Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Eddie Munster, aka Butch Patrick, signs his new bio

Butch PatrickButch Patrick

May 14, 2008

A few years back, Butch Patrick - you know him as Eddie Munster, of "The Munsters" - was in Pittsburgh to participate in a toy and comic convention. Across town, Helen Darras, a Setauket transplant nurse, was at a local hospital for a gathering of urologists, accompanied by her husband and their three sons.

Darras took her brood to the comic convention, where the family met Patrick. When the onetime child star learned of the woman's unusual occupation, he said: "You know, my dad was an organ transplant recipient long before it was fashionable."

Thus began a partnership that culminates today with the publication of "Eddie Munster aka Butch Patrick: The Untold Story of His Early Hollywood-a, Could-a, Should-a Years" - a biography Patrick asked Darras to write because he knew she'd be a thorough researcher. The book, with its flashily lenticular cover, includes "special words" by Howard Stern and a foreword by Louise Harrison, sister of Beatle George.

Patrick, 55, will read from the biography on Saturday at Book Revue in Huntington (7 p.m., 313 New York Ave., free copies if you have a pronounced widow's peak - kidding!). The actor talked to Newsday about working on his life story, and the journey from Mockingbird Heights to a beachfront cottage on the outskirts of Mount Sinai.

You moved to Long Island from L.A. to work on your biography. How do you like it here?

I'm looking out my window and I see boats and I see Connecticut, so it's not that bad. It's just different here for a California lad. I'm more of a warm-weather person.

Why the book, and why now?

I do maybe 10 or 15 autograph shows a year, some car shows - "The Munsters" was known for the hot rods they had, and the toys that were merchandised. People would always say, "You know, Greg Brady did a book." This came about slowly. A lot of people seem to be interested in the '60s: the decade, "The Munsters," pop culture.

Among the stories you recount, one is about the roles you didn't take, such as a part in "American Grafitti."

George Lucas and I met at the beach or someplace very casual like that. I had long hair down to my chest, and he was talking about doing this movie. At the time, Lucas was unknown. But he's got this script, and it takes place in Stockton, where he grew up. And I like cars and everything. Then he says, "It's set in 1962, and everybody's gotta cut their hair." I eliminated myself from the movie, because I didn't want to cut my hair.

Your stepdad, Kenny Hunt, was a prospect for the Yankees who once roomed with Mickey Mantle, and later played for the Washington Senators and Chicago Cubs. It must've been insanely cool to grow up around that.

Don Zimmer played third base for the Washington Senators, and every time I hear his name today, I get a kick out of it, because he's still out there. He played third base when my dad was playing centerfield. There's actually a picture of him in the book, on the "Munsters" set.

Al "Grandpa" Lewis was a beloved figure in New York. How did he treat you as a kid on the set?

[Imitating Lewis] "Yeah, Grandpa." He loved me, but he was always trying to teach me the ways of the world. [Switching voices again] "You think you know. But you don't know. But you think you know. But you don't know. You know nothing!"