Butch "Eddie Munster" Patrick Interview
The Munsters is one of my all-time favorite TV shows. As a kid I watched it religiously in syndication and I still love it. Butch Patrick played Eddie Munster, the little werewolf kid with a doll named Woof Woof. The show was in black-and-white and had the look of the old Universal Pictures horror movies of the 30’s and 40’s down but mixed it with a heart-warming family comedy a la Leave It to Beaver. Plus it had cool George Barris custom cars like the Munster Koach and the Drag-u-la!
Lee Sobel: How did you get the nickname Butch? I always think of that tough kid in The Little Rascals.
Butch Patrick: My grandma gave it to me the day I was born. I was a big baby and it was kind of a common nickname in the early 50’s.
Lee Sobel: When you were cast on The Munsters I heard they flew you in from Chicago? What was your family like at home?
Butch Patrick: I was living in a town called Geneseo, outside of Chicago. I was never pushed into show business. My mom still lives in the same house we bought in 1962. We’ve always been a very close knit family.
Lee Sobel: You and Bill Mumy are about the same age and I know you got to work with him on an episode of The Munsters. Did you run into him a lot at auditions?
Butch Patrick: We are friends but I didn’t run into him too often at auditions because we were different types. When the breakdowns would go out for casting, he had red hair and I didn’t so our colorations were different. We would see each other occasionally at studios but we’d be working on different projects.
Lee Sobel: I saw photos of your makeup for Eddie Munster and originally you didn’t have a widow’s peak and you also had longer pointed ears.
Butch Patrick: Everybody on the show had makeup adjustments. For the first two or three episodes they were figuring out the makeup. We were using greasepaint at first and it was cracking and they had a lot of issues with it not looking good. After the first day of shooting they saw the dailies and temporarily shit down production. They looked at me and said, “He doesn’t look like he could be the offspring of Herman and Lily - he’s too normal except for the pointed ears,” so they created the widow’s peak and some bushy eyebrows for me to have more of an acceptable Eddie Munster look.
Lee Sobel: Was the makeup arduous?
Butch Patrick: It wasn’t too bad. It was an hour a day, only three days a week. We filmed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Fred Gwynn’s took a couple of hours in the morning since he had a bit more with the head piece and the padded suit. So with three days shooting the shows and four days off to recover from the makeup situation, it was doable.
Lee Sobel: Did you enjoy working on The Munsters?
Butch Patrick: It was easy-peavey. I was pretty much the only kid on the lot. I was allowed free rein to go explore when I had free time. I would go to the McHale’s Navy set with Ernie Borgnine and I had friends on Wagon Train and The Virginian because my uncle John would supply horses and Western props. I enjoyed it very much.
Lee Sobel: Do you remember anything funny happening during production of the show?
Butch Patrick: We were filming with the Munster Koach and we drove away from the house and the first assistant director told Fred, “As you as you drive away, come right back so we can shoot it again, in case we lose our sun.” Fred said, “Sure, Sure,” but then proceeded to drive out of the Universal gates onto Lankershim Boulevard for a little joy ride for about five or ten minutes. It was pretty cool to see the expressions on people’s faces at seeing The Munsters in full makeup in the Munster Koach on a joy ride outside the studio gates.
Lee Sobel: Any memories of the show’s guest stars?
Butch Patrick: Billy Mumy was on the show which was fun. I also enjoyed when Peter Robbins was on the fourth or fifth episode when we introduced the Munster Koach - I was really impressed by him because he was the voice of Charlie Brown in the the cartoons.
Lee Sobel: Why did Fred Gwynne seem to have a problem with The Munsters after the show ended?
Butch Patrick: You would have to speak to Fred, which obviously you can’t, but Fred was a serious actor, a Harvard grad, very intelligent, lots of talent in music, art, sculpting. He was very much a Renaissance man. To be sort of be pigeonholed from a cartoonish type character that he played for two years, that he did so well and it was at the top of his resume, when he had so much more to offer, was frustrating for him.
Lee Sobel: I read that you also went through a period where you wanted to distance yourself from Eddie Munster but you seem to have come to terms with it. Did Fred ever get to the point where he was more accepting of it?
Butch Patrick: I did the show when I was a kid and going into my teenage years where I didn’t want to be teased and stuff, and wanted to be accepted by my peers as a kid. That’s a little different than a professional actor, a thespian. Imagine this, you go to the movies to see My Cousin Vinny, which Fred was in and you hear whispers all over the theater: “Herman Munster.” “Herman Munster.”, But I do know that Fred did accept it in his later years. He gave a quote that was something like, “Herman Munster is like an old friend.” As for me, I feel that everybody should be happy to be remembered for something in this business, considering how many people aren’t.
Lee Sobel: I read that The Beatles were on the set of The Munsters. Did you meet them?
Butch Patrick: No, I was off that day.
Lee Sobel: Do you remember the Universal tour coming through past the Munsters house when you were shooting? Did you get stared at?
Butch Patrick: Well, when you walked around in the Eddie Munster makeup, you got used to being stared at. That was a given. But we would be told when the tram was coming through and we would stop production. It was only a few times a day so it wasn’t so bad. We all enjoyed it. Fred and Al were the consummate professionals and liked interacting with the fans.
Lee Sobel: So Fred never griped about the costume and makeup?
Butch Patrick: Nope. I never saw any problems with him whatsoever. I enjoyed my time with him, especially when they wrote some good father-son scripts.
Lee Sobel: How did you like wearing the “Little Lord Fauntleroy” costume?
Butch Patrick: That was my least favorite thing about doing the show.
Lee Sobel: What is the dumbest question you’ve been ask in interviews or at conventions when you meet your fans?
Butch Patrick: When people meet you at conventions and they want to ask you a question but they get stage fright or look like a “deer in the headlights.” They just want to engage you and they can’t think of anything new to ask so they just ask the same old questions, which is fine. They later wish they had thought of something better to ask. The number one question at the table is, “Where’s Woof Woof?"