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Frankenstein's Monster - Famous monster that first appeared in the 19th century novel "Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus" (1818) written by Mary Wollstoncraft Shelley.

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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 to party!"

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 Shrimpenstein.

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 combat crime.

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 Manor.

Animated cartoon series to feature Frankenstein's Monster included:

  • MILTON THE MONSTER/ABC/1965-67 about a goofy, tenderhearted monster who lived at Horrible Hall.
     
  • 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 cereals.

TRIVIA NOTE: For a comprehensive overview of the Frankenstein Monster read: The Frankenstein Catalog by Donald F. Glut. (McFarland Press, 1984).  See also "Lurch"


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