Pursued By A Monstrous Image Of His Own Creation

No student complaints were ever recorded about the 6'5" monstrosity that wandered the campus between 1947 and 1951. Frederick H. Gwynne `51 had yet to undergo the three-hour make-up process that would transform him into Frankenstein's close cousin for the 1960s television show "The Munsters."

Gwynne, who died of cancer in 1993, also played Officer Francis Muldoon in the show "Car 54, Where Are You?" and as the Southern judge in "My Cousin Vinny." But he is best known for his longtime role as the slow-witted and bumbling but affable Munster.

Years after the popular show went off the air, friends say, children would approach Gwynne in the street and say hello to "Mr. Munster."

But the real Fred Gwynne was nothing like lummox he played on T.V.

Those who knew him well describe his sharp wit and acting skill and say how unfortunate Gwynne was to have been permanently type-cast after his career on "The Munsters."

They describe Gwynne as a multi-talented, complex man who was justified when he told friends that he hated America's perception of him.

Renaissance Man

Gwynne was born in 1926 and grew up in the New York City neighborhood of Tuxedo Park. He attended the Groton School in Connecticut--a well-known preparatory academy.

According to life-long friend David S. Biddle `49, who attended both Groton and Harvard with "Freddy," acting was only one of Gwynne's talents.

Gwynne's first love, according to Biddle, was drawing and painting.

"Freddy was a wonderful cartoonist," Biddle says. "He inspired me to begin writing a comic strip for my local newspaper."

Biddle recalls one example of Gwynne's cartooning ability and artistic creativity that took place on a vacation the two took together.

"I was at Cape May with Freddy a few years ago, and we agreed to draw caricatures of each other," Biddle says. "I drew him as a man in his 60's, but he drew me as I looked when we were kids."

Gwynne's daughter, Madyn Gwynne, says her father was "foremost an artist, not an actor."

His love of drawing led Gwynne to publish a number of children's books in the 1980's--most notably, "The King who Rained" and "A Chocolate Moose for Dinner."