Saturday, February 04, 2006

47. (Un)dead: Al Lewis, 1910-2006

I'm trying hard not to be flippant--but maybe I shouldn't. After all, it was Al "Grandpa" Lewis himself who invented the cigar-chomping Jewish vampire, a Count who could call a hulking green--well, we had to trust the script on that; the Munsters lived in a black and white world--monster a schnook and make it sound like the most natural thing in the world. I remember Al Lewis from Car 54, Where Are You (also with Fred Gwynne, rest his soul), one of the last of the Borscht Belt sitcoms--and one of the best theme songs ("There's a scout troop short a child, Krushchev's due at Idlewiiild...")--and as the judge in Used Cars (ruling on "a mile of cars"), and as Turkey in They Shoot Horses, Don't They?; but it's Grandpa Munster that he shall forever remain. He helped me defuse my terrors, reducing all those deepest horrors to canned-laughter comfort, in a monster's universe that included dragsters, beatniks and, of course, his schnook of a son-in-law, Herman, who, daydreaming about going to Hollywood, once enthused, "We'll see all the big stars: Charlton Heston, John Wayne, and Nick Adams." Another Rebel fan. I once had a nightmare that I was staying overnight at 1313 Mockingbird Lane--and I also once dreamed the same about the Addams family's manse ("If you need anything, just scream."); strange conflations, and I'll always be thankful for them. Unrest in Peace, Grandpa.

And, in a weird alignment of dark stars, today is George Romero's birthday. Undead again.

1 comment:

Blogger said...

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