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The Addams Family are a close-knit extended family with decidedly macabre interests and supernatural abilities, though no explanation for their powers is explicitly given in the series. The wealthy, endlessly enthusiastic Gomez Addams (John Astin) is madly in love with his refined wife, Morticia (Carolyn Jones). Along with their daughter Wednesday (Lisa Loring), their son Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax), Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan), and Grandmama (Blossom Rock), they reside at 0001 Cemetery Lane in an ornate, gloomy, Second Empire-style mansion, attended by their servants: Lurch (Ted Cassidy), the towering butler, and Thing (also Cassidy), a
disembodied hand that appears from within a small wooden box. Other relatives who made recurring appearances included Cousin Itt (Felix Silla), Morticia's older sister Ophelia (also portrayed by Jones), and Morticia's mother Grandma Frump (Margaret Hamilton). Many guest stars that were mainly famous during the era came in the show playing a cameo part as the script permitted (example, a truant officer, insurance man etc.)
Much of the humor derives from the Addamses' culture clash with the rest of the world. They invariably treat normal visitors with great warmth and courtesy, unaware that some of their guests often have bad intentions. They are puzzled by the horrified reactions to their own good-natured and normal behavior, since the family is under the impression that their tastes are shared by most of society. Accordingly, they view "conventional" tastes with generally tolerant suspicion. Invariably, as a result of their visit to the Addamses, a visitor would be institutionalized, change professions, move out of the country or suffer some other negative life-changing event.
The main cast (clockwise from rear left): Gomez (John Astin), Lurch (Ted Cassidy), Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax), Morticia (Carolyn Jones), and Wednesday (Lisa Loring).
Morticia Addams née Frump (portrayed by Carolyn Jones) - A cultivated and beautiful woman who knits, dabbles in art, plays the shamisen, raises carnivorous plants and trims roses by clipping off the buds and arranging the thorny stems in a vase. With long, straight ebony-black hair, she is always attired in a long, floor-length tight black dress, and with her aristocratic bearing and detachment, she is often the calm center of the chaotic events of the household.
Gomez Addams (portrayed by John Astin) - A retired lawyer of Castilian descent, who is passionately in love with his wife, often referring to her in Spanish pet names such as "Querida" and "Cara Mía". His ardor is greatly intensified when she speaks French. Gomez is very wealthy as a result of owning numerous companies and stocks, and squanders money in a cavalier manner while remaining wealthy, while his hobby consists of gleefully detonating model trains. He refers to Spain as his "ancestral home". Regularly dressed in a double-breasted and chalk pinstriped suit with a black tie, Gomez is almost always seen smoking a cigar. Astin added this trait to the character as he had already been a cigar smoker prior to the show's debut, but then quit after the series ended.
Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan) and Lurch (Ted Cassidy)
Uncle Fester (portrayed by Jackie Coogan) - Morticia's exuberant uncle who is completely bald and dressed in a floor-length fur-collared coat. Fester is quite fond of dynamite and blasting caps. He often relaxes on a bed of nails, by inserting his head into a book press or by being stretched on a wooden torture rack, while he powers light bulbs by placing them into his mouth.
Lurch (portrayed by Ted Cassidy) - The Addams' loyal butler, who mainly speaks in grunts or groans. Morticia and Gomez summon him with a hangman's-noose bell pull, to which he immediately appears on screen and replies, "You rang?" He is physically imposing and plays the harpsichord that was originally in Cousin Crimp's family for 400 years. Cassidy made a cameo appearance as Lurch on an episode of the Batman TV series, and on TV music shows while promoting the pop song of the era "The Lurch" (and the dance which it accompanied).
Wednesday Addams (portrayed by Lisa Loring) - Gomez's and Morticia's daughter and the youngest member of the family, Wednesday is a strange yet sweet-natured little girl who enjoys keeping bizarre pets such as a black widow spider named Homer and a lizard named Lucifer, in addition to playing with a beheaded doll named Marie Antoinette.
Pugsley Addams (portrayed by Ken Weatherwax) - Gomez's and Morticia's son and Wednesday's older brother. Kind-hearted and smart, he occasionally conforms to conventional standards contrary to his family, such as joining the Boy Scouts. He also enjoys engineering various machines, playing with blasting caps, and playing with his pet octopus Aristotle.
Thing - A disembodied hand that appears out of boxes and other conveniently placed containers. Gomez's constant "companion" since childhood, Thing is always ready to assist family members with minor daily services and diversions, such as lifting the receiver on telephones, retrieving the mail, lighting cigars, pouring tea and playing chess. Thing apparently has the ability to teleport from container to container, almost instantly: Thing sometimes appears from different containers at opposite ends of the room within seconds of each other. Though Ted Cassidy would often portray Thing, assistant director Jack Voglin would sometimes portray Thing in scenes where Lurch and Thing appear together. However, Thing was regularly billed as "Itself" in the closing credits.
Addams Family relatives
While the following relatives have made appearances on the show, there have been references to other relatives in each of the episodes:
Cousin Itt (portrayed by Felix Silla, voiced by an uncredited Tony Magro) - Gomez's cousin, Itt is a diminutive character composed entirely of floor-length hair accompanied by a bowler hat and sunglasses. He speaks in rapid, unintelligible gibberish that only the family can understand. The character was created specifically for the television series.
