Al Lewis Biography
Claim to Fame: Actor (The Munsters)
DOB: April 30, 1923
Date of Death: February 3, 2006
Diabetes Type: 1
Mystery surrounds Al Lewis, the eternal entertainer who was born Alexander Meister in Wolcott, NY. Lewis was raised by his mother in Brooklyn. According to a 2006 New York Times article, even his given name is an uncertainty. Throughout his career, Lewis said he was born in 1910, when in fact he was born in 1923. Even his second wife bought this particular stretch of the truth. The reason for the discrepancy is because he was actually younger than his television daughter, Lily Munster, played by Yvonne De Carlo, and he was concerned about not being cast in the role for which he is now famous.
Lewis' many professed careers include vaudeville and circus performer, waiter, salesman, pool-room owner, store detective, and labor organizer in the 1930s and 1940s. He was even a noted basketball talent scout, having played successfully in high school. Lewis later taught school and wrote two children's books, and at the age of 31, he is said to have graduated with a Ph.D in child psychology from Columbia University. However, sources conflict on this fact and the Times reports that Columbia University has no record of this.
A friend suggested to Lewis that he try a career in acting. Lewis agreed and joined the Paul Mann Actor's Workshop in New York in 1949. His knack for acting immediately shown through and he was offered a role as Officer Leo Schnauser on the series "Car 54, Where Are You?" where he starred with Fred Gwynne. After the show ended in 1963, he began acting on the Broadway show Do Re Mi with Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker. Shortly after his work began on Broadway, he was offered the role of Grandpa Munster on the hit TV show, "The Munsters," in early 1964.
When these shows ended, Lewis opened a restaurant in New York called "Grampa's" in Greenwich Village. He also produced a home video for children and appeared on WTBS in a series of Saturday morning programs for children. Lewis once hosted Al Lewis Live, a radio talk show on WBAI in New York City, where he discussed politics. And in 1998, he was the Green Party's candidate for Governor of New York. He won 1% of the vote, losing to George Pataki.
In 1956, Al Lewis married Marge Domowitz and together they had three sons. However, after 21 years of marriage, the couple divorced. Lewis remarried in 1984 to Karen Ingenthron who he remained married to until his death.
In 2003, Lewis was hospitalized for an angioplasty. Sadly complications emerged from the surgery. He was forced to have an emergency bypass and his right leg below the knee was amputated. He died in February of 2003 of natural causes in a hospital. He was 82.
Reviewed by dLife staff 12/13.
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