By Victoria Sogueco ’20
You may know them from the 1991 film starring Raúl Juliá as the suave Gomez, Anjelica Huston in a Golden Globe-nominated role as Morticia, Christina Ricci as the homicide-obsessed Wednesday, Jimmy Workman as Wednesday’s brother and partner-in-crime Pugsley, and Christopher Lloyd as the long-lost Uncle Fester. However, The Addams Family actually goes back decades to 1938, when Charles ‘Chas’ Addams started creating The Addams Family comic panels for The New Yorker.
Morticia was said to be based on Chas’s first wife, Barbara Jean Day. After their marriage ended in divorce, Chas married his second wife, Estelle Barb, who ended up taking the rights of The Addams Family to be made as a TV show or movie from him.
This swindling prompted the production of the first non-cartoon incarnation of The Addams Family, a TV show by ABC, to be halted. The show eventually ran for two seasons (with 64 episodes in total) from September 8, 1964 to 1966. It starred John Astin as Gomez, Carolyn Jones as Morticia, Jackie Coogan as Uncle Fester, Ted Cassidy as Lurch, Blossom Rock as Grandmama, Lisa Loring as Wednesday, and Ken Weatherwax as Pugsley in the black-and-white shot series. However, the show airing also meant that all could watch it, instead of the more “refined” audience that The New Yorker attracted. As a result, The Addams Family cartoons were no longer published in The New Yorker.
Seven years after the first Addams Family TV show ended, ABC conceived another TV show starring the clan, albeit now as a variety show. Its pilot episode ultimately ended up as a special entitled The Addams Family Fun-House. It starred its two writers, Jack Riley and Liz Torres, as Mr. and Mrs. Addams, and Stubby Kaye as Uncle Fester, Pat McCormick as Lurch, and Butch Patrick (then known mostly for portraying Eddie Munster in the similar but arguably more popular show The Munsters) as Pugsley.
Nothing of note starring The Addams Family was produced until 1972, when they starred in an episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies in an episode entitled “Wednesday is Missing,” also known as “Scooby-Doo Meets the Addams Family.” It reunited the original cast: Astin, Jones, Coogan, and Cassidy, and resulted in yet another TV show.
The Addams Family aired from 1973 to 1975, and starred a returning Coogan as Fester (who was now Gomez’s biological brother instead of his brother-in-law) and Cassidy as Lurch, Lennie Weinrib (who was the voice of Scrappy-Doo) as Gomez, Janet Waldo as Morticia, Cindy Henderson as Wednesday, and, before she won two Oscars, a ten-year-old Jodie Foster.
Next came Halloween With the New Addams Family, a special that aired in 1977 and acted as a reunion of the original TV series. However, this special was more bizarre than usual in the sense that two younger siblings, Wednesday Jr. and Pugsley Jr. had been added.
After, the world saw the release of the well-known 1991 movie simply titled The Addams Family. Unfortunately, Charles Addams had died three years prior to the major success of his endeavors. The film earned $191 million against a budget of $30 million, spawning video games, a popular pinball machine, an animated series (from 1992-1993), and 1993 sequel (Addams Family Values).
A more recent incarnation of the family would be 2010’s The Addams Family Musical, featuring, among many others, Bertram from Jessie as Uncle Fester. Despite being a critical failure, the show was a financial success, consistently selling Broadway shows out.
Clearly, The Addams Family has managed to stay relevant for years with their macabre quirks and dark-hued clothes, although they go against what many of us consider “normal.” I guarantee you’ll hear their signature, finger-snap laden theme song sometime soon.