The Addams Family

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The Addams Family

(pop culture)

Originating as a cartoon series that first appeared in the New Yorker magazine, The Addams Family became one of the more notable sets of comic characters in American popular culture. The cartoons were originally the product of Charles S. Addams (1912–1988), whose work had become a regular feature of the New Yorker in the 1930s. His work was anthologized in a series of books beginning with Drawn and Quartered in 1942. The Addams Family was but one aspect of Addams’s world which included a wide variety of the bizarre and monstrous that he tended to portray in everyday settings.

The Addams Family cartoons were transformed into a situation comedy television series for the fall 1964 season. Since Addams had never assigned names to the members of the cartoon family, they had to be created. Carolyn Jones was selected to play Morticia Addams, the family matriarch with the long black hair and a revealing, skin-tight black dress. She continued the image of the vamp made popular earlier in the century and utilized by horror film hostesses Vampira and Elvira. John Astin portrayed her husband, Gomez, a lawyer. Their children were named Pugsley and Wednesday (Ken Weatherwax and Lisa Loring). Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan), Grandmama (Blossom Rock), and the butler, Lurch (Ted Cassidy) rounded out the home’s residents. The dynamics of the show, true to Charles Addams’s world, rested on the family’s turning the bizarre into the norm, and then interacting with the members of normal society.

The Addams Family first aired on ABC on September 18, 1964, and lasted for two seasons. It went up against a similar series on CBS, The Munsters, which also began in 1964 and ran for two years. The Addams Family was revived in 1973 as an animated children’s show produced by the Hanna-Barbera Studios and aired on Saturday mornings. Hanna-Barbera also produced a comic book version of The Addams Family, which first appeared in October 1974, but only three issues were published before the series folded. Halloween with the Addams Family (first aired on October 30, 1977), a full-length feature film with the original cast, was another unsuccessful attempt to revive interest in The Addams Family during the 1970s.

Little was heard from the family through the 1980s, but in 1991, Angelica Huston and Raul Julia were selected to star in the full-length movie of The Addams Family, produced by Paramount Pictures. The highly successful movie, in turn, inspired two board games, The Addams Family Reunion Game and The Addams Family Find Uncle Fester Game, an Addams Family pinball game, a home computer game, and two separate juvenile novelizations aimed at different age groups. In 1992, a new The Addams Family cartoon series, also produced by Paramount, starred the voices of Nanci Linari and John Astin as Morticia and Gomez, respectively. At the end of 1993, a sequel to the 1991 movie, Addams Family Values, was released; it again starred Angelica Huston and Raul Julia. DVDs and the Internet have given The Addams Family new life and several Internet based fan clubs continue into the new century.

Sources:

The Addams Family—The Official Poster Book. New York: Starlog Communications International, 1992.
Anchors, William E., Jr. “The Addams Family.” Epi-log 37 (December 1993): 44–51, 64.
Calmenson, Stephanie. The Addams Family. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1991. 72 pp. A novelization of the 1991 movie for children.
Cox, Stephen. The Addams Chronicles: An Altogether Ooky Look at the Addams Family. Nashville, TN: Cumberland House Publishing, 1998.
Faucher, Elizabeth. The Addams Family. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1991. 141 pp. A novelization of the 1991 movie for teens.
Ferrante, Anthony C. “The Campaign for Addams Family Values.” Fangoria 129 (December 1993): 46–52.
Jones, Stephen. The Illustrated Vampire Movie Guide. London: Titan Books, 1993. 144 pp.
The Official Addams Family Magazine. New York: Starlog Communications International, 1991. Van Hise, James. Addams Family Revealed: An Unauthorized Look at America’s Spookiest Family.
Las Vegas, NV: Pioneer Books, 1991. 157 pp.
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