The Man: Earl Muntz

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Film Synopses

Thumbnail Synopsis


“Madman” Muntz, one of the 20th century’s zaniest entrepreneurs, made and lost three fortunes.  Success in Los Angeles transformed him from a Midwestern con man into the very soul of honesty.  A workaholic who found time to run with the Hollywood elite, he was full of fun. So is this film! 


Short Synopsis


“Madman Muntz: American Maverick” is the cinematic saga of Earl Muntz, one of the 20th century’s zaniest and and most  flamboyant entrepreneurs.  A fun-loving rascal who played as hard as he worked, he made and lost three multimillion dollar fortunes,  competed with RCA and Motorola with his Muntz TVs, produced America’s first sports car (the Muntz Jet), literally invented car stereo, and still found time to hang with Howard Hughes, Mickey Rooney, Ronald Reagan, Gene Autry and Clark Gable, date Ava Gardner, film noir icon Jane Greer and comedienne Phyllis Diller, and marry and divorce seven glamorous women!  Earl always had a good time, and audiences will have a great time watching his story unfold on the silver screen!


Full Synopsis


Earl “Madman” Muntz was one of the most colorful entrepreneurs of the 20th century.  He made and lost three multimillion dollar fortunes, married seven beautiful women and hobnobbed with the Hollywood elite.

Born in Elgin, Illinois, to a prominent family, Earl Muntz showed an early genius for electronics, building his first radio at age eight. His love of autos had him fixing up and selling Model T’s at age ten. When the Depression hit, he dropped out of school in favor of making money.  At age 14, he was installing some of the first radios in cars. At 18, he opened his first used car lot but had to have his mother sign the contracts as he wasn’t of age!  Rascal that he was, Earl used his genius to scam and con his way to local prominence.

On a trip to Los Angeles at age 26, he saw that used cars were bringing much higher prices than in Illinois, so he established a car lot in L.A.  and had cars shipped out from the Midwest.  Hooking up with a young advertising genius named Mike Shore, who put together a sensational campaign, Earl Muntz soon became the “Madman” and an entity in Southern California.  His huge success transformed him from a con man into the very soul of honesty.  He became a celebrity’s celebrity.  Tour buses included his used car lot, the largest in the world during the ‘40s, on their itineraries.

Having conquered the world of used cars, and wanting another itch to scratch, Earl decided to go into the fledgling television business. He was awarded the Horatio Alger Award in 1949 for his phenomenal success with Muntz TV.  In fact, he invented the word “TV” and named his daughter Tee Vee!

In the ‘50s, he produced the Muntz Jet, America’s first sport car. It featured the frrst car seat belts, wild upholstery... and a backseat bar!  Today, savvy car collectors are restoring Muntz Jets to their former glory.

He literally invented the car stereo tape deck, opening his first factory in 1961. His Muntz Stereo-Paks were the forerunners of all of todays’s sophisticated car sound sysetms.   For this technological achievement, he was inducted into the Electronics Hall of Fame.

One of the intriguing things about this car, TV and stereo salesman is that he became part of the Hollywood celebrity crowd, as well as a household name.  Why?  How?  What was it about Earl that captivated so many?  He counted among his friends people as diverse as Howard Hughes,  Mickey Rooney,  Gene Autry, Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan and Mort Sahl.

He dated Ava Gardner, film noir icon Jane Greer and comedienne Phyllis Diller.  His seven glamorous wives included two actresses (Joan Barton and Diane Garrett) and one model (Patricia Stevens, founder of the Patricia Stevens Modeling Schools). 

The documentary film MADMAN MUNTZ: AMERICAN MAVERICK  features interviews with Earl’s family, friends and employees from his hometown of Elgin, Illinois, as well as friends from his California days including ad man Mike Shore, Dick Clark, Mrs. Gene Autry, Phyllis Diller and Angie Dickinson.  In addition, there is wonderful vintage film shot by Madman himself during the ‘30s through the ‘80s. And, as if that weren’t enough, there are clips from feature films relating to Earl and clips from Earl’s television interviews.

Madman Muntz was full of fun and this movie of his life is, too!



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