Frederick Hubbard Gwynne
July 10, 1926
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||July 2, 1993 (aged 66)|
Taneytown, Maryland, U.S.
|Resting place||Sandy Mount United Methodist Church Cemetery, Finksburg, Maryland|
|Alma mater||Harvard University, 1951|
|Height||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Navy|
Frederick Hubbard Gwynne (July 10, 1926 – July 2, 1993) was an American actor, artist and author. He was best known for his roles in the 1960s television sitcoms Car 54, Where Are You? as Francis Muldoon and as Herman Munster in The Munsters, as well as his later film roles in The Cotton Club, Pet Sematary and My Cousin Vinny.
Gwynne was born on July 10, 1926, in New York City, the son of Frederick Walker Gwynne, a partner in the securities firm Gwynne Brothers, and his wife Dorothy Ficken Gwynne, who, before her marriage, was a successful artist known for her "Sunny Jim" comic character. His paternal grandfather Walker Gwynne was an Anglican priest, born in Camus, County Tyrone, Ireland around 1846, who married American Helen Lea Bowers. His maternal grandfather Henry Edwards Ficken was an emigrant from London, who married American Josephine or Josephina Preston Hubbard.
He had at least two siblings, Dorothy Gwynne and Bowers Gwynne, who both died young. Although Gwynne grew up in Tuxedo Park, New York, he spent most of his childhood in South Carolina, Florida, and Colorado because his father traveled extensively. He attended the Groton School.
During World War II, Gwynne served in the United States Navy as a radioman on a submarine chaser. In the 1940s, Gwynne was a summertime swimming instructor at the Duxbury Yacht Club pool in Duxbury, Massachusetts. He later studied art under the G.I. Bill before attending Harvard, where he was affiliated with Adams House, graduating in 1951. He was a member of the Fly Club, sang with the a cappella group the Harvard Krokodiloes, was a cartoonist for the Harvard Lampoon (eventually becoming its president), and acted for the Hasty Pudding Theatricals.
Gwynne joined the Brattle Theatre Repertory Company after his 1951 graduation, then moved to New York City. To support himself, Gwynne worked as a copywriter for J. Walter Thompson, resigning in 1952 upon being cast in his first Broadway role, a gangster in a comedy called Mrs. McThing starring Helen Hayes.
In 1954, he made his first cinematic appearance playing – in an uncredited role – the laconic character Slim in the Oscar-winning film On the Waterfront. Shortly afterwards, Phil Silvers sought him for his television show because he had been impressed by Gwynne's comedic work in Mrs. McThing. As a result, Gwynne made a memorable appearance on The Phil Silvers Show in the episode "The Eating Contest" as the character Corporal Ed Honnergar, whose depressive eating binges are exploited in an eating contest.
Gwynne's second appearance on The Phil Silvers Show (in the episode "It's for the Birds") and appearances on many other shows led writer-producer Nat Hiken to cast him in the sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? as Patrolman Francis Muldoon.
Gwynne was 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) tall, an attribute that contributed to his being cast as Herman Munster, a goofy parody of Frankenstein's monster, in the sitcom The Munsters. For his role, he had to wear 40 or 50 lbs of padding, makeup, and 4-inch asphalt-spreader boots. His face was painted a bright violet because it captured the most light on the black-and-white film. Gwynne was known for his sense of humor and retained fond recollections of Herman, saying in later life, "I might as well tell you the truth. I love old Herman Munster. Much as I try not to, I can't stop liking that fellow."
After his iconic role in The Munsters, Gwynne found himself typecast, unable to gain new film roles for over two years. In 1969, he was cast as Jonathan Brewster in a television production of Arsenic and Old Lace. (The Brewster character originally was played by Boris Karloff in the Broadway production of the play; Karloff famously played the movies' Frankenstein character on which Gwynne's Herman Munster character was based.) Gwynne then found success as a stage actor in regional state productions across the United States while maintaining a low Hollywood profile.
A talented vocalist, Gwynne sang in a Hallmark Hall of Fame television production The Littlest Angel (1969), and went on to perform in a variety of roles on stage and screen. In 1974, drawing upon his own Southern roots, he appeared in the role of Big Daddy Pollitt in the Broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Elizabeth Ashley, Keir Dullea and Kate Reid. In 1975, he played the Stage Manager in Our Town at the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut.
From 1975 to 1982, Gwynne appeared in 82 episodes in different roles on the popular radio drama series, the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, produced and directed by Himan Brown. Including episode 985, Willy and Dilly. He returned to Broadway in 1976 as Colonel J.C. Kinkaid in two parts of A Texas Trilogy. In 1984, Gwynne auditioned for the part of Henry on the sitcom Punky Brewster, then withdrew in frustration when a director identified him as Herman Munster rather than by his real name. The role of Henry went to George Gaynes. In 1987, Fred Gwynne starred in the short-lived TV series Jake's M.O., where he played an investigative reporter.
