Fred Gwynne isn't a Munster anymore!
by Riva Dryan, Examiner 5/5/87
LANKY ACTOR Fred Gwynne, who starred in the ghoulish TV comedy The Munsters, has finally shaken off his image as the hideous but hilarious Herman Munster.
He's returning to television with a series of his own--Jake's Thing, an hour drama about an old-time crime reporter who solves one crime after another.
"I loved being Herman, but let me tell you, shaking him off wasn't easy," Gwynne told the EXAMINER. "When the show ended in 1966, I thought I'd soon get other work. But I didn't. Instead, I discovered I was some sort of pariah.
"Hollywood casting people treated me as if I had leprosy. I guess Herman was such a strong character, they couldn't see me as anyone else.
"I hung around hopefully for about a year, but when I realized nothing was going to change, I took off for New York, and I've been living there happily ever since."
Once in the town he loves the best, Gwynne went back to the theater, but even that eventually lost its glow.
"I told my agent I ought to be in pictures," he smiled. "And luckily, he agreed."
So the man who used to ham it up as the world's most amiable monster was put to work in the movies.
"I've just completed a part in Iron Weed, the new film with Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep," he said. "But it was my part in The Cotton Club, as a Mafia type, that really helped people see me in a different way.
"At last, I was no longer the clown."
This time around, Gwynne will play the crust but kindly crime buff Jake Jacoby--a man who actually exists.
"Jake's about 70 now," said Fred. "He's a crime reporter for a small wire service, and he's been working out of the press room at a downtown Los Angeles police station for the past 40 years.
"What makes him different is that he's actually helped solve some of the most complicated crimes in the country," Gwynne said.
"He's a wonderful character, both in real life and on the show. He's a character that no one, and I mean no one, could possibly confuse with my old friend Herman Munster."