The Addams Family
The Addams Family is a group of fictional characters created by American cartoonist Charles Addams. The Addams Family characters include Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Grandmama, Wednesday, Pugsley, Pubert Addams, and Thing.
The Addamses are a satirical inversion of the ideal American family; an eccentric, wealthy clan who delight in the macabre and are unaware, or do not care, that other people find them bizarre or frightening. They originally appeared as an unrelated group of 150 single panel cartoons, about half of which were originally published in The New Yorker between their debut in 1938 and Addams's 1988 death. They have since been adapted to other media, including television series (both live and animated), films, video games and a musical.
- 1 Premise and background
- 2 Characters
- 3 Paranormal nature
- 4 Adaptations
- 4.1 Television series, episodes, and films
- 4.2 Theatrical feature films
- 4.3 Parodies
- 4.4 Video games
- 4.5 Pinball
- 4.6 Books
- 4.7 Advertising
- 4.8 Soundtrack
- 4.9 Musicals
- 4.10 Cast
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Premise and background
Addams's original cartoons were one-panel gags. The characters were undeveloped and unnamed until the television series production.
Gomez and Pugsley are enthusiastic. Morticia is even in disposition, muted, witty, sometimes deadly. Grandma Frump is foolishly good-natured. Wednesday is her mother's daughter. A closely knit family, the real head being Morticia—although each of the others is a definite character—except for Grandma, who is easily led. Many of the troubles they have as a family are due to Grandma’s fumbling, weak character. The house is a wreck, of course, but this is a house-proud family just the same and every trap door is in good repair. Money is no problem.—Charles Addams
The family appears to be a single surviving branch of the Addams clan. Many other "Addams families" exist all over the world. According to the film version, the family credo is, Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc (pseudo-Latin: "We gladly feast on those who would subdue us"). Charles Addams was first inspired by his home town of Westfield, New Jersey, an area full of ornate Victorian mansions and archaic graveyards. According to the television series, they live in a gloomy mansion adjacent to a cemetery and a swamp at 0001 Cemetery Lane. In the The Addams Family musical (first shown in Chicago in 2009), the house is located in Central Park.
Although most of the humor derives from the fact that they share macabre interests, the Addamses are not typically evil. They are a close-knit extended family. Morticia is an exemplary mother, and she and Gomez remain passionate towards each other. Created by the television series writers, she calls him "bubbele", to which he responds by kissing her arms, behavior Morticia can also provoke by speaking a few words in French (the meaning is not important; any French will do). The parents are supportive of their children. The family is friendly and hospitable to visitors, in some cases willing to donate large sums of money to causes (television series and films), despite the visitors' horror at the Addams's peculiar lifestyle.
Charles Addams began as a cartoonist in The New Yorker with a sketch of a window washer that ran on February 6, 1932. His cartoons ran regularly in the magazine from 1938, when he drew the first instance of what came to be called The Addams Family, until his death in 1988.
In 1946, Addams met science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury after having drawn an illustration for Bradbury's short story "Homecoming" in Mademoiselle magazine, the first in a series of tales chronicling a family of Illinois monsters, the Elliotts. Bradbury and Addams became friends and planned to collaborate on a book of the Elliott Family's complete history, with Bradbury writing and Addams providing the illustrations; but it never materialized. Bradbury's Elliott Family stories were anthologized in From the Dust Returned (2001), with a connecting narrative, an explanation of his work with Addams, and Addams's 1946 Mademoiselle illustration used for the book's cover jacket. Although Addams's own characters were well established by the time of their initial encounter, in a 2001 interview Bradbury states that Addams "went his way and created the Addams Family and I went my own way and created my family in this book."
Originally none of the members of The Addams Family had names, but when the 1960s television show was in development, Charles Addams was asked to provide names for each of the characters. For the father, he suggested Gomez or Repelli; for the mother, Morticia; for the uncle, Uncle Fester; for the grandmother, Grandma Frump; for the butler, Lurch; for the daughter, Wednesday (for being "full of woe"); and for the son, Pubert. Pubert (presumably due to the reference to puberty at a time when such references on television were still taboo) was changed to Pugsley and resurfaced later as the name of the new Addams baby in the later film Addams Family Values. The hairy creature appeared in Addams cartoons as "It", but was named "Cousin Itt" by the show's producer, David Levy.
Gomez became the master of the Addams household and the Addams patriarch, married to Morticia and the father of Wednesday and Pugsley. Originally he was Grandmama's only son, but this was changed in the 1991 film in which he became the younger brother of Fester instead of his nephew-in-law. In the original cartoons in The New Yorker, he appeared tubby, snub-nosed and with a receding chin.
In the 1960s television series, Gomez was portrayed as a naive, handsome, and successful man, although with a childlike, eccentric enthusiasm for everything he did. For instance, his personal portrait depicted him standing gleefully on his own head. Though a peaceful man, he was known to be well-versed in many types of combat; he and Morticia fenced with foils sometimes.
Gomez professed endless love for his wife, Morticia. He had studied to be a lawyer, but rarely practiced, one of the running jokes being that he took great pride in losing his cases. He was also pleased with the fact that his law class had voted him the man "Least Likely to Pass the Bar".
Gomez was depicted as extremely wealthy, through inheritance and extensive investments, but he seemed to have little regard for money. Although he invested in the stock market, to the point where there was a ticker tape machine in the livingroom, he played the market primarily to lose, or else invested in odd schemes that inadvertently paid off big (swamp land found to have oil under it, etc.). Jack Sharkey's novelization claimed Gomez became wealthy through his ghoulish sense of humour, when he discovered it was possible to make a legal killing in the stock market. Despite his macabre sense of humour, he was extremely generous, and would go out of his way to help those whom he considered friends.
