The Addams Family

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From left to right, Pugsley, Wednesday, Gomez, Aristotle the octopus, Uncle Fester, Morticia.

The Addams Family is a group of fictional characters created by American cartoonist Charles Addams. The Addams Family characters have traditionally included Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Grandmama, Wednesday, Pugsley, Cousin Itt, 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 death in 1988. They have since been adapted to other media, including television series (both live and animated), films, video games and a musical.

Premise and background[edit]

Addams Family cosplayers

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[1]

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 hometown of Westfield, New Jersey, an area full of ornate Victorian mansions and archaic graveyards.[2] 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.[3]

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",[4] 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.[5] 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.[5]

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."[6]

Adaptations[edit]

Television series, episodes, and films[edit]

The Addams Family (1964–1966)[edit]

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 45 rpm 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)[edit]

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)[edit]

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. Felix Silla reprised his role of Cousin Itt, connecting it to the original TV series. The pilot aired in 1973, but was not picked up for a series.[7]

The Addams Family (1973–1975)[edit]

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)[edit]

A television reunion movie, Halloween with the New Addams Family, aired on NBC on 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. Veteran character actors Parley Baer and Vito Scotti, who both had recurring roles in the original series, also appeared in the movie. 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)[edit]

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. Veteran voice actors Jim Cummings, Debi Derryberry, Jeannie Elias and Pat Fraley did the voices of Lurch, Wednesday, Pugsley and Cousin Itt, respectively. 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)[edit]

Main article: The New Addams Family

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[edit]

The Addams Family (1991)[edit]

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)[edit]

Main article: Addams Family Values

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 and Carol Kane in the first and second films, respectively. 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)[edit]

Main article: Addams Family Reunion

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.

Cancelled film[edit]

In 2010, it was announced that Illumination Entertainment, in partnership with Universal Pictures, had acquired the underlying rights to the Addams Family drawings.[8] 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.[9] In July 2013, it was reported that the film was cancelled.[10]

Reboot[edit]

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 and 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.[11]

Parodies[edit]

Two animated television spin-offs have been produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions.

Video games[edit]

Five video games released from 1989 to 1994 were based on The Addams Family.

Pinball[edit]

Further information: The Addams Family (pinball)

A pinball game by Midway (under the Bally label) was released in 1992 shortly after the movie. It is the best-selling pinball game of all time.[13]

Books[edit]

The Addams Family[edit]

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.[citation needed]

The Addams Family Strikes Back[edit]

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.[citation needed]

The Addams Family: An Evilution[edit]

Further information: 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.

Advertising[edit]

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.[14] 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.[15]

In 2007 and 2008, the Addams Family appeared as M&Ms in an advertising campaign for M&Ms Dark Chocolate.[16]

Soundtrack[edit]

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.

Musicals[edit]

The Addams Family (2010)[edit]

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.[17] 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,[18] after an out-of-town tryout in Chicago at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts from November 13, 2009 to January 10, 2010.[19][20] 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.[21]

Cast[edit]

Show Gomez Addams Morticia Addams Pugsley Addams Wednesday Addams Uncle Fester Grandmama Lurch Thing Cousin Itt
The Addams Family (1964–1966) John Astin Carolyn Jones Ken Weatherwax Lisa Loring Jackie Coogan Blossom Rock Ted Cassidy Ted Cassidy / Jack Voglin Felix Silla
The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972) John Astin Carolyn Jones Jackie Coogan Ted Cassidy
The Addams Family Fun-House (1972) Jack Riley Liz Torres Butch Patrick Noelle Von Sonn Stubby Kaye Pat McCormick Felix Silla
The Addams Family (1973–1974) Lennie Weinrib Janet Waldo Jodie Foster Cindy Henderson Jackie Coogan Janet Waldo Ted Cassidy John Stephenson
Halloween with the New Addams Family (1977) John Astin Carolyn Jones Ken Weatherwax Lisa Loring Jackie Coogan Jane Rose Ted Cassidy Ted Cassidy Felix Silla
The Addams Family: The Animated Series (1992–1993) John Astin Nancy Linari Jeannie Elias Debi Derryberry Rip Taylor Carol Channing Jim Cummings Pat Fraley
The Addams Family (1991) Raúl Juliá Anjelica Huston Jimmy Workman Christina Ricci Christopher Lloyd Judith Malina Carel Struycken Christopher Hart John Franklin
Addams Family Values (1993) Raúl Juliá Anjelica Huston Jimmy Workman Christina Ricci Christopher Lloyd Carol Kane Carel Struycken Christopher Hart John Franklin
Addams Family Reunion (1998) Tim Curry Daryl Hannah Jerry Messing Nicole Fugere Patrick Thomas Alice Ghostley Carel Struycken Christopher Hart Phil Fondacaro
The New Addams Family (1998–1999) Glenn Taranto Ellie Harvie Brody Smith Nicole Fugere Michael Roberds Betty Phillips John DeSantis Steven Fox David Mylrea / Paul Dobson
The Addams Family (musical) (2010) Nathan Lane Bebe Neuwirth Adam Riegler Krysta Rodriguez Kevin Chamberlin Jackie Hoffman Zachary James Fred Inkley Fred Inkley

