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Fred Gwynne, Andy Griffith and Hugh Beaumont Were Some of the Best TV Dads in History

So many great actors have played fathers on television, but only a few could be called the best TV dads in history. Stars like Michael Landon, Andy Griffith, John Astin, Ralph Waite, Robert Young, Hugh Beaumont and Fred Gwynne from The Munsters take the cake for the best performances of all time!

In a previous interview with Closer Weekly, Geoffrey Mark, writer and co-director of the 2002 documentary Behind the Fame: The Munsters/Addams Family, recalled Fred’s rise to fame. “I don’t know if you’d call him a big Broadway star, but Fred was a featured player in play after play after play in the 1950s, doing a lot of comedy and singing. And this led him to doing live television and being seen by television people,” Geoffrey said.

In 1964, Fred landed The Munsters and became known as the “6-foot-5-and-a-half inches” actor who played Herman Munster on-screen. The only thing he adored more than his role was his five kids — Madyn, Dylan, Keiron, Gaynor, and Evan. By being a dad to them made his parenting as Herman even more believable on-screen.

“Fred was an actor,” Geoffrey said, “who knew how to play comedy with incredible pinpoint, sharp timing. Like Lucille Ball, he knew how to suspend disbelief so that you could completely buy what was going on. For me, The Munsters is a cartoon — only we believe it because Fred believes it. There was a warmth and a heart that came out of him that made what he did believable.”

After the show premiered, Fred was broadcast as a “character” actor. However, that didn’t stop him from booking jobs. “He went back to Broadway and was a star there, because he could play all kinds of parts,” Geoffrey explained. “He was Broadway-trained and could live quietly working onstage, and then slipping away back to the suburbs to get far away from all of it. That’s how he lived his life.” Fred will always be one of our favorite actors in Hollywood.

Michael Landon was both a fun prankster and a strict father figure on the set of Little House on the Prairie. “We used to catch frogs in the creek,” recalls Rachel Greenbush, 51, who split the role of young Carrie Ingalls with her twin sister, Sidney, told Closer Weekly in May 2021. “We would bring them back to Michael. He would put them in his mouth, walk up to people, open his mouth and the frog would jump out! People would freak out!”

But the majority of the time, Michael ran “a very tight ship,” and when action was called, playtime was over. “He knew exactly what he wanted with every shot and every scene,” Alison Arngrim, 59, who played Nellie, revealed. She added that on set, “there was no real drama because Michael wouldn’t allow it.”

“We were very lucky,” Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura “Half-pint” Ingalls, exclusively told Closer Weekly. “We were like a second family.

For more on your favorite stars, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more exclusive news!

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