Gomez is of Castilian origin, loved to smoke cigars, and would play destructively with his model trains. Of the names which Charles Addams suggested for the family, "Gomez" was the only one that was not "ghoulish" (in the manner of Morticia or Fester). When asked why he suggested the name Gomez for the character, Addams replied that he "thought he [the character] had a bit of Spanish blood in him." However, Addams had trouble deciding whether the character should be Spanish or Italian. He decided that if he were Spanish he should be called "Gomez", but if Italian he would be "Repelli" (even though Gomez and Repelli are actually surnames). The final choice of first name was left up to actor John Astin. Gomez was typically seen wearing conservative businesswear long out of fashion, such as pinstripe suits and spats.
Morticia Addams (née Frump) was the matriarch of the Addams Family, a slim woman with pale skin, clad in a skin-tight black hobble gown with octopuslike tendrils at the hem. Her visual aspect suggested that of some kind of vampire. She adored her husband, Gomez, as deeply as he did her.
Morticia's original mother was Hester "Franny" Frump (played in two episodes of the television show by Margaret Hamilton), but her origins were later depicted differently in the films and she became Grandmama's daughter (and Grandmama became known as Esmeralda Frump). Morticia had an older sister named Ophelia. In the television show, her marriage brought her uncle Fester into the family.
Pugsley and Wednesday
Gomez and Morticia had two children, a son called Pugsley and a daughter called Wednesday. Wednesday was said[by whom?] to have been named after the phrase, "Wednesday's child is full of woe," from the poem "Monday's Child". Her middle name, Friday, corresponds to the 1887 version of the poem [clarification needed]. In the television show she was a sweet-natured, innocent, happy child, largely concerned with her fearsome pet spiders. A favorite toy was her Marie Antoinette doll, which Pugsley had guillotined. The movies gave Wednesday a much more serious and mature personality with a deadpan wit and a morbid fascination with trying to physically harm, or possibly murder, her brother (she was seen strapping him into an electric chair, for example, and preparing to pull the switch); she was apparently often successful, but Pugsley never died. Like most members of the family, he seemed to be inhumanly resilient.
For his part, Pugsley was largely oblivious to the harm his sister tried to inflict on him, or an enthusiastic supporter of it, viewing all attempts as fun and games. In his first incarnation in The New Yorker cartoons, Pugsley was depicted as a diabolical, malevolent boy-next-door. In the television series, he was a devoted older brother and an inventive and mechanical genius. In the movies he lost his intelligence and independence, and became Wednesday's sidekick and younger brother, cheerfully helping her in her evil deeds.
In the animated series, Wednesday became a happy and somewhat optimistic child, while retaining her sophisticated manner from the movies, and Pugsley became a genius at chemistry—especially explosives—and machines, though his intelligence seemed undeveloped at times.
The children appeared to be home-taught, receiving all the education they required from Grandmama or Uncle Fester. An attempt to enroll them in the local elementary school did not work out initially, but in later episodes of the television series, they are depicted as attending it.
In the first movie, the children attended an elementary school and Wednesday was praised for her performance. Both children performed in school plays with their uncle's help. In the second movie, they are on summer vacation from school.
In the stage musical, Wednesday was aged to about 18 years old, while Pugsley was kept as a young child.
Fester is a bald, barrel-shaped man with dark, sunken eyes and a devilish grin. He seemed to carry an electrical charge, as he could illuminate a light bulb by sticking it in his mouth. In the original television series, Fester was Morticia's uncle. In all subsequent animated and film media, Fester was Gomez's older brother, save for The New Addams Family where Fester is portrayed as Gomez' younger brother. The character played a central role in both of the first two feature films. In The Addams Family, Fester was reunited with the other Addamses after 25 years apart, while The Addams Family Values focused on his relationship with Deborah "Debbie" Jellinsky. In the stage musical, Fester is referenced as Gomez's brother, but it is not specified if he is the older or younger sibling.
Grandmama is a witch who deals in potions, spells, hexes, and even fortune-telling. Her trademarks were her shawl and grey, frizzy hair. Charles Addams originally named the character Grandma/Granny Frump in his notes for the adaptation of the cartoons to television in 1965, thereby making her Morticia's mother. For the 1960s television series—as well as The New Addams Family, in which she is named Eudora Addams—her relationship to the family was depicted differently and she became Gomez's mother. However, both feature films and the animated television series conformed to Charles Addams's original concept of Grandmama as Wednesday's and Pugsley's maternal grandmother. In the first film, Morticia and Gomez discussed how Mother and Father Addams were killed by an angry mob, removing any possibility that Grandmama could be Gomez's and Fester's mother. In the third film, in which she was named Esmeralda, she was again implied to come from Morticia's family. The character was simply referred to as Granny in the two animated series. In the second episode of the 1992 series, Grandmama introduced herself with the line, "the name's Granny Frump", while the following episode referenced Gomez's parents, Mother and Father Addams. The 2010 Broadway musical version of The Addams Family poked fun at the inconsistencies of Grandmama's origins. In one scene, Morticia and Gomez both revealed that each believed she is the other's mother.
