The 64-year-old former star of The Munsters talks cars, haunted houses and his prostate cancer diagnosis.
Butch Patrick was only 11 years old when he was suddenly thrust into the spotlight as the lovable werewolf son in the monster sitcom, The Munsters. Although the series only ran for 70 episodes over two seasons (1964-1966), it attracted a dedicated fan base that continues to embrace it in syndication—and made huge stars out of Patrick and his cast-mates.
"At the time it was my third TV series, but the content on the show was so unusual and unlike anything I'd done before," recalls Patrick, who played the werewolf son, Eddie. "Between the special effects and the makeup, and the idea that these traditional monsters would be on a sitcom, made it fun and unique."
The running gag of the series was that this odd little family were actually typical working-class people: Herman Munster (played by Fred Gwynne) was the sole breadwinner, like most men in the 1960s. His wife Lily (Yvonne De Carlo) and Grandpa (Al Lewis) spent most of their days at home, concocting grand money-making schemes while watching over niece Marilyn (Pat Priest) and son Eddie.
The characters and costumes were all based on the classic monsters of Universal Studios, specifically the films from the 1930s and 1940s. For audiences in the 1960s The Munsters was a nostalgic throwback to the horror films they grew up watching—only with a comic twist.
For Patrick, he was living the dream, taking part in Munsters-themed parades and watching the show's merchandise fly off toy shelves.
"It was a pretty cool time," he says. "I was really into building toy models, and to see your own face on the packaging for toy models and on dolls was neat, I must admit. I especially liked the Munsters lunch boxes."
But with the advent of a certain comic book hero, The Munsters suffered a ratings drop during the second season from which it couldn't recover. By 1966, the colourized live action Batman starring Adam West captured the imagination of audiences, relegating the Munster clan to the background with the once-popular Universal monsters after which they were modeled.
For Patrick, he went on to appear in episodes of The Monkees, Gunsmoke and I Dream Of Jeannie.
However, after trying his hand in music in the 1980s with his band, Eddie and the Monsters, Patrick eventually checked into rehab in 2010. "I had been partying for 41 years," he says. "At that point I wasn't really living, I was just surviving. So I started to make adjustments in my life and create a more sober lifestyle. The irony is that, four months into sobriety, I found out I had [prostate] cancer." But now, coming up on six years of sobriety and a clean bill of health, Patrick is mounting a return to his TV roots.
Later this year, he will return to his supernatural beginnings with the debut of his new series, Property Horrors, in which he visits the homes of residents being targeted by spirits, malevolent or otherwise. "I'm very confident that it's going to do very well," he says. "And it allows me to travel around and visit other people in situations similar to mine. I recently bought the house my grandmother owned in Missouri...I bought it not knowing what I was getting into—it's actually a very active haunted house."
From Eddie Munster to ghostbuster, it seems Patrick's embracing his ghoulish roots.
We caught up with Butch Patrick to talk cars, haunted houses and his prostate cancer diagnosis. Click to the next page for the full Q&A.
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