Jackie Coogan as Uncle Fester
|Created by||Charles Addams|
|Portrayed by||Jackie Coogan, Christopher Lloyd, Patrick Thomas, Michael Roberds, Kevin Chamberlin, Brad Oscar, Russell Dykstra|
|Voiced by||Rip Taylor (1992 animated series)|
Nick Kroll (2019 film)
|Family||Morticia (originally niece, sister-in-law in recent movies)|
Gomez (originally nephew-in-law, younger brother in recent movies)
Pubert Addams (nephew)
Grandmama (originally sister-in-law, only Morticia's mother in movies)
|Spouse||Debbie Jellinsky (deceased)|
Uncle Fester is a member of the fictional Addams Family. He was played by Jackie Coogan in the original television series, by Christopher Lloyd in the two feature films, by Nick Kroll in the 2019 animated feature, by Patrick Thomas in the direct-for-video film Addams Family Reunion, and by Michael Roberds in The New Addams Family. In the Broadway musical, the part was originated by Kevin Chamberlin, with Brad Oscar taking over on March 8, 2011.
Uncle Fester is a completely hairless, hunched, and barrel-shaped man with dark, sunken eyes and often a deranged smile. He always wears a heavy, full-length fur coat. Fester was derived from a character drawn by cartoonist Charles Addams, although these were single-page cartoons, with no stories or character names. Nevertheless, the character is recognizable in a number of cartoons, both by his appearance (bald, stooping, sunken eyes) and behavior (e.g. turning the shower to a special "scalding" setting, feeding his garden plants blood plasma, and releasing an eagle on the neighbor's homing pigeons). While he is occasionally seen with the rest of the family, particularly on anthology covers, he is also seen on his own more often than the others. He is sometimes indicated to live in a small shack surrounded by a wrought-iron fence.
Fester has a strange ability to generate electricity. He would often demonstrate this by putting a light bulb in his mouth, which would illuminate, accompanied by a loud, crackling noise. He claims to possess 110 volts of power in one episode of the sitcom, while in another episode he demonstrated his "magnetic" quality by levitating a metal paperweight up to his hand. When struck directly on the head by a fired cannonball, he appears only mildly dazed, while the cannonball bounces off his head.
Uncle Fester at times has severe migraines but appears to enjoy them. Fester relieves his migraines by placing his head in a large screw press and tightening it to levels that normal people would not be able to withstand. At times, Fester uses the screw press on his head simply for enjoyment.
Despite Uncle Fester's menacing look and bizarre behavior, he is gentle and caring to everyone. He shows great respect to Gomez and Morticia. He has always exhibited love and great care to his niece and nephews, despite their frequent naughtiness.
In the original sitcom of the 1960s, Fester is said to be Morticia's maternal uncle (his name rhymes with Morticia's mother Hester's), but from the 1970s onward, he is Gomez's brother. In all adaptations, he is either uncle or great-uncle to Wednesday and Pugsley. He is known as "Tío Fétido" in Spain, "Tío Lucas" in Spanish-speaking countries and "Fétide" in France. In Brazil, he has three names: "Tio Chico" (original series and cartoon), "Tio Funéreo" (movies) and "Tio Fester" (Broadway Musical).
Live action TV series
In the 1960s television series, Fester (played by Jackie Coogan) is uncle to Morticia Addams. In one episode, he became perplexed when asked his last name, suggesting he has somehow forgotten it. In several episodes, Fester refers to the Addams lineage as if it were his own, possibly implying some degree of intertwined consanguinity in both their family lines, but the flashbacks in the episodes "Morticia's Romance, Parts 1 and 2," clearly establish him as Morticia's uncle, brother of her mother, Hester Frump, a.k.a. Granny Frump (Margaret Hamilton), whose maiden name was similarly unrevealed. (Thus, Morticia's mother and uncle have rhyming names, Hester and Fester.) In various episodes, he was a partner in typical sitcom schemes with Gomez, Morticia, or Grandmama Addams, indicating no real preference for any family member over others.
Fester's known ancestry dates back to his Great-Grandfather Blob (not to be confused with Gomez's Cousin Blob, a two-headed ghost), who received the gift of a sacred ruby after he had pried it from the head of a Hindu (to whom it was giving a terrible headache). The ruby remained in the family until Fester unthinkingly used his slingshot to hurl it at a yowling stray cat. "Well, it was the only rock in the house!" he said in his defense.
Per the 1960s sitcom, little is known of Fester's childhood, save that his father (Morticia's maternal grandfather) was an excruciatingly strict man who severely disciplined him, paddling him even when he was good and paying him to stay out of public (Fester considered this to be experienced in "public relations"). He refused to allow Fester to even touch a battleaxe (a treasured toy among people with the Addams's macabre tastes) until he was eight. As an adult, Fester defended his father's strictness, pointing to his own character as proof of its effectiveness: "I didn't become what I am by accident! I had an upbringing like no other!" Sometime prior to Morticia's marriage to Gomez, Fester worked as a newspaper columnist, writing advice for the lovelorn, but left that job because people kept suing him.
