FRED GWYNNE Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Frederick Hubbard Gwynne                                                               
Born: 10 July 1926 New York City, New York, USA                                               
Died: 2 July 1993 Taneytown, Maryland, USA                                                   
Frederick Hubbard Gwynne (July 10, 1926 – July 2, 1993) was an American                     
television and film actor. Gwynne is best known for his roles as Francis Muldoon             
and Herman Munster in the 1960s sitcoms Car 54, Where Are You? and The Munsters,             
Gwynne was born in New York City, the son of Dorothy (née Ficken) and Frederick             
Walker Gwynne, a partner in the securities firm, Gwynne Brothers. His                         
paternal grandfather was an Episcopal minister who was born in Camus, County                 
Tyrone, Northern Ireland, UK and his maternal grandfather was an immigrant from               
London, England, UK. Gwynne attended the prestigious Groton School and went                   
on to graduate from Harvard University in 1951, where he became a member of the               
Fly Club, and the Harvard Krokodiloes. During World War II, he served in the U.S.             
Navy and studied art on the G.I. Bill.                                                       
His first forays into acting in 1951 did not pay well so he worked for a while               
as a copywriter for J. Walter Thompson. His Broadway career began to take off in             
1952 so he quit the agency. He was a cartoonist for the Harvard Lampoon and                   
became its president; he acted in the Hasty Pudding Club, sang in the Harvard                 
Krokodiloes, and joined the Brattle Theatre Repertory Company after graduation.               
His first Broadway role was as a gangster in a 1952 comedy, "Mrs. McThing,"                   
which starred Helen Hayes.                                                                   
In 1955, Gwynne made a memorable appearance on The Phil Silvers Show as Private               
Honigan in "The Eating Contest." Honigan goes on eating binges when depressed.               
Sgt. Bilko then realizes he can make a quick buck off of Honigan by entering him             
in an eating contest. Gwynne's second appearance on The Phil Silvers Show (in                 
the episode "For The Birds" in 1956) and many other shows led Nat Hiken to cast               
him in the sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? as Patrolman Francis Muldoon, opposite               
Joe E. Ross. During the two-season run of the program he met longtime friend and             
later co-star, Al Lewis. After his experience in The Munsters, he was                         
unfortunate to be typecast as Herman Munster, the tall, goofy parody of                       
Frankenstein's monster, and experienced difficulty with being cast in other                   
projects. Gwynne was 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) tall. For his role as Herman Munster he               
had to wear 40 or 50 lb (20 kg) of padding, makeup and 4-inch elevator shoes.                 
While filming The Munsters, his face was painted a bright violet because it                   
captured the most light on the black-and-white film. Of the face-paint, he said,             
"I didn't mind it all that much, although it kind of made me look like a purple               
Indian." Gwynne was known for his good spirits and sense of humor, and retained               
fond recollections of Herman. He was later cast as Jonathan Brewster, a                       
Frankenstein monster-like character, in a 1969 television production of "Arsenic             
and Old Lace".                                                                               
In addition to his acting career, Gwynne sang professionally, painted, and wrote             
and illustrated children's books, including A Chocolate Moose for Dinner, The                 
King Who Rained, Best In Show, Pondlarker, and A Little Pigeon Toad. He also                 
lent his voice talents to commercials and radio shows such as CBS Radio Mystery               
Theater. Later, he held a number of shows of his art work, the first in 1989.                 
He was able to display his musical talents in a Hallmark Hall of Fame made for               
television production, "The Littlest Angel" (1969). Gwynne eventually proved                 
himself as a fine dramatic actor on stage. In 1974, he played the role of "Big               
Daddy" in the Broadway revival of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Another memorable role               
was as the Stage Manager in Our Town. He also appeared as "Colonel J. C. Kinkaid"             
in two parts of A Texas Trilogy. In 1984, he tried out for the part of Henry on               
the show Punky Brewster. He withdrew when the auditioner identified him as "Herman           
Munster" rather than by his real name. The role of Henry subsequently went to                 
George Gaynes.                                                                               
His performance as Jud Crandall in Pet Sematary was based on author Stephen King             
himself, who is also quite tall — only an inch shorter than the actor — and uses         
a similarly thick Maine dialect. Gwynne's Pet Sematary character has had                     
recurring parody appearances in the South Park episodes "Butters' Very Own                   
Episode", "Asspen", and "Marjorine". Gwynne also had roles in the movies On the               
Waterfront, Disorganized Crime, The Cotton Club, Captains Courageous, The Secret             
of My Success, Water, Ironweed, Fatal Attraction and The Boy Who Could Fly. In               
his last film, the tall imposing actor played Judge Chamberlain Haller in the                 
1992 film comedy, My Cousin Vinny, in which he used a Southern accent.                       
Gwynne died of pancreatic cancer in Taneytown, Maryland on July 2, 1993. He was               
eight days shy of his 67th birthday. Gwynne left a wife Deborah and four