Al Lewis was born April 30, 1923 in New York as Albert Meister. Many aspects of his life once thought to be fact have often not held up as much in recent times, ranging from his supposed work as a circus clown in the 1920s and his Ph.D. in child psychology from Columbia University at age 31. In 1961, he did "Car 54, Where Are You?" with Fred Gwynne and Joe E. Ross, playing Officer Leo Schnauser. After that was canceled, Al and Fred were flown to California to do a pilot for a show called "The Munsters." After two years, Al Lewis would be forever branded as Grandpa all over the world.
Although he is often referred to as Grandpa Munster, that is technically incorrect, since only Lily married into the family. But does it matter? Al Lewis thrived at being America's number one Grandpa, and continued to do occasional appearances with other "Munsters" until the last few years of his life. In the 1980s, he operated a restaurant called "Grampa's Bella Gente" in Greenwich Village and also appeared often on TBS hosting airings of campy horror flicks and cartoons. In 1998 he ran for governor in New York as the Green Party candidate and also had his own talk show in New York City in recent years. He divorced his wife Marge Lewis in the 1970s, with whom he had three sons and in the '80s he married to Karen Lewis. Shortly before Fred Gwynne's death, they were able to be reunited and in interviews afterwards, he always lovingly remembered Fred. After an angioplasty that resulted in the amputation of his right leg below the knee and the toes of his left foot in 2003, Al was in a coma, but eventually recovered. On February 3, 2006, he died in New York of natural causes at age 82.
Cox, Stephen. The Munsters Television's First Family of Fright. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1989.
Al Lewis: Forever Grandpa. Dir. Lawrence Williams. Foxstar Productions, 2000.