Another member of the family is "Thing" and, as created by Charles Addams, he was a shy creature mostly seen in the background of Addams's drawings; however, the television series suggested it was a disembodied hand named "Thing", and was Gomez's friend since childhood. He (it is implied in the original television series that the character is male) often performed common, everyday tasks such as retrieving the mail, writing a letter, or just giving a friendly pat on the shoulder, appearing out of ubiquitous boxes or other convenient containers throughout the house. He communicated with the Addamses with a Morse-like alphabet, sign language, writing, and knocking on wood. In the movies and The New Addams Family, Thing was a fully mobile hand, cleanly severed by movie magic just below the wrist (no muscle or bone being visible) and free to scamper about on his fingertips. In the original television series, which included recurring bouts of arm-wrestling with Gomez, Thing never appeared beyond the elbow. He lived in an upstairs closet made up as a house-within-a-house, though he was also shown to reside in a cigar box. In the original television series, Thing was generally played by Ted Cassidy, the actor who also played Lurch. He was usually a right hand, but Cassidy occasionally used his left, "just to see if anyone noticed".
Thing was based on a New Yorker cartoon that depicted a shocked mailman reacting to a sign posted on the Addams mansion which warned "Beware of the Thing". While developing the series, Charles Addams was asked what, exactly, was the "thing"? He opined that for television "thing" could appear as a disembodied head that rolled through the house on various ramps and pulleys. It was decided that a hand would be a bit more palatable. This was to prove a source of some terrible puns. It should also be noted that on March 20, 1954, a cartoon was published in The New Yorker (page 125 of the book The World of Charles Addams) depicting the Addams family at rest in the den with two hands coming out of the record player changing the records. For images of The Thing as drawn by Charles Addams, refer particularly to pages 182–191 of The Addams Family: An Evilution. The producers of the television show, aware of the nearly thirty-five cartoon drawings that included "The Thing," as well as the 1954 incarnation, may well have been inspired to create "Thing" in the series based on the latter.
It is clear from the television show that Thing was not unique. In episode #38, "Morticia Meets Royalty," Princess Millicent von Schlepp arrived and produced an elaborate box from which a distinctly feminine hand (played by Carolyn Jones) emerged. Thing promptly fell in love. The female Thing has an actual name, Lady Fingers; and in another episode #23 we find that Thing, too, has a full name: "Thing T. Thing", the "T" standing for "Thing". At least one other Thing appears on-screen: when Lady Fingers leaves Princess von Schlepp's service, she is replaced by "Esmeralda", a rather hideous old female claw with jewels and nasty black pointy fingernails. In the episode "Thing is Missing", a picture was shown which was supposedly of his parents. The picture only showed male and female hands holding hands. It would appear that "Things" are common among the family's associates.
In addition to Thing, the Addams family also had a tall ghoulish manservant named Lurch. Lurch served as a shambling gravelly-voiced butler, unscarred yet reminiscent of Frankenstein's Monster, and a funereal but obedient "jack of all trades". He tried to help around the house, although occasionally he botched tasks due to his great size and strength, but is otherwise considered quite a catch by the Addamses for his skill at more personal tasks, such as waxing Uncle Fester's head and amusing the children (to whom he was deeply devoted). Surprisingly, he was often seen playing the harpsichord or organ with great skill and uncharacteristic passion. In the Addams Family Reunion, Gomez stated that Lurch is not really an Addams, and Morticia replies that Lurch has parts of many families, and that he has the heart of an Addams. In one episode of the 1960s television series, Lurch's mother, played by actress Ellen Corby, came to visit; she was a short, overbearing little old lady. Lurch, too, had a level of invulnerability; in Addams Family Values, a 20-pound cannonball is dropped from the top of the Addams mansion, landing directly on his head, seemingly with no ill effect. In the original comics, Lurch did not speak. In the sitcom, he was capable of speech; beckoned by the pull of a noose-shaped rope which sounded a thunderous gong, he would answer in a signature monotone, laconic basso profundo, "You rang?" This was due to actor Ted Cassidy ad-libbing the line while rehearsing a scene early in production of the original TV show. The producers liked it so much that Lurch then became a speaking role. In the theatrical movies, Lurch never spoke, using only grunts, sighs, or simple gesticulations. The New Addams Family returned to the original sitcom style, right down to the noose that rang a gong. In it, Lurch also seemed a little more polite than his earlier counterparts. In the stage musical, Lurch is implied to be a zombie and does not speak except for polite grunts all the way until the final musical number, where Lurch delivers his first spoken words in song.
Cousin Itt, as so named by the television series producer, (spelled as "Cousin It" in the movies and the pinball game), who frequently visited the family, was short-statured and had long hair that covered his entire body from scalp to floor. Cousin Itt drove a 3-wheeled car: a Messerschmitt KR175. Although in the series he was shown wearing opera gloves, it is unclear what, if anything, is beneath the hair. In episode 34 of season 1 of the original television series, when Gomez asked Cousin Itt what is underneath all the hair, Cousin Itt replies, "Roots." He was known to speak in a high-pitched nonsensical gibberish, that only the family seemed to understand; in the "My Fair Cousin Itt" episode of the sitcom, Morticia and Gomez, although still failing to realize that Cousin Itt's speech is utterly incomprehensible to most people (Morticia went so far as to admit that Itt sometimes speaks "a bit too rapidly for the average listener," while Gomez had failed to notice even that much), taught Cousin Itt to speak in an understandable baritone voice for acting purposes to suit a theatrical director's tastes. In the second animated series, Itt was a super-spy for the U.S. government. In the movies he fell in love with a human woman, Margaret, and married her after her first husband, Tully the lawyer, is disposed of by the Addams children. He and Margaret (whose child with Tully was missing since the school recital in the first film) go on to have a child in Addams Family Values, named "What" (from the obstetrician's reaction). In Addams Family Values, Cousin Itt performs the wedding of Fester, demonstrating he had some sort of title and legal power that is not explained in the movie.