Fred Gwynne's performance as Jud Crandall in Pet Sematary was based on author Stephen King, who is only an inch shorter than the actor, and uses a similarly thick Maine dialect. The character's likeness and accent, as played by Gwynne, have been used in a number of episodes of the animated show South Park, beginning in 2001 and as recently as 2019. Gwynne also had roles in the movies Simon, On the Waterfront, So Fine, Disorganized Crime, The Cotton Club, Captains Courageous, The Secret of My Success, Water, Ironweed, Fatal Attraction, and The Boy Who Could Fly. Despite his misgiving about having been typecast, he agreed to reprise the role of Herman Munster for the 1981 TV reunion movie The Munsters' Revenge. Gwynne played Judge Chamberlain Haller in his last film, the 1992 comedy My Cousin Vinny.
As painter and illustrator
In addition to his acting career, Gwynne sang professionally, painted, and wrote and illustrated children's books, including Best in Show (later titled It's Easy to See Why), Daddy Has a Mole on His Nose, A Chocolate Moose for Dinner, The King Who Rained, Pondlarker, The Battle of the Frogs and Mice, and A Little Pigeon Toad. Many of these efforts were based on children's frequent misperceptions of things they hear from adults, such as the "chocolate moose for dinner", illustrated as a large brown antlered quadruped seated at the dinner table. The other books on this theme were "The King Who Rained", "A Little Pigeon Toad" (in which a child's mother thus describes her father), and "The Sixteen Hand Horse".
Perhaps one of the reasons the books did not achieve wider popularity initially was the fact that their format was geared to a very young audience, but the concept was more appealing to older children and adults, achieving critical success and eventually becoming regular bestsellers for their publisher. He also lent his voice talents to TV and radio commercials. Later in his career, he held a number of shows of his artwork, the first in 1989.
In 1952, Gwynne married socialite Jean "Foxy" Reynard, a granddaughter of New York City mayor William Jay Gaynor. Before divorcing in 1980, the couple had five children: Kieron (son, b. 1952); Gaynor (daughter, b. 1954); Evan (son, b. 1956); Madyn (daughter, b. 1965) and Dylan (son, b. 1962 / d. 1963, drowning).
In 1988, Gwynne married Deborah Flater.
Gwynne died of complications from pancreatic cancer, in the cigar room at his home in Taneytown, Maryland, on July 2, 1993, eight days short of his 67th birthday. He is buried in an unmarked grave at Sandy Mount United Methodist Church Cemetery in Finksburg, Maryland.
|1954||On the Waterfront||Mladen "Slim" Sekulovich||Uncredited|
|1966||Munster, Go Home!||Herman Munster|
|1969||The Littlest Angel||The Understanding Angel||TV movie|
|1977||Captains Courageous||Jack "Long Jack"||TV movie|
|1979||La Luna||Douglas Winter|
|1980||Simon||Major General Korey|
|1981||So Fine||Chairman Lincoln|
|1982||The Mysterious Stranger||Balthasar Hoffman||TV movie|
|1984||The Cotton Club||George "Big Frenchy" DeMange|
|1986||Off Beat||Police Commissioner|
|1986||The Boy Who Could Fly||Uncle Hugo|
|1986||The Christmas Star||Waters|
|1987||The Secret of My Success||Donald Davenport|
|1987||Jake's M.O.||Jake Tekulve|
|1989||Disorganized Crime||Max Green|
|1989||Pet Sematary||Jud Crandall|
|1991||Shadows and Fog||Hacker's Follower|
|1992||My Cousin Vinny||Judge Chamberlain Haller||Final film role|
|1952||The Repertory Theatre||Performer||Episode: "A Man's Game"|
|1953||You Are There||Davy Crockett||2 episodes|
|1955–1956||The Phil Silvers Show||Corporal Ed Honnegan||2 episodes|
|1956||Studio One in Hollywood||Little Dude||Episode: "The Landady's Daughter"|
|1957||The Kaiser Aluminum Hour||"Egghead"||Episode: "A Man's Game"|
|1957||Suspicion||Hughie||Episode: "Hand in Glove"|
|1957||Kraft Theatre||Performer||2 episodes|
|1958||The Steve Allen Show||Comedian||Episode: #3.23|
|1958||The Investigator||Performer||Episode: #1.07|
|1958||DuPont Show of the Month||E.J. Loffgrin||2 episodes|
|1961||The Play of the Week||Performer||Episode: "The Old Foolishness"|
|1961–1963||Car 54, Where Are You?||Officer Francis Muldoon||60 episodes|
|1962||The DuPont Show of the Week||William Magee||Episode: "Seven Keys to Baldgate"|
|1963||The United States Steel Hour||Willie Botsford||Episode: "Don't Shake the Family Tree"|