Fester has also offered contradictory information about his educational background. In the sitcom's first episode, he notes that he never went to school ("And look how [well] I turned out!"), but he later claims to have failed recess three times. As an adult, Fester took correspondence courses in various subjects, and his educational endeavors occasionally formed an episode's main plot. It may be from one such course that he obtained his fraternity paddle, which he once threatened to use on Wednesday in imitation of his father's punishment style; however, like many an uncle, Fester proved to have more bark than bite in dealing with the children. When he suspects someone of maligning, cheating or otherwise mistreating anyone in the family, Fester is ever ready with his blunderbuss "Genevieve", eager to "shoot 'em in the back!" However, he is far less eager in meeting a malefactor in a face-to-face duel; he was briefly enthusiastic about a pistol duel with an enemy until he asked, somewhat timidly, "Does he get one too?...Loaded?"
Another prized possession was his cannon, "Old Reliable", which he normally kept in his bedroom. Fester maintained a treehouse in the Addams yard and frequently retreated to his closet to think. After receiving the gift of a motorcycle in the episode "The Addams Family Meets a Beatnik", Fester often drove it through the living room, inevitably crashing in the conservatory (several episodes used identical recycled footage of this scenario). Fester also collects three-dollar bills.
The 1998 live-action series continues the tradition of having Fester (played by Canadian actor Michael Roberds) as Gomez's biological brother, yet between this version and the 1960s series, this is the only visible difference. In furtherance on the original series running gag of Uncle Fester being able to store electricity, one episode has Uncle Fester nearly kidnapped by aliens so as to be used to power their spaceship; the Aliens leave Uncle Fester behind-but only after "cloning" him for their spaceship journey home.
Animated TV series
In the first animated series by Hanna-Barbera, Jackie Coogan reprised his role as Fester. He also voiced that same character on an episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies. In the second animated series by Hanna-Barbera, Fester was voiced by Rip Taylor (as Coogan had died in 1984). In this series, Fester is perhaps the most loving of self-inflicted injury. He would allow other members (usually Lurch) to harm him any way they can, but his greatest fondness was blowing himself up. As a running gag, Fester would never believe Grandmama's predictions until she predicts something that causes him great harm (or in his case, great joy). Fester also is very fond of the Addamses' next-door neighbor, Norman Normanmayer, a boring person controlling an underwear empire, who hates Fester (and the whole Addams family) for his strangeness (on an occasion, Fester comes on a visit through the sewer pipes). Fester seems quite oblivious of the fact that Norman hates him and, possibly due to the Addams family nature, thinks that all the angry and aggressive outbreaks are a sign of affection.
This Fester also introduces himself, through his self-made comic books, as "Festerman", a gothic hero with a weakness to chimneys, who gives his flying cape to enemies upon request—so as to fall and would bring villains to their knees...simply by enjoying all the harm they would give him to the point of wearing them out. During this series, he is given a musical-type episode about the "Fester Way", his own, strange way of life.
In the movie, The Addams Family, Fester (played by Christopher Lloyd) is the long-lost brother of Gomez Addams. He was believed to have been lost in the Bermuda Triangle for twenty-five years. A loan shark named Abigail Craven (Elizabeth Wilson) conspires to steal the Addams' fortune using her son, Gordon, who displays an eerie resemblance to the missing Fester. On the night that the Addams' hold a séance to contact Fester's spirit, Gordon shows up at their door, posing as Fester. Although he is baffled and horrified by the Addams' at first, Gordon begins to take a liking to the family and their strange ways. In the end, he disobeys his mother and helps Gomez and his family get their house back. It is later discovered that Gordon is actually Fester, found by Abigail; his accident has caused him to suffer from amnesia, which is eventually cured by a lightning strike to his head. As revealed in the movie's ending scene, it is also subsequent to said abnormal electric shock that Fester acquires his ability to conduct electricity. In Gomez's home movies from their childhood, Fester is shown to be hairless as a child (although in a rather peculiar detail, as Gordon Craven, he is seen shaving his head). Fester also appears in the film's sequel (again played by Lloyd), Addams Family Values. This film centers around Fester's marriage to Debbie Jellinsky (Joan Cusack), the recently hired nanny who wishes to murder Fester and inherit his share of the Addams fortune.
Fester again appears in the direct-to-video film Addams Family Reunion, here played by Patrick Thomas. He is portrayed as a mad scientist reminiscent of old Grade-B horror films. He creates a dog named "Butcher" as a birthday present for Pugsley—a dog that mutates into a hair-devouring brute whenever someone says "good boy." In the end, Butcher attacks Cousin Itt—who is, understandably, quite nervous around him.
Fester is voiced by Nick Kroll in 2019 computer-animated adaptation of The Addams Family.
In the musical, Uncle Fester was played by Kevin Chamberlin in the original broadway cast. Chamberlain received a Tony nomination for the role. He was later played by Brad Oscar, Blake Hammond, Russell Dykstra and Shaun Rice. This incarnation of Fester serves as the musical's narrator and is in love with the moon. The subject of love is apparently his "specialty", and he is able to play the ukulele when he sings a love song to the moon. He also seems to communicate with the ancestors throughout the show more than the other characters.
Uncle Fester has appeared in several Addams Family video games as a playable character. He is the protagonist of Fester's Quest, a NES game, and the main playable character in the Addams Family Values SNES game. He is also the main character in "Electrifying" arcade machine, where simulated "electrical shocks" are passed through the player as they hold on to 2 handles.