Relatives and Family Friends
- Cocoon - In Charles Addams's cartoons, a person trapped in some sort of cocoon formed inside a tree is often featured as an Easter Egg. In one cartoon unrelated to the Family, an old couple is completely oblivious to it in their front yard. One of them comments "Sometimes I can't help wondering if Mr. Lawrence really did go to South America." It is often shown beside the mansion in Addams's art.
- Cousin Cackle - Another cousin, named "Cousin Cackle", was depicted as residing in the caves beneath the Addams mansion, often heard laughing in a cackling manner, and appeared in one Halloween episode of the television series to participate in a seance. The eyes of a creature that could possibly be Cousin Cackle is seen peering up from the basement in one of Charles Addams's original cartoons.
- Eimar - Referred to as Uncle by Charles Addams but as Cousin in the television series. A relative of the Addams with multiple arms, though it is inconsistent as to how many he actually has, it ranges from three to eight. Though he only actually appears in two of Charles Addams' cartoons, he's referenced multiple times, usually in the form of a multi-armed sweater being knitted by Grandmama or Morticia. This reference is carried over to the television series where Morticia is seen knitting him a turtleneck.
- The Wall-Eyed Couple - Only appearing in Charles Addams' cartoons they were frequent visitors to the Addams. The husband is tall with bulging eyes and the wife is short with scraggly hair. In one cartoon they also have a two headed son. Despite being featured regularly in the cartoons, they do not appear in any other media, apart from a portrait in the 60s television series (a painting of a man with bulging eyes and his wife, named Uncle Droop and Aunt Drip, could possibly be a reference to the Wall-Eyes).
- Morticia's older sister Ophelia - (also played by Carolyn Jones in the original television series)
- Morticia's mother Hester "Franny" Frump - (played in the 1960s series by Margaret Hamilton, wearing her Miss Almira Gulch dress from the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz)
- Margret Addams - The wife of Cousin Itt. She appears only in the movies, played by Dana Ivey. In the first film she is married to the evil Tully Alford but when she meets Itt at the Addams ball, the two fall in love. After her Tully's presumed death the two get married and have a child called 'What', a miniature version of Itt.
- The Addamses had many other eccentric relatives in the 1960s television series and original cartoons, who are described but never shown—unless they were intended to be represented by any of the bizarre family portraits seen hanging on the walls.
Though the family traditionally only had two children, Wednesday and Pugsley, certain adaptations add more children. They include:
- Wednesday Jr & Pugsley Jr - Gomez and Morticia's third and fourth children. Each one highly resembles its namesake sibling, who have grown into teenagers. They only appear in Halloween with the New Addams Family.
- Pubert - In the 1993 film Addams Family Values, Gomez and Morticia have a third child, a son named Pubert (voiced by Cheryl Chase), a mustachioed baby who seemed to escape certain death through random chance a number of times. At some points in the movie, flaming arrows that originate off-screen fly by, with the implication that Pubert is the one who shot them. Originally conceived by Charles Addams for the character eventually named Pugsley in the 1960s television series, the name was rejected back then due to fears that 1960s network censors would not allow it because of its similarity to the words "pubic" and "puberty". Pubert is referred to in the unrelated 1998 direct-to-video film Addams Family Reunion and the short-lived follow-up series that aired on Fox Family Channel, in which Wednesday stated that there used to be a third sibling, but that they ate it.
- What - The child of Margret and Cousin Itt. The child only appears in Family Values and looks like a miniature version of its father, with a pink pacifier.
In the sitcom, references were made to an innumerable collection of bizarre and unconventional creatures such as hawks, bats, and alligators, although there were a handful with some consistency throughout the various media which the characters have subsequently appeared in.
- Kitty Cat is the family lion, and can be seen in several 1960s television episodes roaming around the house. (Though not seen in the 1991 film, Gomez can be heard shouting 'Down, Kitty!' while going to the vault to pay Tully, while a lion's roar can be heard.) The entire family regarded Kitty Cat as they would an average housecat, and seemed flummoxed at the notion that Kitty Cat is in any way dangerous.
- Pugsley had an octopus called Aristotle, and Wednesday a large collection of spiders, with only one she mentions in particular by name, called Homer.
- The family also had a pair of piranha named Tristan and Isolde, who lived invisibly in a modest fish tank—but whenever Morticia fed them their enormous chunks of meat, the violently churning waters were sure to terrify a visitor.
- There was a vulture named Zelda (changed to Muerto for the first film).
- In the cartoons and the musical Pugsley has a large pet lizard. He is regularly seen walking it with a chain or carrying it in his arms.
- Cleopatra is an African Strangler, a man-eating plant (similar to Audrey 2 from Little Shop Of Horrors), belonging to Morticia. The plant eats meatballs made of yak and other tasty meats specially prepared, and (more often than not) spoon-fed to her. In a season 1 episode, "The Addams Family Meets the V.I.P.'s", Gomez stated that Cleopatra is only three years old. At another point in the series, however, it's said that Morticia had Cleopatra before she and Gomez married, having grown her from a seedling. Cleopatra appeared with the family in an episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies.
- In the musical, the family had a pet giant squid named Bernice, that, one night, crawled up from the toilet. She lived in the sewers beneath the house, and appeared in the grotto. Only her tentacles were shown.