|1964||Brenner||Francis X. Fish||Episode: "Charlie Paradise: The Tragic Flute"|
|1964||My Son, the Witch Doctor||Performer||TV film|
|1964-1966||The Munsters||Herman Munster||Main role; 70 episodes produced|
|1965||The Red Skelton Show||Herman Munster||Episode: "Ta-Ra-Ra-Bum-Today"|
|1966||The Danny Kaye Show||Herman Munster||Episode: "Fred Gwynne"|
|1966||New York Television Theatre||The Professor||Episode: "The Lesson"|
|1967||NET Playhouse||Officer Avonzino||Episode: "Infancy and Childhood"|
|1968||Mad Mad Scientist||Warren Springer||TV film|
|1969||Arsenic and Old Lace||Jonathan Brewster||TV film|
|1969||Anderson and Company||Marshall Anderson||TV film|
|1969||The Littlest Angel||Guardian Angel||TV film|
|1971||Dames at Sea||Hennesey||TV film|
|1971||Great Performances||Pike||Episode: "Paradise Lost"|
|1971||The Police||Sergeant||TV film|
|1972||Harvey||Cab Driver||TV film|
|1972||Norman Corwin Presents||Performer||Episode: "Aunt Dorothy's Playroom"|
|1976||Bound for Freedom||Waldruss||TV film|
|1976||Captains and the Kings||Performer||Miniseries|
|1977||Captains Courageous||Jack "Long Jack"||TV film|
|1979||Sanctuary of Fear||Judge Potter||TV film|
|1980||A Day with Conrad Green||Conrad Green||TV film|
|1981||The Munsters' Revenge||Herman Munster||TV film|
|1982–1987||American Playhouse||Charles Dickens||2 episodes|
|1982||The Mysterious Stranger||Balthasar Hoffman||TV film|
|1985||Kane & Abel||Davis LeRoy||2 episodes|
|1986||Vanishing Act||Father Macklin||TV film|
|1987||Murder by the Book||Victor Greville||TV film|
|1990||Murder in Black and White||Brannigan||TV film|
|1990||Earthday Birthday||Fred The Moose||Voice, TV film|
|1992||Lincoln||Edwin Stanton||Voice, TV film|
- "Gwynne family genealogy". Rootsweb.com.
- "Census of Population and Housing, 1970 [United States]: Master Enumeration District (MED) Lists". June 28, 1984. doi:10.3886/icpsr08109.v2. Cite journal requires
- Elias, Carlos; Kirlys, Rokas; Topyan, Kudret (August 1, 2017). "Return Predictability in Santiago Stock Exchange: an Empirical Analysis using Portfolio Method". Journal of Advances in Economics and Finance. 2 (3). doi:10.22606/jaef.2017.23005. ISSN 2519-5980.
- "Cartoonist Fred Gwynne Is Elected Lampoon President - News - The Harvard Crimson". Thecrimson.com. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
- Wright, Andy (June 16, 2017). "The Man Behind Herman Munster Wrote Some Puntastic Children's Books". Atlas Obscura-Stories. Atlas Obscura. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
- Mittell, David A. (1995). The Duxbury Yacht Club Story. Attleboro, Massachusetts: Colonial Lithograph. p. 100.
- "Tribute to Fred Gwynne". Harvard Krokodiloes website.
- Lambert, Bruce (July 3, 1993) "Fred Gwynne, Popular Actor, Is Dead at 66". The New York Times, p. 8: Reference for Harvard Lampoon, Hasty Pudding Theatricals, Brattle Theatre, "Mrs. McThing".
- Sheaffer, Louis. "Shakespeare Imaginatively Staged at City Center". Brooklyn Eagle, February 5, 1953.
- "8 surprising facts about the great Fred Gwynne - 7. He almost starred on 'Punky Brewster.'". MeTV. July 10, 2018. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
- "The Complete Guide to South Park Movie Parodies and References". Denofgeek.com. April 16, 2019. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
- Mondello, Bob (March 7, 2017). "How Do Americans Feel About The Courts? Let Hollywood Be The Judge". NPR. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
- Fred(erick) (Hubbard) Gwynne. (2003). In Gale Literature: Contemporary Authors. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.
- "Enchanted Lady: The colorful columnist is moving into Ridgefield". January 4, 2010. Ridgefield Holiday magazine '09-'10 archives.
- Lambert, Bruce (July 3, 1993). "Fred Gwynne, Popular Actor, Is Dead at 66". The New York Times.
- "Fred Gwynne" Archived June 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Biography.com.
- "Fred Gwynne". Biography. Retrieved June 4, 2018.
- Zaman, Natalie (October 8, 2016). Magical Destinations of the Northeast: Sacred Sites, Occult Oddities & Magical Monuments. Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN 9780738749884. Retrieved May 3, 2021 – via Google Books.
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