Marilyn was the “ugly” or “misfit” blonde-haired college-age niece of Lily Munster in The Munsters. The role was originally played by Beverly Owen for the first 13 episodes of the show. When Owen left the role, it was given to a then 28-year-old Pat Priest, who would forever be associated with the role and the show.
Pat Priest was born on August 15, 1936 in Bountiful, Utah to Roy Fletcher Priest and Ivy Baker Priest, who served as the United States Treasurer from January 28, 1953 to January 29, 1961 (If you collect money from that era, you’ll see her signature on the face of the bills). Priest wound up living in Washington, D.C. with her mother. She graduated Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia in 1955.
In early 1964, writers Allan Burns and Chris Hayward submitted The Munsters script to Universal which was taken to pilot by CBS. Beverly Owen was cast as the original Marilyn but disliked the role. Priest took the role and it was hers for the duration of the series. When the show ended, Universal released a feature film, Munster, Go Home! but did not use Pat Priest as Marilyn. Instead, the studio went with Debbie Watson who was 12 years younger than Priest. Priest did have a career after The Munsters though. She appeared in such TV shows as Bewitched, Perry Mason and Mary Tyler Moore, where she played Betty White’s (yes that Betty White) younger sister. She even starred in four movies: Looking For Love starring Connie Francis, Easy Come, Easy Go with Elvis Presley, The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant with Bruce Dern (father of Jurassic Park‘s Laura Dern) and Some Call It Loving starring Zalman King.
Pat Priest has two children, currently resides in Idaho and makes convention appearances, sometimes opposite co-star Butch Patrick. Despite her “looks,” Herman and the rest of the family loved Marilyn and always included her with the rest of the family, even if outsiders could not make the connection. It is a lesson in acceptance and loving someone no matter how different they may be.
(Joe Grodensky – @JoeGrodensky)