Ophelia Frump (portrayed by Carolyn Jones) - Morticia's flighty flower-child older sister who is the "white sheep of the family". In the two-part, second-season episode "Morticia's Romance", Gomez is originally engaged to Ophelia in an arranged marriage, but when he sees the then-22-year-old Morticia (dressed in a grown-up version of Wednesday's clothing), they fall in love with each other. The flowers entwined in Ophelia's hair actually have roots that travel down into her foot, and the foot raises when one of the flowers are tugged on. She sings in three-part harmony and has a love of judo that enables her to flip men (usually Gomez) onto their backs. Ophelia was played by Carolyn Jones in a blonde wig, and, along with Cousin Itt, was created specifically for the television series, appearing in family portrait artwork by Charles Addams after the show's debut.
Hester Frump (portrayed by Margaret Hamilton) - The mother of Morticia and Ophelia. She is a witch and an old friend of Grandmama Addams.
Arthur J. Henson (portrayed by Parley Baer) - An insurance executive in the town where the family resides.
Joe Digby (portrayed by Eddie Quillan) - An insurance clerk who works for Arthur Henson.
Sam L. Hilliard (portrayed by Allyn Joslyn) - A truant officer who is scared to death of the family. In one episode, his middle name is given as "Lucifer", much to the family's delight ("Sam Hill" is an older American euphemism for Satan).
Mr. Briggs (portrayed by Rolfe Sedan) - The neighborhood mailman who delivers the mail to the Addams house.
Sam Picasso (portrayed by Vito Scotti) - A scheming Spanish artist upon whom family members rely for artistic advice.
Series creator David Levy explained the premise of the show to syndicated columnist Erskine Johnson in August 1964: "We have made [the family] full-bodied people, not monsters ... They are not grotesque and hideous manifestations. At the same time we are protecting the images of [Charles] Addams' 'children', as he refers to them. We are living up to the spirit of his cartoons. He is more than just a cartoonist. He's a social commentator and a great wit." The tone was set by series producer Nat Perrin, who was a close friend of Groucho Marx and writer of several Marx Brothers films. Perrin created story ideas, directed one episode and rewrote every script. The series often employed the same type of zany satire and screwball humor seen in the Marx Brothers films. It lampooned politics ("Gomez, The Politician" and "Gomez, The People's Choice"), the legal system ("The Addams Family in Court"), rock n' roll and Beatlemania ("Lurch, The Teenage Idol") and Hollywood ("My Fair Cousin Itt").
The show's memorable theme, written and arranged by longtime Hollywood composer Vic Mizzy, was dominated by a harpsichord with finger snaps as percussive accompaniment. Ted Cassidy punctuated the lyrics with the words "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 U.S. charts. The song was revived for the 1992 animated series, as well as in 2007 for a series of Addams Family television commercials for M&M's chocolates.
For both seasons, episodes aired Friday nights at 8:30 p.m.
The show has been aired worldwide. In the United Kingdom, it first aired on ITV in 1965-1966, and then it appeared on Sky 1 in 1991 and ran until 1992. It was then aired on BBC Two from 6 p.m. on Monday nights starting in February 1992 until the end of 1993 and then moved to Saturdays in 1994 and later in school summer holidays before it vanished at the end of August 1996.
In October 2011, the series was picked up by Cartoon Network's sister channel Boomerang and ran through the entire month of October that year for Halloween alongside The Munsters. It vanished from Boomerang after Halloween 2013.
The series airs on select local stations, and as of November 2013 airs weekends on the national movie/classic TV network Antenna TV
Reunions, sequels and adaptations
A reunion TV film, Halloween with the New Addams Family, aired on NBC in October 1977 and starred most of the original cast, except for Blossom Rock, who was very ill at the time and was replaced as Grandmama by Phyllis actress Jane Rose. Elvia Allman portrayed Mother Frump, whom Margaret Hamilton had played in the original series. Veteran character actors Parley Baer and Vito Scotti, who both had recurring roles in the original series, also appeared in the movie. The film also included extended family members created specifically for this production, such as Gomez's brother Pancho (played by Henry Darrow) and two additional children, Wednesday Jr. and Pugsley Jr. The latter two were portrayed as near copies of the original children, now known as Wednesday Sr. and Pugsley Sr., who were once again played respectively by Lisa Loring and Ken Weatherwax, the original Wednesday and Pugsley in the series. Vic Mizzy rewrote and conducted the series theme as an instrumental.
Astin reprised his role as Gomez Addams for the 1992 animated adaptation of the series. Weatherwax and Loring, the only other original cast members still living at the time, did not participate.
Audio commentary for "The Addams Family Goes to School" by cast members Lisa Loring, Ken Weatherwax and Felix Silla, along with Stephen Cox (author of The Addams Chronicles)
You Rang, Mr. Addams featurette
Snap, Snap featurette
Theme Song Karaoke
The DVD releases contain alterations to the episodes "Halloween with the Addams Family" and "The Addams Family Meets the Undercover Man". In two scenes, Morticia's song "It's So Nice to Have a 'Thing' Around the House" (to the tune of "It's So Nice to Have a Man Around the House") was cut. The edits were made because MGM/20th Century Fox could not obtain the rights to the original song.
March 27, 2007
Mad About the Addams featurette: Experts discuss the history and impact of the show
Thing and Cousin Itt commentaries
Guest Star Séance interactive featurette: A magical crystal ball conjures guest star clips and trivia
Tombstone Trivia on "Morticia's Romance, Part 1" episode
Audio commentary with The Addams Chronicles author Stephen Cox
As of April 2019, the series can be purchased on iTunes, and can be streamed in the United States via Amazon Video (the season 2 episode "Gomez, the People's Choice" is excluded, presumably due to licensing rights) and IMDb. The minisodes are available on Crackle and Vudu.
As of October 1, 2019, Addams Family episodes are being aired on their own channel (310) on Pluto TV.
A soundtrack album was released in 1965 containing all of Vic Mizzy's compositions for the series entitled Original Music From The Addams Family.