Fred Gwynne......

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Biography...

Gwynne's father was a successful stockbroker, his mother, a talented artist who created the popular comic strip,Sunny Jim, a talent that Fred himself would go on to replicate,more so when his father died after a routine sinus operation when Fred was just nine years old. Fred's relationship with his mother grew closer after this and with her nurturing and guidance, Fred was able to be confident and comfortable with his ever growing height during his adolescence. Fred experienced a privileged youth.Wealth allowed him to enter Groton,an elite and highly competitive east coast prep school. Fred was an outgoing and popular 
student. He sang in the school choir and excelled in his art classes,studying under the noted portrait artist,R.S Merryman
His enthusiasm for art grew and he also joined the drama program,allowing him to display his whimsical personality.
In 1941, america entered the second world war. When Fred graduated in 1944,he immediately enlisted in the united states navy. for two years, he served aboard a sub chaser in the pacific as a radio operator, a job that he didn't enjoy and went to extreme lengths to get out of.
soon came a more intellectual challenge,when he entered Harvard university. it was here that the undergraduate discovered an outlet for his artistic talent and wicked with,on the staff of the Harvard lampoon. by 1950,Fred's gift for satire catapulted him to the presidency of the notorious humour magazine. he also lent his talent to the hasty pudding society and it his outrageous antics became legendary around campus. Fred was anxious to test his popular skills outside the ivy league and began performing at a local theatre.
on June 30th 1952, Fred married Jean "foxy Renard. the newly-weds became popular hosts to a large circle of friends, who were charmed by fred's sense of humour.after a successful role as Bottom in the local theatre production of a midsummer night's dream, this gave Fred the confidence to try his luck in the big apple. Fred and Foxy moved into a modest apartment and Fred set out to find work but initially, he met some resistance.His towering height and looks seemed to overshadow his obvious talent but soon he landed a supporting role in mrs mcthing,also starring Helen Hayes.
the following year, Fred was overjoyed at the birth of his first son,kieron but became heart broken when his son suffered a severe brain injury that left him mentally disabled. In 1954,Fred had met director Elia Kazan, who gave him a bit part as one of lee Jacob's henchman, in" on the watefront" with marlon brando. that same year,foxy gave birth to a daughter,Gaynor. whilst being a popular father to his children, Fred would often retreat to his studio,to paint. with his first son's medical costs escalating, Fred took a job as a copywriter for the J Walter Thomson advertising agency. for the next five years he juggled his ad job with a variety of stage and television appearances. in 1958, Fred's active imagination drove him to create "best in show" a book featuring his own portraits of pets and their lookalike owners. two years later he published "what's nude?"a volume of racy cartoons for adults. in 1960 he was offered to appear on Broadway in the musical "Irma la deuce"in 1961, Fred got a call from television producer Nat Hiken, who had previously cast Fred on the Phil silver's show, and offered him the starring role as a New York city cop, opposite Joe.e Ross in a prime time sitcom,called "Car 54 where are you?"Filmed in the Bronx, the show became an immediate hit and 35 year old Fred gwynne,became a household name.
Fred also became a father again,to a son, Dylan.But in 1963,whilst on the set of car 54, Fred got the devastating news that his new son,had drowned accidently in the family's pool in Bedford. fred was inconsolable and the strain ultimately caused a trial separation between him and foxy.Returning hi-stoically to the set of car 54, Fred carried on juggling stage shows and television,and in 1964,fred got a call from Hollywood that would chanhe his life forever.in just a few months after the cancellation of car 54, Fred was offered the lead role in a proposed television show,the munsters, based on such characters as frankenstein,the wolfman and Dracula.teamed with friend and car 54 actor,al lewis, fred played Herman Munster, the father of an eerie family of monsters who lived in a typical suburban neighbourhood.after a few changes to the earlier cast members,fred reluctantly agreed to do the show, production went ahead and Fred reconciled with his wife and moved his family to los angeles.on septemeber 24th 1964, the munsters premiered on cbs.fred used many tools to create his character,by adapting his mother's lyrical vocal tones to adding the hearty laugh of a prop man, his portrayal of this character became his biggest success.he immersed himself into the character so much and played it so well that later this would be a role in which everyone would associate with him and thus cast against this type.on set,fred also suffered terribly with the heavy costume and make up required to bring this character to life. already 6"5, he wore 4 inch lifts, a thick foam costume and a heavy headpiece that would later lead to back trouble and a large amount of weight loss due to sweat.during the second season, whilst the munsters was a massive hit, even producing merchandise to accompany the show,and many demanding personal appearances from the cast, fred and co star al lewis became frustrated with the scripts..with the completion of the second season,ratings began to dip,popularity going towards batman,and with a last attempt at a munster;s movie, the show was cancelled. with a gruelling schedule and repetitive scripts,fred was relieved it had finished.
escaping the role however,proved more difficult for him than he could ever imagine.in 1967,dispirited and seemingly un castable in any roles,he moved back to New York, already weary of the Hollywood lifestyle he immersed himself back into his family,by this time had included another daughter,madyn and a son,evan.even with arrival of two more children, Fred and foxy's marriage was on rocky ground.to escape his misery at home, he took solace in the sound stages and played numerous roles to try to change the public's perception of him but to no avail. instead he went back the one talent of which he had total creative control,his passion for art.inspired by his daughter madyn,he used his artistic talents and using his sense of humour and love of wordplay, he produced a collection of children's books such as the classic "the king who rained" "a chocolate moose for dinner" and "a little pigeon toad" whilst the books were hugely successful, Fred still felt he needed to prove himself as a serious actor. after a few head turning roles, Fred was in demand again. in 1980,his personal life had also taken a turn when he divorced his wife and moved to an apartment in New York.there he met his second wife, Debbie, with whom he would spend his last remaining years on a farm,in Maryland.in 1984 he got a role in the cotton club with Bob Hoskins with whom he wrote his own scenes with. this performance made him noticeable to other potential Hollywood directors and lead to his very successful role in my cousin vinny,playing a stern southern judge opposite Joe Pesci. a box office success, Fred was finally content, but in 1993 at the age of 66,after a routine check up, Fred got the grim prognosis that he had pancreatic cancer and only six months to live. On July 2nd 1993, Fred passed away peacefully in his sleep,just eight days short of his 67th birthday. whilst Fred is gone,his memory will live in through generations,and whilst his most difficult to shed character is the reason for this,he has been quoted as being proud of the Herman Munster character
"And I might as well tell you the truth. I love old Herman Munster. Much as I try not to, I can't stop liking that fellow."


 
 
 
 
 
 

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