- Also in the musical, there is revealed to be a monster under Pugsley's bed. All we see of it are its green claws. In the tour version, Morticia asks it to keep Pugsley in harm's way, as she plans to leave the household.
The Addams Family residence
The Addams Family's household a gothic revival style mansion had many different incarnations over the years. It made its first appearance (at least, the interior did) in one of Charles Addams cartoons at the same time as characters Morticia and Lurch, . The house was depicted as being a dilapidated mansion that had been condemned (and was seemingly haunted, due to the strange creatures at the top of the staircase). Since then, it had become almost a character itself, and served as the main setting for the rest of the cartoons featuring the Addams family. Stories surrounding the mansion (in video games, primarily) are common, and the house's origins and specific nature were explored more deeply in The New Addams Family than any other incarnation. However, many have cited the early Administration Building at Colgate University, on Oak Drive, as Charles Addams' inspiration for the mansion. (Addams was an alumnus of Colgate University.)
In the 1960s television series, the house was given an address: 0001 Cemetery Lane. Instead of being a dilapidated house, it was now practically a museum, filled with odd statues, trophies, and other interesting knick-knacks. The house also sported a playroom with medieval racks, nailbeds, iron maidens, pillories and stocks, used by the family to relax.
The house once again became a condemned mansion in the New Scooby-Doo Movies television show, in which the Addamses made a guest appearance. In the subsequent Addams Family 1970s cartoon, the mansion was mounted on a trailer and dragged all over the world with the globetrotting Addams clan.
The two Addams Family movies in 1991 and 1993, along with the second animated television series in 1992, resurrected the mansion's original exterior design from the Charles Addams cartoons. The movie Addams Family Values had the mansion appearing exactly as it did in Charles Addams's drawing of the family, about to dump boiling oil on a group of carollers from the roof (a gag that was acted out in the opening sequence of the previous film). The first film reveals the mansion to have a cavernous, pillared, vaulted-ceilinged canal system deep underneath it, traversable by gondola boat to reach the family vault, itself a cluttered room filled with childhood mementos, home movies, and a bar which revolves around to reveal vast halls filled with countless gold doubloons and other treasure.
The New Addams Family provided a cross between the original television show's mansion and the movie/comic strip's mansion. The mansion remained a condemned building (according to Morticia, it had actually been condemned five times), and the interior had various dangerous objects and odd statues, just like the original television show. The entrance gate (nicknamed, appropriately, "Gate" in the original television show and the 1991 film) was now overgrown with foliage. A cemetery was moved next to the house (a change that also occurred in the two feature films and the 1977 reunion special), and there were now various secret rooms and passages. The mailbox and door knockers seemed to be alive. When Gomez and Morticia first moved in as the home's owners (though Gomez and Grandmama had been residents even before then), they thought it was haunted. They regretted that it wasn't, "but you can't have everything". But the existence of the ghost of Aunt Minerva proved otherwise (though she may have "moved in" just recently). It's also mentioned that the home was made of titanium instead of wood (and is consequently bomb-proof), has 26 (or maybe 27) rooms—if Fester has made a new addition with his cannon—and the house has apparently been in the family for centuries. The area surrounding the house can be described briefly as a wasteland, with swamps, a moat, and the like. The address was also changed to 1313 Cemetery Lane in a reference to 1313 Mockingbird Lane, the home of The Munsters.
In the stage musical, the mansion was moved to four acres in Central Park, New York City.
Guests and Neighbors
Most of the Addamses' neighbors were less than understanding of the family's eccentricities. Within the larger community, the Addamses were viewed as eccentric, dangerous, or worse. Both the television show and the movies dealt with outsiders attempting to understand and "correct" the behavior of the family, and remaining frustrated and horrified by the things that the Addamses find amusing. The Addamses, for their part, were often shocked and horrified at the actions of conventional society.
In the first film, the Addams had a resentful neighbor named Judge Womack.
The second animated series introduced three new regular characters: the Normanmeyers (Norman, Normina, and N.J.), a family of "normal" people living across the street from the Addamses. While Norman and Normina were constantly appalled and shocked at the Addamses' macabre behavior, their son N.J. counted Wednesday and Pugsley as his best friends. Norman owned and worked at an underwear factory and was utterly obsessed with underwear, decorating the entire Normanmeyer house with an underwear motif, which arguably made him less "normal" than the Addams Family themselves. Norman was voiced by Rob Paulsen, Normina by Edie McClurg, and N.J. by Dick Beals.
Not originally created by Charles Addams, the Beineke family was introduced in the 2010 musical, as Wednesday and Lucas plan a dinner for their two families to meet. Coming from Ohio, they were described as "straight arrow Midwesterners."They are;
- Lucas Beineke, Wednesday's boyfriend. He and Wednesday planned to get married.
- Mal Beineke, Lucas's father. He worked for an unnamed demolition/real estate company.
- Alice Beineke, Lucas's mother. She loved to rhyme, and to spout happy poems at random.
Unlike The Munsters, which explicitly stated its characters' supernatural origins, the exact nature of the Addamses is never established. They all seemed to share a bond with the occult and supernatural. Uncle Fester was often portrayed as something of a mad scientist, and Grandmama as a potion maker, and Morticia states that her study is spells and hexes in the 1991 movie The Addams Family but, these activities don't really explain the Addams's seemingly immortal state. Much of the food they live on is inedible or outright deadly to normal humans, and they take an interest in painful activities like walking across minefields or having a sharp pendulum cut them in half.
In the 1960s television series, virtually every member of the family demonstrated some uniquely inhuman trait:
- Morticia was able to light candles with the touch of a fingertip.
