This sweet, wholesome, porcelain-skinned beauty was your typical bouffant blonde of the early-to-mid 1960s. She was picture perfect, whether romping along the coast of Malibu Beach in a bikini or peering over a white picket fence as the girl-next-door. Pat Priest was born Patricia Ann Priest on August 15, 1936 in Bountiful, Utah. Her mother, Ivy Baker Priest, was a renowned government official and served as United States Treasurer under the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration from 1953-1961. She also was California’s Treasurer while Ronald Reagan was Governor from 1966-1974. Living a glamorous débutante’s life in Washington, D.C. during her mother’s 1950s term, she won attention as a beauty contest winner in the area.
Stagestruck, she moved to Los Angeles and pursued commercials, modeling and community theater work. She happened to be in the San Francisco Bay area, in 1964, when she got the call from Hollywood as a possible replacement for lookalike actress Beverley Owen, the original Marilyn Munster, who was suddenly leaving the series The Munsters (1964) for marriage. Most viewers never caught on that there was a cast change. The decorative sitcom role did wonders for Pat as the prettiest resident of 1313 Mockingbird Lane, making her a minor household name. On the down side, she was given very little to do but to serve as a pretty and innocent foil for the weird and funny characters around her.
Her one-joke premise revolved around her feeling abnormal amid her ghoulish relatives. The series ran another two seasons with Pat, then she went on to what would become a less-than-enviable post-Munsters career. Other than a few guest roles in such series as Bewitched (1964), Perry Mason (1957), The Virginian (1962) and The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970), the pickings grew scarce. Deemed too old to play Marilyn after the series was canceled (she was 30), she was replaced by redheaded Debbie Watson for the feature film, Munster, Go Home! (1966), which included the rest of her series cast.
She did dally around with Elvis Presley in Easy Come, Easy Go (1967), one of his lesser vehicles, and also appeared in the sub-par cult horror film, The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant (1971), which co-starred Bruce Dern and Casey Kasem, but film roles were almost non-existent after that. Pat finally retired from acting in the 1980s but still attends many of the nostalgic conventions and Munsters revivals around the country. At last report, she was restoring and selling homes in Idaho, where she had lived for over 20 years. Married twice, she has two sons: Pierce and Lance Jensen.
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