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|The Munsters character|
Beverley Owen as Marilyn in the first season of The Munsters
|First appearance||"Munster Masquerade"|
|Last appearance||"A Visit from the Teacher"|
|Portrayed by||Beverley Owen (1964)|
Pat Priest (1964–1966)
Debbie Watson (1966)
Jo McDonnell (1981)
Hilary Van Dyke (1988–1991)
Christine Taylor (1995)
Elaine Hendrix (1996)
Charity Wakefield (Mockingbird Lane)
Marilyn Munster is a fictional character in the CBS sitcom The Munsters, originally played by Beverley Owen and later by Pat Priest. In the original series she is the daughter of Lily Munster's sister, with Herman alluding to her "plain" looks coming from Lily's side of the family. She was played by Hilary Van Dyke in the 1988 series The Munsters Today.
Played first by Beverley Owen and then by Pat Priest, Marilyn lives with the Munsters throughout the series run. It is never made clear why Marilyn lives with the Munsters, rather than with her parents, who are said to still be in Transylvania. Although she is Lily's niece, she is always referred to as "Marilyn Munster" (while the character was being developed, her name was Marilyn Mundane).
Marilyn is a fetching young woman and the only family member who is not ghoulish in appearance; by the Munsters' aesthetic standards, she is distressingly unattractive. The family views Marilyn's appearance as an affliction, but still treat her with kindness and love. Marilyn herself is all too aware of her "homeliness" and bemoans that she keeps scaring off potential boyfriends, having no clue that the young men are in fact frightened away by her monstrous family.
She attends Westbury College in Mockingbird Heights. She is devoted to her family, and the surest way for a suitor to alienate Marilyn (rather than vice versa) is to disparage them. She considers her Uncle Herman and Grandpa the "two [finest] men [who ever] walked this earth."
Despite being a “normal” beauty by society standards, the Munsters' strange subculture of vampires, werewolves, zombies, sorcerers, mad scientists, et al., have made her a ghoul at-heart (she regularly assists Lily in cooking rodents, & festooning the house with cobwebs). Like the rest of her family, she believes that the Munster lifestyle is normal, and dissenters are out-of-step. In one episode, Herman was temporarily transformed into a normal, clean-cut man. The family, including Marilyn, was appalled and physically repelled by the tragic event.
Despite standing out amongst the cast more than any other character, Marilyn was the least developed character in the series. She usually served as an ear for Lily's expeditions, or a subject for Grandpa's foiled potions.
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Marilyn was originally played by Beverley Owen, who was 27 years old at the time and had to wear a blonde wig to resemble Marilyn Monroe. Convinced that the show would never succeed, she accepted the role of Marilyn, but her problems started when she had to move out of New York. On occasions, she was seen depressed and even crying in the studios. The role was taken over in episode 14 by Pat Priest after Owen left to marry future Sesame Street writer and director Jon Stone. According to Al Lewis in a 2001 interview with Pittsburgh radio's Doug Hoerth, Beverley Owen was troubled by the separation from her boyfriend, who stayed in New York City, and on petitions from Al Lewis and Fred Gwynne was let go by the studio. According to Michael Davis's book, Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street, Owen's problems on the set were acts, formulated by both her and Stone to get her released from the series, so she could relocate to New York permanently.
In other media
In the original series, Marilyn attends Westbury College in Mockingbird Heights. Subsequently as explained for the 22-year gap in The Munsters Today, Marilyn, this time played by Hilary Van Dyke, is revealed to be a high school student, with a slight rebellious streak. In the 1966 film Munster, Go Home!, she was played by Debbie Watson. In the 1981 film The Munsters' Revenge, she was portrayed by Jo McDonnell.
In NBC's 2012 pilot Mockingbird Lane, a darker reformatting of the series, Marilyn is the daughter of Lily's sister but was raised by her aunt, uncle and grandfather after her mother attempted to eat her.
- "A Look At Charity Wakefield As Marilyn Munster For Mockingbird Lane". Cinemablend.com. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
- Aquino, Tara. "Marilyn Munster on The Munsters - 25 Casting Fails in TV That They Expected Us Not to Notice | Complex UK". Uk.complex.com. Retrieved 2015-06-03.