- Morticia asked a visitor if they minded if she smoked, then crosses her arms and literally starts "smoking" (emitting curls of smoke from her body).
- Gomez was remarkably athletic, his cigar would light the instant he drew it out of his breast pocket and extinguished when replaced, and he could perform complicated calculations in his head (making a mechanical sound as he did so). He often told time by reading the time from his wristwatch (which ran slow), then his pocket watch (which ran fast) and then calculating the difference between the two.
- Fester generated both electricity and magnetism, and powered a lightbulb in his mouth as a party trick. Also, he could play gramophone records with his finger instead of a needle and his mouth instead of a speaker. In The New Addams Family he could also explode at will without harm. Additionally, he suffered from a severe migraine that can be cured by clamping his head in a vise, and apparently caused no harm upon him. He also liked to recharge in his electric chair. Also, when hit in the head by a cannonball, he seems a bit dizzy but is otherwise unharmed.
- Grandmama, in addition to being able to whip up potions of varying effects, could fly on a broom.
- Pugsley was able to hang from tree branches by his teeth, a trait that is only referred to and not seen. He was also depicted as being able to survive any mortal injuries including his sister's regular attempts to kill him. He was also a bit more normal (personality-wise) than the rest of the Addams clan.
- Six-year-old Wednesday was strong enough to bring her father down with a judo hold, and able to survive any mortal injuries inflicted upon her by Pugsley.
- Lurch, a Frankenstein's Monster look-alike, had superhuman strength.
- Thing, who was only seen as a hand reaching out of various boxes around the mansion, could apparently travel from box to box almost instantly.
- Parts of the house, such as the bearskin rug, the front gate, and the doorbell, seemed to be alive and have minds of their own.
None of these traits were considered unusual by any others in the family, but treated simply as individual talents that anyone might possess. All took pleasure in enduring such experiences as lying on a bed of nails, being stretched on a rack, and so forth.
Occasionally, the 1960s series featured guest characters who shared the Addams's tastes, which—along with the fact that the family obviously purchased its yak meat, explosives, etc., from somewhere—implied an entire subculture of people who shared the family's tastes (as seen in several Charles Addams cartoons). In contrast, the Addamses themselves considered such things as daisies, chocolate fudge, the Boy Scouts, and other such traditionally "wholesome" things—as well as any distaste for such things as swamps, octopuses, and hanging upside down from the ceiling—to be odd, if not outright disturbing. Fester once cited a neighbouring family's meticulous petunia patches as evidence that they were "nothing but riff-raff".
Television series, episodes, and films
The Addams Family (1964–1966)
In 1964, the ABC-TV network created The Addams Family television series based on Addams's cartoon characters. The series was shot in black-and-white and aired for two seasons in 64 half-hour episodes (September 18, 1964 – September 2, 1966). During the original television run of The Addams Family television series, The New Yorker editor William Shawn refused to publish any Addams Family cartoons, though he continued to publish other Charles Addams cartoons. Shawn regarded his magazine as targeting a more refined readership, and did not want it associated with characters who could be seen on television by just anybody. After Shawn's 1987 retirement, the characters were welcomed back to The New Yorker.
The television series featured a memorable theme song, written and arranged by longtime Hollywood composer Vic Mizzy. The song's arrangement was dominated by a harpsichord, and featured finger-snaps as percussive accompaniment. Actor Ted Cassidy, in his "Lurch" voice, punctuated the lyrics with words like "neat", "sweet", and "petite". Mizzy's theme was popular enough to enjoy a release as a 45rpm single, though it failed to make the national charts. The song was revived for the 1990s animated series, as well as in 2007 for a series of "Addams Family" television commercials for M&M's candies.
The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972)
The Addams Family's first animated appearance was on the third episode of Hanna-Barbera's The New Scooby-Doo Movies, "Scooby-Doo Meets the Addams Family" (a.k.a. "Wednesday is Missing"), which first aired on CBS Saturday morning September 23, 1972. Four of the original cast (John Astin, Carolyn Jones, Jackie Coogan, and Ted Cassidy) returned for the special which involved the Addamses in a mystery with the Scooby-Doo gang. The Addams Family characters were drawn to the specifications of the original Charles Addams cartoons. After the episode aired, fans wanted more animated adventures featuring the Addamses, and Hanna-Barbera obliged.
The Addams Family Fun-House (1973)
In late 1972, ABC produced a pilot for a live-action musical variety show titled The Addams Family Fun-House. The cast included Jack Riley and Liz Torres as Gomez and Morticia (the pair also co-wrote the special), Stubby Kaye as Uncle Fester, Pat McCormick as Lurch and Butch Patrick (who had played Eddie Munster in The Munsters) as Pugsley. The pilot aired in 1973, but was not picked up for a series.
The Addams Family (1973–1975)
The first animated series ran on Saturday mornings from 1973–1975 on NBC. In a departure from the original series, this series took the Addamses on the road in a Victorian-style RV. This series also marked the point where the relations between characters were changed so that Fester was now Gomez's brother, and Grandmama was now Morticia's mother (though the old relations would be revisited in the 1977 television movie, to keep continuity with the original sitcom). Although Coogan and Cassidy reprised their roles, Astin and Jones did not, their parts being recast with Hanna-Barbera voice talents Lennie Weinrib as Gomez and Janet Waldo as Morticia, while a ten-year-old Jodie Foster provided the voice of Pugsley. Again, the characters were drawn to the specifications of the original Charles Addams cartoons. One season was produced, and the second season consisted of reruns. A complementary comic book series was produced in connection with the show, but it lasted only three issues. The show's theme music was completely different and had no lyrics and no finger snaps, although it retained a bit of the four-note score from the live-action show.
