Not All of Grandpa’s Tales Were Tall

By Forward Staff

Published February 17, 2006, issue of February 17, 2006.
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Al Lewis, famous for playing Grandpa on the 1960s television comedy “The Munsters,” certainly had the last laugh.

When he died two weeks ago, newspapers across the country listed him as being 95 years old, but it turns out that the actor-turned-Green Party candidate was only 82. Lewis apparently spiked his age several decades ago in an attempt to secure his breakout role on the ghoulish TV show.

And that’s not all.

According to a lighthearted expose by New York Times columnist Dan Barry, Lewis was not shy about “fleshing out those phantom years.” Barry chronicled several claims that Lewis made about himself, which, on reflection, almost certainly were figments of the actor’s talented imagination.

Barry’s report prompted the Shmooze to revisit an article run in the Forward six years ago about the actor’s ill-fated bid for the Green Party’s nomination in the race against Hillary Clinton for the Senate.

Yes, like everyone else, we had his age wrong. But what about his claim that he had attended the “Harvard of yeshivas,” Brooklyn’s Rabbi Chaim Berlin? Was that, too, a fabrication?

School officials could find no record of Lewis having attended the yeshiva, but one school employee active in alumni affairs said that she recalled seeing the former Munster at a school dinner. She assured the Forward that he had attended the yeshiva as an elementary school student.

That’s good enough for the Shmooze.






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