The Addams Family

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They're creepy and they're kooky, Mysterious and spooky, They're all together ooky, The Addams Family. ...

The Addams Family

The sixties were somewhat of a golden age for American Comedy.  Shows like Bewitched, The Monkees, I Dream of Jeannie and The Munsters were all created during this decade.  They have all barely been off our screens since then, a testament to their longevity.  In an “Anything is Possible” decade, these were shows that lived the reality.

The Addams Family was another of these type of shows.  It had a slightly different origin though as it was based on the cartoons drawn by Charles Addams.  Charles Addams had been a published cartoonist since 1932 (His first drawing appeared in the New Yorker on February 6 of that year.)   The Addams Family were first conceived “around 1937” so it took them approximately thirty years to make the transition to the small screen.

 

One night David Levy, a former NBC executive, stopped to look at a book display in a shop window.  A book by Charles Addams caught his eye and he went into the shop to investigate.  While thumbing through a copy of “Homebodies”, he realised that the characters inside might be great for television.  

The Addams Family had not been given names at this point, but after Levy and Addams met to discuss the TV idea; Addams came up with the now familiar names: Gomez, Morticia, Lurch, Pugsley, Uncle Fester etc.   After that, Addams himself had very little input into the development of the show, even though he had the right to veto casting decisions and make any alterations he deemed necessary.

John Astin (Gomez) was on board almost immediately.  He had just come from a cancelled sitcom called I’m Dickens… He’s Fenster, and was actively looking for work to feed his family and pay the bills.  He was originally going to be cast as Lurch the butler, with the whole series revolving around the butler, however Levy decided eventually that Astin was better suited as Gomez and decided to change the focus of the series as well.

Carolyn Jones was not the first choice to play Morticia.  An actress called Joan Huntingdon was originally chosen, but the studio ABC put pressure on Levy to have a star name connected with the show and so Carolyn Jones was chosen.  (Interesting fact: Carolyn Jones was Aaron Spelling’s wife)

Jackie Coogan got the role of Uncle Fester, Ken Weatherwax the role of Pugsley and Lisa Loring the role of Wednesday.  At the time of her audition Lisa was so young that she had not yet learned to read, and she had to learn her lines by having them read to her so that she could repeat them back.

 By March 1964, a 15 minute pilot had been completed and shown at a National Association of Broadcasters convention . The screening was a huge success and the series was quickly snapped up by ABC.   With a series now approved, the Addams Family were relocated to General Service Studios in Hollywood and their set was built on Stage 8.  The Addams family’s address was appropriately enough 0001 Cemetery Lane.

Writer Nat Perrin was employed as the show’s producer. With his writing background he often tinkered with the scripts and polished the dialogue to ensure that the characters’ remained true to form. In total the series employed 20 writers and story contributors but most did not last beyond one season.  The show was had an even higher turn over of directors, as nearly every episode featured a different director.  

The schedule was gruelling.  At least one episode was completed every week and sometimes two.  The show was a success but was never a huge hit.  After just two seasons ABC cancelled it in 1966.   The people involved with the show were stunned and upset, but the decision was final.  

It is hard to believe that the Addams Family had so few episodes as it has been repeated so many times that it is easy to think that many more episodes were created.  Its popularity has remained steady since the cancellation of the TV series and since that time, two feature films and a cartoon series have been made.

 

 Karon Hollis

 

 

 

 

 


Page Last Updated Sunday, February 13, 2005 at 12:31:53