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February 06, 2005

'Grandpa Munster' Al Lewis Passes

Al Lewis

Los Angeles, CA –
TV/film actor Al Lewis, best known for his portrayal of wacky and lovable 'Grandpa Munster' on the 1960s series The Munsters, died Friday. Though widely reported to have been 95, Lewis' son Ted told the Hollywood Reporter that his father was 82 years old.

Lewis embossed the starchy-tuxedoed image of 'Grandpa Munster' into viewers hearts with his pointy nose and high-arch brows. While some celebrities bemoan the typecasting that comes with playing memorable roles, Lewis had fun with his work as 'Grandpa Munster.' 

Even later in life, strangers would reportedly greet Lewis as 'Grandpa' and he made appearances in character for decades according to the Associated Press: "Why would I mind?" he asked during a late 90s interview. "It pays my mortgage."

Lewis found his first show business break as a circus performer, then moved on to Broadway comedies and eventually landed on the television in the 1960s.  Prior to 'Grandpa Munster,' Lewis was know to fans everywhere as Lt. Leo Schnauzer on Car 54, Where Are You?, and also guest starred on programs such Green Acres, Love American Style, Lost in Space and Taxi.

Lewis also made quite a few film appearances, including They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Used Cars and Married to the Mob. Lewis also popped up as Lt. Schnauzer once more for the 1994 feature film remake of Car 54.

Lewis remained active throughout his life, until failing health caught up with him in later years. Lewis worked as an actor, basketball coach, restaurateur and, at one point, a candidate for state office.

His New York radio show, "Al Lewis Live" aired on WBAI until he died. Lewis actively operated his popular Greenwich Village restaurant, Grandpa's. Plus, he ran for governor of the state of New York as a Green Party candidate in 1987 against George Pataki.  While he did not get the governor's mansion, Lewis did manage to win over 52,000 votes.

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