Frankenstein's Monster - Famous monster that first
appeared in the 19th century novel "Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus"
(1818) written by Mary Wollstoncraft Shelley.
Constructed from the parts of dead bodies by Dr. Victor Frankenstein, the
Monster was an eight-foot human with a hideous face, that was given life via
chemical injections and electrical energy. The tale of the monster was so
fascinating that popular culture has turned it into a cliché, appearing in all
forms of media from radio, recordings, films, and television.
Perhaps the most remembered depiction of the Frankenstein monster appeared in
the Universal motion pictures Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of
Frankenstein (1935) starring Boris Karloff as the Monster.
In the following years, Frankenstein's monster appeared in:
Son of Frankenstein (1939)
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
- Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
- I Was A Teenage Frankenstein (1957)
- Frankenstein's Daughter (1958)
- Frankenstein Meets the Space Monsters (1966)
- Blackenstein (1972), a black version of a white movie classic
- Young Frankenstein (1975)
- Frankenstein: The College Years (10/28/1001) - the FOX network advertised this
made for TV movie with the tagline "He's been dead 100 years... Boy, is he ready
Over the years, television has created a few monsters of their own. The most
popular TV Frankenstein monster appeared on THE MUNSTERS/CBS/1964-66 and its
sequel THE MUNSTERS TODAY/SYN/1988-91. In both, the star was
Herman Munster who lived with his ghoulish relatives at 1313
Mockingbird Lane in the town of Mockingbird Heights. His family included Lili
(Yvonne DeCarlo), his vampire wife, her Grandpa, Vladimir Dracula (Al Lewis),
their "wolfboy," Eddie (Butch Patrick), and Marilyn (Beverly Owen/Pat Priest),
the "black sheep of the family" because she was blonde, beautiful and completely
normal. Herman (played by Fred Gwynne) was seven-feet, three-inches tall; had a
body temperature of 62.8 degrees; a pulse of 15; blood pressure of minus three;
no heartbeat; size 26C shoes; and was a total of 150 years old.
In the sequel THE MUNSTERS TODAY/SYN/1988-91, Herman Munster (played by John
Shuck), now supposedly over 300-years-old, was made of many parts including the
nose of Gregory Fabrock, the town idiot, and the right arm of pickpocket, Igor
Johnson. Herman in both series worked as a gravedigger at the funeral parlor of
Gateman, Goodbury and Graves.
The Munsters also starred in the motion picture Munster, Go Home (1966) where
the family traveled to Munster Hall in England to claim an inheritance; and the
made-for-TV Movie The Munster's Revenge (1981) that featured the evil Dr. Diablo
(Sid Caesar) who created a robot army to commit crimes...crimes for which Herman
and Grandpa were arrested because they looked like the criminal robots.
Both Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis were so popular that they recreated their MUNSTERS
roles in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in 1964 where they rode atop a coffin in
a hearse. A similarly bizarre family on the sitcom THE ADDAMS FAMILY/ABC/1964-66
featured a towering, Frankenstein-like servant/butler named Lurch (Ted Cassidy)
whose catchphrase when summoned by a large gong was "You Rang?"
The puppet series SHRIMPENSTEIN produced in Los Angeles at KHJ-TV in 1966,
starred Gene Moss as Dr. Rudolph von Shtick whose experiment to create a
Frankenstein monster was ruined when jelly beans fell into the electrical
machinery and resulted in a shrimpy but friendly little monster called
The horror comedy THE HILARIOUS HOUSE OF FRIGHTENSTEIN/SYN/1974 starred a
vampire named Count Frightenstein (Billy Van) who was exiled from Transylvania
because he could not bring the Frankenstein Monster to life. With the assistance
of Igor he kept trying to accomplish the deed that lead to his disgrace. The
show was hosted by Vincent Price.
The live-action Saturday morning kids' show THE MONSTER SQUAD/NBC/1976-77, told
the tale of wax museum models of the Frankenstein Monster (Mike Lane), the Wolf
Man (Nick Kartalion) and Dracula (Henry Polic II) that came to life at night to
The short-lived half-hour situation comedy STRUCK BY LIGHTNING/CBS/1979 starred Jack Elam
as Frank, a 229-year-old "original" Frankenstein monster who was the caretaker
for a creaky old Victorian mansion (The Brightwater Inn) on Old Boston Post Road
in Maine that was newly inherited by Ted Stein (Jeffrey Kramer), a young science
teacher who discovered he was the great, great grandson of Dr. Gustav
Frankenstein, the monster's creator. Together, Frank and Ted experimented on
immortality and attempted to build a female for Frank.
The serial HIGHCLIFF MANOR/NBC/1979 featured a scientist named Frances (Eugenie
Ross-Fleming) who created Bram (Christian Marlowe), her own Frankenstein-like
lover who wanted to visit the world instead of being isolated at Highcliff
Animated cartoon series to feature Frankenstein's Monster included:
- MILTON THE MONSTER/ABC/1965-67 about a goofy, tenderhearted monster who lived at
- FRANKENSTEIN, JR. AND THE IMPOSSIBLES/CBS/1966-68 about a giant crime
fighting robot called Frankenstein, Jr.
- THE GROOVIE GOOLIES/CBS/1970 starred the Frankenstein Monster (a.k.a. "Franky")
who cavorted through gags and musical numbers with the monstrous likes as Drac,
Wolfie, Mummy, and Bella La Ghostly.
- THE DRAK PACK/CBS/1980-82 featured a group of teenagers Frankie, Drac, Jr., and
Howler who periodically transformed into versions of Frankenstein, Dracula and
Wolf Man to battle the sinister members of O.G.R.E.
- GRAVEDALE HIGH/NBC/1990-91 told the story of teenage facsimiles of famous movie
monsters who attended Gravedale High School.
The General Mills Company resurrected the frightful classics movie characters of
Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man for a series of TV commercials (created by
Dancer, Fitzgerald and Sample Ad agency) that advertised its new line of
children's cereal. Their mascots included
Franken Berry, a pink monster, and Chocula, a Bela Lugosi sound-a-like who always argued over who had the tastiest
TRIVIA NOTE: For a comprehensive overview of the Frankenstein Monster read:
Frankenstein Catalog by Donald F. Glut. (McFarland Press, 1984).
See also "Lurch"
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