Monday, February 06, 2006

Grandpa Munster, Where Are You?

Al Lewis, the Cantankerous Grandpa of 'The Munsters', Is Dead at 95


Al Lewis, the cigar-chomping patriarch of "The Munsters" whose work as a basketball scout, restaurateur and political candidate never eclipsed his role as Grandpa from the television sitcom, died on Friday after several years of failing health. He was 95 and lived on Roosevelt Island.

Bernard White, program director at WBAI-FM in New York City, where the actor was the longtime host of a weekly radio program, announced the death during the Saturday slot in which Mr. Lewis usually appeared.

Sporting a somewhat cheesy Dracula outfit, Mr. Lewis played the irascible father-in-law to Fred Gwynne's ever-bumbling Herman Munster on the 1960's series. He was also one of the stars of another classic TV comedy, playing Officer Leo Schnauzer on "Car 54, Where Are You?"

But Mr. Lewis also led many other lives off the small screen.

A ballplayer in high school, he achieved some fame as a basketball talent scout.

Later in life he operated a successful Greenwich Village restaurant, where he was a regular presence, chatting with customers, posing for pictures and signing autographs.

In 1998, just two years short of his 90th birthday, Mr. Lewis ran as the Green Party candidate against Gov. George E. Pataki.

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