References[edit]

  1. ^ Miserocchi, H. Kevin; Charles Addams (2010-03-31). The Addams Family: An Evilution. Pomegranate Books. ISBN 978-0-7649-5388-0. 
  2. ^ Potter Kass, Christy (2010-10-13). "Westfield Native Charles Addams Still Very Much a Part of his Hometown; Addams Family Online Drawing Contest Ends October 20th". TheAlternativePress.com. Retrieved 2010-12-15. 
  3. ^ Jones, Chris (2009-12-10). "'The Addams Family' at Oriental Theatre: In need of more 'Family' time". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  4. ^ Austro-Bavarian/Yiddish: Lit. "little boy"
  5. ^ a b Maslin, Janet (26 October 2006), "In Search of the Dark Muse of a Master of the Macabre", The New York Times: E9, retrieved 2006-10-26 
  6. ^ Grant, Gavin J. (2000). "Ray Bradbury Interview Part 1". IndieBound. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  7. ^ MemorableTV.com. "The Addams Family Fun-House". MemorableTV.com. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  8. ^ Mike Fleming (2010-03-18). "Tim Burton's Next 3D Animated Film? Da Da Da Da, Snap Snap: 'The Addams Family'". Deadline. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  9. ^ Fleming, Mike (2010-08-19). "Tim Burton Reunites With 'Ed Wood' Scribes For 'Addams Family' And 'Big Eyes'". Deadline. Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  10. ^ Debruge, Peter (July 17, 2013). "Illumination Chief Chris Meledandri Lines Up Originals for Universal". Variety. Retrieved July 18, 2013. 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.” 
  11. ^ ‘Addams Family’ Reborn As Animated Movie At MGM (EXCLUSIVE)
  12. ^ ‘Adult Wednesday Addams’
  13. ^ Porges, Seth (2008-08-05). "Top 8 Most Innovative Pinball Machines of All Time". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 
  14. ^ Pollack, Andrew (1994-10-17). "Honda Set to Play Catch-Up in Mini-Van Market". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  15. ^ paulafromtwoson (2007-03-25). "Japanese Car Commercials". Addamses: The Addams Family Archive. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  16. ^ TV Series Finale (2007-04-30). "The Addams Family: A Spooky Yet Sweet Return". TV Series Finale. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  17. ^ Jones, Kenneth (2007-05-21). "Go, Go, Go Gomez! Addams Family Musical, by Lippa, Brickman and Elice, In Development". Playbill. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  18. ^ Jones, Kenneth (2009-12-29). "Zaks Is New Patriarch of Addams Family; Previews Will Now Begin March 8". Playbill. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  19. ^ Jones, Kenneth; Gans, Andrew (2008-08-04). "Lane, Neuwirth, Chamberlin, McCarthy and Arden Featured in Addams Family Reading". Playbill. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  20. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Addams Family Sings Together in NYC Workshop of New Musical, With Lane and Neuwirth", playbill.com, January 2009
  21. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Addams Family Musical to Star Lane, Neuwirth, Carmello, Hoffman, Chamberlin and More", playbill.com, May 11, 2009

External links[edit]