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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 February 2006, 12:23 GMT
Television's Grandpa Munster dies
Al Lewis as Grandpa in the 1960s series The Munsters
Grandpa Munster became a popular icon of 1960s television
Actor Al Lewis, best known for his role as Grandpa in 1960s TV comedy The Munsters, has died.

His death was announced by the New York radio station, WBAI-FM, where the actor hosted a weekly series.

"To say that we will miss his generous, cantankerous, engaging spirit is a profound understatement," said programme director Bernard White.

The actor was widely reported to have been born in 1910, but his son Ted said his father was born in 1923.

Dracula costume

Lewis became a familiar face on US television for his role as the irascible Grandpa Munster in the 1960s sitcom, which saw him sporting an elaborate Dracula costume.

Prior to his Munster role, he played Officer Leo Schnauser in the popular police series Car 54, Where Are You?

He went on to star in a number of films, including They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and Married to the Mob.

Al Lewis in 2001
Lewis, a former circus performer, turned to politics in the 1990s

Beyond the silver screen, the former basketball player became a respected talent scout, ran a restaurant in New York's Greenwich Village, wrote two children's books and campaigned as the Green Party candidate for governor of New York.

A Brooklyn native, Lewis continued to work throughout the 1990s and was a frequent guest on the Howard Stern radio show, where he memorably led an obscene chant against the Federal Communications Commission.

Ill health forced him to slow down in 2003, when complications during surgery led to an emergency bypass and the amputation of his right leg below the knee.

He is survived by his wife, Karen, who was at his bedside when he died, three sons and four grandchildren.


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