Halloween with the New Addams Family (1977)
A television reunion movie, Halloween with the New Addams Family, aired on NBC Sunday, October 30, 1977. It features most of the original cast, except Blossom Rock, who had played Grandmama but was very ill at the time; she was replaced by Jane Rose. The movie has a slightly different version of the theme song, the finger snaps are used but not the lyrics.
Gomez and Morticia have had two more children, Wednesday, Jr. and Pugsley, Jr., who strongly resemble their older siblings. Gomez's brother, Pancho, is staying with the family while Gomez attends a lodge meeting in Tombstone, Arizona. Gomez is jealous of his brother, who once courted Morticia. Halloween is nigh, and Pancho tells the children the legend of the Great Pumpkin-like character of Cousin Shy, who distributes gifts and carves pumpkins for good children on Halloween night. Wednesday (now called "Wednesday, Sr.") is home from music academy, where she is studying the piccolo (breaking glass with it). Pugsley (now "Pugsley, Sr.") is home from Nairobi medical school, where he is training to be a witch doctor. The family's home has been bugged by a gang of crooks who intend to steal the family fortune. Lafferty, the boss, sends a gang member named Mikey into the house to investigate. Mikey panics and flees after treading on the tail of Kitty Kat the lion. The crooks employ a fake Gomez and Morticia to help in their plans, along with two strong-arm goons, Hercules and Atlas. Gomez returns home for the Halloween party and trimming of the scarecrow. Lafferty poses as Quincy Addams (from Boston) to gain entrance to the house during the party. He has his men tie up Gomez and Morticia and his doubles take their places, confusing Pancho, who is still in love with Morticia, and Ophelia, who is still in love with Gomez. Gomez and Morticia escape (thanks to the "Old Piccolo Game"), and rejoin the party, only to have Lafferty use various methods to try to get rid of them. Lurch scares off the thugs and terrifies Lafferty's other assistant. Fester, trying to be nice, puts Lafferty on the rack. Lafferty tries to escape through the secret passage and steps on Kitty Kat's tail. When the police arrive, the crooks gladly surrender. The Addamses are then free to celebrate Halloween happily, ending the night by singing together in welcome for Cousin Shy.
The Addams Family: The Animated Series (1992–1993)
The remake series ran on Saturday mornings from 1992–1993 on ABC after producers realized the success of the 1991 Addams Family movie. This series returned to the familiar format of the original series, with the Addams Family facing their sitcom situations at home. John Astin returned to the role of Gomez, and celebrities Rip Taylor and Carol Channing took over the roles of Fester and Grandmama, respectively, while veteran voice actors Jim Cummings, Debi Derryberry, Jeannie Elias and Pat Fraley did the voices of Lurch, Wednesday, Pugsley and Cousin Itt. New artistic models of the characters were used for this series, though still having a passing resemblance to the original cartoons. Two seasons were produced, with the third year containing reruns. Oddly in this series, Wednesday maintained her macabre, brooding attitude from the Addams Family movies, but her facial expressions and body language conveyed the happy-go-lucky, fun attitude of her portrayal in the original television show. The original Vic Mizzy theme song, although slightly different, was used for the opening.
The New Addams Family (1998–1999)
The New Addams Family was filmed in Vancouver, Canada, and ran for 65 episodes (one more than the original TV series) during the 1998–1999 season on the then newly launched Fox Family Channel. Many storylines from the original series were reworked for this new series, incorporating more modern elements and jokes. John Astin returned to the franchise in some episodes of this series, albeit as "Grandpapa" Addams (Gomez's grandfather, a character introduced in Addams Family Reunion). Pubert's absence in the new series (and possibly Addams Family Reunion) was explained in an early episode when Wednesday mentioned that "There were three of us, but Pugsley ate the little one." The cast included Glenn Taranto as Gomez Addams, Ellie Harvie as Morticia, Michael Roberds as Fester, Brody Smith as Pugsley, Nicole Fugere (the only cast member from Addams Family Reunion to return) as Wednesday, John DeSantis as Lurch, Betty Phillips as Grandmama and Steven Fox as Thing.
Theatrical feature films
The Addams Family (1991)
In the 1990s, Orion Pictures (which by then had inherited the rights to the series) developed a film version, The Addams Family (released on November 22, 1991). Due to the studio's financial troubles at the time, Orion sold the US rights to the film to Paramount Pictures.
Addams Family Values (1993)
Upon the last film's success, a sequel followed: Addams Family Values (released on November 19, 1993, with worldwide distribution by Paramount). Loosened content restrictions allowed the films to use far more grotesque humor that strove to keep the original spirit of the Addams cartoons (in fact, several gags were lifted straight from the single panel cartoons). The two movies used the same cast, except for Grandmama, played by Judith Malina in the first film and Carol Kane in the second. A script for a third film was prepared in 1994, but was abandoned after the sudden death of actor Raúl Juliá.
Addams Family Reunion (1998)
Another film, Addams Family Reunion, was released direct-to-video on September 22, 1998, this time by Warner Bros. through its video division. It has no relation to the Paramount movies, being in fact a full-length pilot for a second live-action television version, The New Addams Family, produced and shot in Canada. The third movie's Gomez, played by Tim Curry, follows the style of Raúl Juliá, while the new sitcom's Gomez, played by Glenn Taranto, is played in the style of John Astin, who had played the character in the 1960s. The only actors in this Warner Brothers production to have played in the previous Paramount films were Carel Struycken as Lurch and Christopher Hart as Thing.
