The Addams Family
by Erika Cox
Originally a 1930s cartoon, The Addams Family became a popular sitcom in the mid-1960s and remains an interesting pop culture icon today.
After it’s run as a live-action television show, it became an animated series in the 1970s and again in the early 1990s, a live-action movie on a number of occasions in the 1990s, and a variety of pinball and video games through the 20th century.
The Addams are a close-knit family descending from social outcasts such as witches and vampires. The are morbid and interested in deathly hobbies, but are otherwise extremely wealthy and good people.
Their neighbors rarely understand them, but the family proves to be a fixture in the town. The live at 1 Cemetery Ridge next to a swamp and a cemetery in a large Victorian mansion, which conjures thoughts of a haunted house.
At the head of the family is Gomez Addams. He’s am eccentric millionaire who plays the stock market to lose and enjoys also losing in court, as he is a practicing lawyer. In the 1960s television series, he owns businesses around the world, including a crocodile farm, a tombstone factory, and a uranium mine. He dresses in a pin-striped suit and slicks back his dark hair.
He may be the head of the household, but is extremely childlike, with a very short attention span and a love for toys, especially his model trains, which he enjoys destroying over and over again. In the television series, he is played by actor John Astin, and was later played by a number of men, including Raul Julia, Time Curry, and Glenn Taranto.
Gomez’s wife is Morticia Addams, a pale vampire-like women who drives her husband wild by speaking French and remains calm and collected throughout the entire series. She loves music and is a great opera singer, dancer, and musician, and also enjoys gardening—although she cuts the buds off her roses and saves the thorns, in true Addams family fashion. In the television series, Morticia is played by Carolyn Jones.
The Addams parents are extremely concerned about the well-being of their two children, Wednesday and Pugsley (and later, in the movies, Pubert the baby).
Wednesday is a morbid child who loves her Marie Antoinette headless doll and has an obsession with trying to harm or even kill her brother. She’s quite, intelligent, and morbidly serious.
Pugsley is largely oblivious and enthusiastic about Wednesday’s plans to harm him. She is successful a number of times, but he never dies. He’s a devoted brother and in the original television series is an inventor and chemical genius. Wednesday and Pugsley were played by Lisa Loring and Ken Weatherwax.
Of course, the family would not be complete with Uncle Fester, played by Jack Coogen, recognizable by his completely bald head and odd behavior, like conducting electricity. He was originally Morticia’s uncle on her mother’s side, but in later remakes of the show was known as Gomez’s brother.
Another staple to the Addams household is Grandmama, who served as Gomez’s mother in the 1960s series, but later became Morticia’s mother. She’s known for her fizzy hair and her witch-like activities, although she asserts that she is not a witch.
Cousin Itt, the hair-covered addition to the family; Thing, a servant hand without a body; and Lurch, a Frankenstein-like butler are all other characters commonly on the show. All of the family members on the Addams Family display inhuman traits.
Mortician can produce smoke from her fingers, for example, and Wednesday is strong enough to trump her father, who is an amazing athlete and skilled in all kinds of fighting methods.
They consider none of these traits unusual and believe that all families in the world share similar interested. They consider things like flower gardens, the Boy Scouts, and wholesome activities as appalling and regularly enjoy activities like being stretched on a rack and hanging upside down from the ceiling.
However, the family is not evil or dangerous, simply misunderstood, especially by their neighbors, the Normanmeyers, who appear in the animated 1970s series. The show commonly asks viewers, “What is normal?”
Because of its success in the 1960s, The Addams Family was brought back to life for a number of movies and shows, and characters such as Lurch, Thing, and Uncle Fester are still well known today and commonly used in spoofs and remakes of the show.
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