Lurch (The Addams Family)
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|First appearance||The New Yorker cartoon, (1938)|
|Created by||Charles Addams|
|Portrayed by||Ted Cassidy |
Ryan Jacob Wood
Lurch (whose first name is unknown) is a fictional character created by American cartoonist Charles Addams as a manservant to The Addams Family. In the original television series, Lurch was played by Ted Cassidy, who used the famous catchphrase, "You rang?" (a similar phrase was the trademark of the character Maynard G. Krebs in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis).
In Charles Addams's original cartoons, Lurch is often seen accompanying the rest of the Family, sometimes carrying a feather-duster. In a couple of illustrations, the Family is seen decorating Lurch like they would a Christmas tree.
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Lurch is a 6 ft 9 in (2.05 m) tall, shambling, gloomy butler who somewhat resembles a cross between Frankenstein's monster (as played by Boris Karloff) and a zombie. In the original Addams Family television series, Lurch has a deep and resonant voice unlike that of Herman Munster, a character on the show's main competitor, The Munsters. Although fully capable of normal speech, Lurch often communicates via simple inarticulate moans, which, much like the dialogue of Cousin Itt, his employers have no trouble understanding.
This towering mute has been shambling around the house forever...He is not a very good butler but a faithful one...One eye is opaque, the scanty hair is damply clinging to his narrow flat head...generally the family regards him as something of a joke.
Like any butler, Lurch tries to help around the house, but occasionally his great size and strength cause trouble. He clearly takes pride in his work and is willing to do even the most arduous task.
His character often demonstrates signs of frustration towards his employers; however, his continued presence also suggests loyalty. As a result, he appears to be one of the family.
The family summons him with an ever-present bell pull (in the form of a hangman's noose). When pulled, it produces a loud gong noise that shakes the house, to which Lurch instantly appears and responds, "You rang?", even if wide-angle shots reveal that he was clearly nowhere in the vicinity before; on a few occasions Lurch arrives even before the bell pull is tugged.
Lurch largely shares the family's macabre standards, although he occasionally looks askance at some of their activities. He has a similar attitude toward visitors – almost a sixth sense. When a plainclothes policeman (played by George N. Neise) visits, Lurch pats him down and removes something from inside his suit coat: his service revolver. Lurch groans at the affront of bringing a weapon into the house. Neise, however, shows Lurch his badge, whereupon Lurch hands his gun back to him.
Aside from a headless Marie Antoinette doll, Lurch is Wednesday's best friend. He has a paternal affection for both Wednesday and Pugsley. Although his job title is limited to "butler", he seems to be a "jack of all trades" when it comes to the children, doing everything from taking them to school to making them lunch to keeping an eye on them around the house. He is close friends with the disembodied hand Thing.
As originally conceived, Lurch was to have no lines, but in the show's pilot episode, Ted Cassidy ad-libbed the line "You rang?" in his trademark deep voice, and it was so impressive that it led to Lurch getting more dialogue; he ultimately had three lines in the pilot. In the films, however, this butler was totally mute except for the occasional expressive grunt. The 1990s revival returned to the original 1960s 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 Latin Spanish-speaking countries, he is known as Largo, because of his height. In Brazil, he is known as Tropeço ("stumbling block"; also "I stumble, trip over").
Much of Lurch's history, including his first name and the nature of his relationship to any other Addamses, was originally unspecified. "Lurch" was revealed during the original TV series to be a surname, as there was a "Mother Lurch" who appeared in one episode. She addressed Lurch as "Sonny", which could either be a parental nickname or his actual first name. As for his father, he was mentioned twice, once in the second animated series, and in an apparent reference to his Frankenstein's monster-like appearance, Lurch said, smiling, "He put me together." And another time in the original series where Lurch mentions his father wanted him to be a jockey (typically short and light people) instead of a butler.
It was stated in Addams Family Reunion that Lurch is part Addams. This plays into his being a creation similar to Frankenstein's monster. The only definite body part that is from an Addams is his heart. Lurch's mother appears to be a physically normal, elderly woman, although she does not see anything unusual about the Addams family or their home, with the exception of Thing.
In The New Addams Family, a woman comments to Morticia about Lurch, "Where did you dig him up?", to which Morticia responds, "Funny, I can't remember which cemetery it was." Lurch is also referenced as having "two left feet".
On October 30, 1965, a song and dance based on Lurch, entitled "The Lurch", were introduced on the ABC music program Shindig!. This mirrored an earlier episode of the television series, entitled "Lurch, the Teenage Idol" (which was remade in 1999 for The New Addams Family). In it, Lurch records a song on his harpsichord and becomes a pop sensation.