TV Star Butch Patrick Brings in Munster Koach and Drag-U-La
By Jeff Barnes
Alert drivers on the Northwest Radial last week might have noticed an unusual car in the next lane, looking like an elongated hot rod but also something like an old-time hearse. It’s weird enough to share the traffic with the family car from the ‘60s TV sitcom “The Munsters,” but how about knowing it was driven by Butch “Eddie Munster” Patrick?
Patrick was in town with both the Munster Koach and “Drag-U-La,” the coffin-theme dragster driven by “Grandpa” on the show. He owns both tribute cars, created to honor the original vehicles which appeared on the TV show. Since the original coach is between museums and no one knows the whereabouts of the dragster, tributes are the closest true fans can come to seeing the cars. And there IS only one Eddie Munster.
Patrick – joined by his wife Leila – has been tooling across the country for the last few years with his cars. He bought them four years ago after a few years of attending events with the builder and previous owner of the cars, Rucker Posey.
“I met him at an event we were both attending – he was dressed as ‘Grandpa’,” said Patrick. “We made a number of appearances over the years and one day he asked if I knew anyone who might be interested in buying them.”
As a true member of the Munsters family and making appearances as such, it made sense for Patrick to buy the cars, along with the truck and trailer (which has Eddie’s pet dragon “Spot” at its front).
Patrick came to know and become friends with the “Kustom Car King” George Barris, whose shop built the originals. “I’d known him since I was on the TV show, but we reconnected at a car show when I was 30 and became friends,” said Patrick, now 65. “In fact, he introduced my wife and me to each other at a car show we were all attending.” (Barris passed away in 2015.)
A child actor starting at age 7, Patrick appeared on many TV shows of the ‘60s including “My Favorite Martian,” “Bonanza,” “Gunsmoke,” and others. But it was his casting as “Edward Wolfgang Munster,” the werewolf offspring of Herman and Lily on “The Munsters” that gave him an alternate identity for likely the rest of his life. The show ran from 1964 to 1966 and is still seen in syndication more than fifty years later, ensuring its popularity.
For a time, Patrick put the role and show business behind him, but eventually came back to embrace “Eddie” including in a cameo on “The Simpsons.” Hek now makes at least one hundred appearances a year, typically with the cars in tow. Halloween is usually booked up – in fact he was last in Omaha seven years ago for the Haunted Hallow theme park – but he’s constantly booking via his website, http://www.Munsters.com.
Weekends are filled with promoted stops at car dealerships, race tracks, festivals, and exhibitions, but he fills the weeks and routes with “mom-and-pop” stops that are easy tie-ins. For example, while on their way to the Kearney Raceway Park for July 20, the Patricks stopped in Omaha at Voodoo’s Odd Shop on the Northwest Radial Highway and at Quaker Steak and Lube in Council Bluffs for its regular Thursday night car show. At both sites, he signed autographs, sold photos, and gave rides in the coach car for a nominal fee.
“It lets me meet fans who can’t make it to the Comicons, and makes a few bucks to offset the cost of travel,” Patrick said. The costs do add up, with him averaging around fifty thousand miles a year with his truck and trailer. And those are some monster miles.