In 2010, it was announced that Illumination Entertainment, in partnership with Universal Pictures, had acquired the underlying rights to the Addams Family drawings. The film was planned to be a stop-motion animated film based on Charles Addams's original drawings. Tim Burton was set to co-write and co-produce the film, with a possibility to direct. In July 2013, it was reported that the film was cancelled.
On October 31, 2013 it was announced in Variety that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer will be rebooting The Addams Family as an animated film with Pamela Pettler to write the screenplay, Andrew Mittman and Kevin Miserocchi to executive produce the film and are in final negotiations with BermanBraun’s Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun to produce.
- Mr. & Mrs. J. Evil Scientist, a family of fictional characters inspired by The Addams Family appeared on the Snagglepuss and Snooper and Blabber animated television series beginning in 1959 and starred in their own comic book.
- During the first season of the 1960s The Addams Family television show, a Stone Age version of the Addams Family called the Gruesomes moved next door to Fred and Wilma in The Flintstones.
Five video games released from 1989 to 1994 were based on The Addams Family.
- Fester's Quest (1989) was a top down adventure game that featured Uncle Fester.
- In 1992, two versions of The Addams Family were released by Ocean Software based on the 1991 movie; an 8-bit version for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Sega Master System, Sega Game Gear, ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64, as well as a 16-bit version released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Amiga, Atari ST and Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. ICOM Simulations published The Addams Family video game for the TurboGrafx-CD in 1991.
- The games' sequel, The Addams Family: Pugsley's Scavenger Hunt (1993), also by Ocean Software, was based on the ABC animated series and was released for NES, SNES, and Game Boy (although the latter two were just 8-bit remakes of the first SNES game, swapping Pugsley and Gomez's roles).
- Addams Family Values (1994) by Ocean was based on the movie's sequel and returned to the style of gameplay seen in Fester's Quest.
- A Game Boy Color game was released in the 1990s for promotion of The New Addams Family. The game was simply titled The New Addams Family Series. In this game, the Addams mansion had been bought by a fictional company called "Funnyday" that wanted to tear down the house and surrounding grounds to make room for an amusement park.
The Addams Family
This first novelization of the television series, written by Jack Sharkey, was released near the end of the show's second season. The book details the family's arrival in their new home, and explains how it got its bizarre décor. The arrival and origins of Thing are explained. Each chapter reads as a self-contained story, like episodes of the television show. The novel concludes with the Addams family discovering that their lives will be the basis for a new television series. It was published in paperback by Pyramid Books in 1965.
The Addams Family Strikes Back
"The Addams Family Strikes Back" by W.F. Miksch tells how Gomez plans to rehabilitate the image of Benedict Arnold by running for the local school board. The tone and characterizations in this book resemble the TV characters much more closely than in the first novel. Cousin Itt appears as a minor character in this story, but as a tiny, three-legged creature rather than the hairy, derby-hatted character seen on television and in the movies. The novel was published in paperback form by Pyramid Books in 1965.
The Addams Family: An Evilution
The Addams Family: An Evilution is a book about the "evilution" of The Addams Family characters, with more than 200 published and previously unpublished cartoons, and includes text by Charles Addams and H. Kevin Miserocchi, Director of the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation.
In 1994, the actors cast as the Addamses in the first two films (sans the recently deceased Raúl Juliá) were in several Japanese television spots for the Honda Odyssey. The Addamses—most prominently Gomez (for whom a voice actor was used to impersonate Juliá while footage from Addams Family Values was seen) and Morticia—are seen speaking Japanese.
In 2007 and 2008, the Addams Family appeared as M&Ms in an advertising campaign for M&Ms Dark Chocolate.
A CD compilation of the music from The Addams Family TV Series was released in 1981 featuring the theme song from The Addams Family and each of the characters theme music as well as incidental music from the TV Series.
The Addams Family (2010)
In May 2007, it was announced that a musical inspired by The Addams Family drawings by Charles Addams was being developed for the Broadway stage. Broadway veterans Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice wrote the book, and Andrew Lippa wrote the score. Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott (Improbable theatre founders) directed and designed the production, with choreography by Sergio Trujillo. A workshop and private industry presentation was held August 4–8, 2008. Featured in the cast were Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia, Krysta Rodriguez as Wednesday, and Nathan Lane as Gomez. In addition, Kevin Chamberlin played Uncle Fester and Zachary James played Lurch.
The musical opened in previews at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on Broadway on March 8, 2010, with an official opening on April 8, after an out-of-town tryout in Chicago at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts from November 13, 2009 to January 10, 2010. The cast includes Lane as Gomez, Neuwirth as Morticia, Terrence Mann as Mal Beineke, Carolee Carmello as Alice Beineke, Chamberlin as Uncle Fester, Jackie Hoffman as Grandma, Zachary James as Lurch, Krysta Rodriguez as Wednesday, and Wesley Taylor as Wednesday's love interest, Lucas Beineke.
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- Episode 1x02, "Dead and Breakfast", (1992) The Addams Family
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At the same time, Illumination has scrapped a number of planned movie ideas. “Waldo” and a Tim Burton-helmed, stop-motion “The Addams Family” are dead. The company abandoned a Woody Woodpecker pic, and couldn’t crack “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”
- ‘Addams Family’ Reborn As Animated Movie At MGM (EXCLUSIVE)
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