f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

February 5, 2006

Al Lewis: from Meister to Munster & much more

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 3:54 am

Vampires live long and play many roles, and Al Lewis was no exception. 

His Grandpa Munster character was so original, and lovably-grumpy, that

he turned a two-season tv series into a true cult classic, and will forever

be known as “Grandpa.”  But, this “generous, cantankerous, engaging

spirit” did so many things well, and with style and wit, that we can only

admire his full life as we mourn his passing. (Washington Post/AP,


curtain call

for Grandpa Munster —

supine ovation





Let’s compare the curriculum vitae of Al Lewis, nee Alexander Meister,

with the aspirations of so many of the best and brightest law students —

you know, the track that goes from college to law school to BigLaw to very

comfy retirement near a famous golf course.  Before he ever played the 

roles of  Officer Schnauzer in “Car 54 Where Are You?” and Grandpa in

“The Munsters,” Al Lewis [see Starpulse bio]

– had been a circus performer, a school teacher, and a

vaudevillian, plus a hot dog vendor at Ebbets Field


– had earned a doctorate in child psychology from Columbia

University, authored two children’s books, and served as a

high school basketball scout

Later, he produced a kid-oriented home video, and hosted a series of

Saturday morning television shows on WTBS.  He has also owned and

haunted Grandpa’s Restaurant in Greenwich Village for many years.



                                                                                                                                 Munster’s Revenge (1981)


Long after The Munsters ended its original run, Grandpa Lewis reprised his

role in a feature movie Munster Go Home (1966), and a made-for tv sequel

Munster’s Revenge (1981).  He has also hosted a weekly radio talk show on

WBAI-FM in New York right up to his death, and was well-known for his

irreverent and raunchy appearances on various tv and radio shows. 


Al Lewis came back into focus for me, 7 years ago, when (per AP):

“Just two years short of his 90th birthday, a ponytailed Lewis ran

as the Green Party candidate against incumbent Gov. George

Pataki. Lewis campaigned against draconian drug laws and the

 death penalty, while going to court in a losing battle to have his

name appear on the ballot as “Grandpa Al Lewis.” 


“He didn’t defeat Pataki, but managed to collect more 52,000


All in all, a pretty amazing life. When asked what accomplishment he is

proudest of, he firmly replied, “My three sons.”  On working with a young

Robert Zemeckis on one of Zemeckis’ first films, Used Cars (1980):

“That kid couldn’t direct traffic.”


One of a kind.  Al, I’m glad to have been on this planet while you were

here.  Thankgoodness you didn’t go to law school.  Sure wish I had

done a little circus and vaudeville.

GranpaMunster I wonder what Grandpa thinks of the CNN.

International/Entertainment headline that has been online

all this evening: “Grandpa ‘Munster’ dies at age 82” (Feb. 4,

2006).   A dozen years taken away — radio show host,

Green Party candidate for Governor, long-suffering patient.

I bet he wouldn’t have traded the good and interesting times

to avoid the pain.







grandpa drags his daybed

to the front porch. . .

mockingbird’s songs





coffee shop . . .

   the only empty seat

   still warm





the pinwheel stops

     grandpa catches

     his breath






funeral procession . . .

snowflakes blowing

into the headlights




cedar walking cane

hangs from the coat rack

dust on the handles curves

Randy Brooks  from School’s Out (Press Here, 1999) 




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