those 167 women he claimed to be his wives. He wasn't the ideal husband - he'd live with them for a few years, and then move on to some other era. Scattered throughout History, it's likely that his DNA has been diffused all over the world. If so, it's entirely possible that quite a few characters we know in the TV Universe can probably trace their lineage back to him. Among these might be other characters played by Al Lewis, since it's a Toobworld claim that genetic echoes are quite strong. Identical likenesses can crop up even thousands of years after the original was alive.

When he was in his fifties, Vladimir Dracula found himself in the 1630s, and that's when his time machine finally failed him. Somehow it must have broken down. It could even be that it was deliberately scuttled - not necessarily by Vladimir, but perhaps by the Gallifreyan Time Lords. Maybe they sabotaged it because they saw his time-flitting to be a threat to the sanctity of the established chronology of Earth.

Trapped as he was now in the past, Vladimir Dracula knew there was no way he could make it back to the 20th Century; very likely he wouldn't even survive to the middle of the 17th Century. And that's when he came up with a mad gamble - he would seek out his famous forebear, the legendary Vlad the Impaler who was now known as Count Dracula. Hopefully he would be able to persuade the vampire to sire him into the Kindred, so that he would be able to make it back to the 20th Century as one of the Undead.

Whether it was Dracula himself who performed the deed, or some other vampire, it is obvious by his appearance that this American namesake was not made into a bloodsucker himself until he was in his mid-fifties. It could even be that one of his two children - Lily and Lester Dracula - were already vampires themselves, and it was one of them who helped their father cross over to the Other Side.

After that, his life proceeded as expected from the TV show. He helped reconnect the various parts of one of Dr. Frankenstein's prototypes (found in the medical building of the university in Heidelberg) which became known as Herman Munster. And his relationship with the Creature led to his daughter's introduction and infatuation with the younger Herman. (There is a 154 year age difference between them.)

Vladimir waited until he knew his younger self had vanished into the Time-stream before he brought the family over to America to begin their new life. Establishing their residence in the town of Mockingbird Heights, their story was finally available for viewing by the Trueniverse audience about a quarter century later.

I have no problem with the claim that he once owned the Bates Motel, as it became part of the TV Universe with a TV movie about young Norman Bates.

Like I said, this is just a theory, but it helps smooth out the kinks in Grandpa Munster's backstory and makes it more believable.

Yeah, I know..... We're talking about 'The Munsters'. Believability doesn't factor high in their little corner of Toobworld. But whaddya gonna do?


"Show some respect for tonight's guest of honor.
Why don't you go upstairs and change your socks?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Most of your theory would probably make Grandpa's backstory less believable actually - the original series asserted him to be a genuine vampire, implying on several ocassions that everybody there knew him as Count Dracula, impossible if he was only sired as you suggest. He was in fact claimed to be at least 700 years old,and Lily was a 400 year old vampire. As for accent and manner, Lily and Grandpa have both mentioned dying and reviving on many ocassions, so it is more than likely that the Americanized Dracula, whose first name is Sam in the original series, is probably just his current manifestation.