Eddie Munster Is Alive — and Living in Missouri 

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Butch Patrick prepares for the fans at Crypticon in St. Joseph. - PHOTO BY DOYLE MURPHY
  • PHOTO BY DOYLE MURPHY
  • Butch Patrick prepares for the fans at Crypticon in St. Joseph.

The Crypticon crowds in St. Joseph are decent but not overwhelming.

One booth over, David Naughton, the American werewolf in London himself, looks over at Patrick and Leila and gives them a half shrug. Oliver Robins, who played the kid in the first two Poltergeist movies, leaves his perch along the arena's upper walkway and tosses one of his homemade key fobs over the rail to the Munsters booth.

"I made this for you," he says.

Patrick and Leila spend the slow moments straightening their displays and checking in on the Facebook fan page. During a lull, Patrick talks about his stepfather. Ken Hunt started out in the Yankees' organization as a backup, and possible successor, to the legendary Mickey Mantle. A lifelong friend of another Yankees' great, fellow North Dakotan Roger Maris, Hunt seemed on the path to stardom.

"His main thing was fielding," Patrick says, "He could throw it from the warning track to home on the fly. He had a rocket."

The newly formed Los Angeles Angels drafted him from the Yankees in 1961, and Hunt hit 25 home runs with 84 RBIs in his first season on the West Coast. But a shoulder injury nearly ruined his powerful right arm. Hunt could still play, but it was as if his shot at greatness had been stolen from him. He floundered around Los Angeles for another season and a half, followed by a brief and unremarkable stint with the Washington Senators.

"He had a bad attitude," Patrick says of his stepfather's life after the injury. "He felt like the world owed him something, and he faded away."

The tale seems like an obvious parable for one of the most famous child stars of his generation, but Patrick is just telling a story. He liked Hunt. Some of his best childhood memories are of hanging out in the Senators' clubhouse during a father-son game while on a weekend break from filming. He keeps a picture on his phone of himself with Hunt. "He was really a major ballplayer," he says.

Before long, the crowds are moving again. He chats with a cosplayer dressed like a femme fatal from the Batman movies. One of his most loyal fans from the Facebook page drops by to show off an Eddie Munster tattoo she got that morning at a booth on the other end of the arena. It is so new, it's still wrapped in cellophane.

Patrick does not plan to do this work forever. Maybe a few more years on the circuit of weekend car shows and Midwest festivals. He says he could eventually cut back to August, September and October — the demand for Eddie Munster is always highest around Halloween — and then jet off to Costa Rica for the rest of the year.

"I have an exit plan," he says.

For now, he still enjoys talking to fans and traveling around the country. He joins Robins and Sleepaway Camp actress Felissa Rose toward the end of Saturday for a panel discussion on the life of a child actor in Hollywood. He's done dozens of these Q-and-A sessions in dozens of towns, but he's ever aware that his audience hasn't heard it before.

"I really want to do a show one day about what it's like to move back to a childhood town and save a house," he says. "I call it, 'Andy of Mayberry meets Eddie Munster in the Twilight Zone.'"

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