319. “Al Lewis, survivalist.”

The episode:Jack Frost,” ep. 813

The riff: Labeled by Tom as a haggard witch with a pointy nose comes stumbling out of her living house, which is on chicken legs. She’s clearly based on the Slavic myth of Baba Yaga.

The explanation: Al Lewis was an American character actor best known for his role as Grandpa Munster on “The Munsters.” He looks just like this lady, with his pointy nose and crazy hair. On the show, he was a vaguely vampiric character, another oddball among many in the Munster family. Later in Lewis’ career, he became a political activist and also opened an Italian restaurant in New York, where he often appeared in costume.

Novelty factor: I always enjoyed “Munsters” reruns as a kid, but I didn’t actually know the actor who played Grandpa. I had a good laugh when I realized the comparison they were making.

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3 thoughts on “319. “Al Lewis, survivalist.”

  1. You probably found this in your research about Al Lewis, but I’ll say this anyway. Before “The Munsters” which paired Lewis with Fred Gwynne, there was the epic sitcom, “Car 54, Where Are You?” which had the two as cop partners.

    I met and got Lewis’ autograph about 43 years ago (don’t say it!) at the end of a Universal Studios tour. I was with a cousin of mine and saw Lewis and some other actor who was in a courtyard at the end of the tour, greeting people on the tour. All I had was a scrap piece of paper for the autograph, to which he quipped, “What is this, a postage stamp?!” He looked at my cousin and stated, “You’re Armenian, aren’t you.” Which kind of bummed me out, since I’m one of those people, too.

    There’s a huge, long story as to what happened at Universal later that evening, but that’s something I can treat you to privately, along with a craft beer.

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