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The Addams Family is a group of fictional characters created by American cartoonist Charles Addams. Addams Family characters include Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Grandmama, Wednesday and Pugsley.
The Addamses are a satirical inversion of the ideal American family; an eccentric, wealthy clan who delight in the macabre and are unaware that people find them bizarre or frightening. They originally appeared as a series of single panel cartoons, published in The New Yorker between 1938 and Addams's 1988 death. They have since been adapted to other media, including television series (both live action and animated), films, video games, and a musical.
Premise and Background
Addams's original cartoons were one-panel gags. The characters were undeveloped and unnamed until later versions.
|“||Gomez and Pugsley are enthusiastic. Morticia is even in disposition, muted, witty, sometimes deadly. Grandma Frump is foolishly good-natured. Wednesday is her mother's daughter. A closely knit family, the real head being Morticia—although each of the others is a definite character — except for Grandma, who is easily led. Many of the troubles they have as a family are due to Grandma’s fumbling, weak character. The house is a wreck, of course, but this is a house-proud family just the same and every trap door is in good repair. Money is no problem.||”|
The family appears to be a single surviving branch of the Addams clan. Many other "Addams families" exist all over the world. According to the film version, the family credo is, Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc (pseudo-Latin: "We gladly feast on those who would subdue us"). Charles Addams was first inspired by his home town of Westfield, New Jersey, an area full of ornate Victorian mansions and archaic graveyards.
They live in a gloomy mansion adjacent to a cemetery and a swamp at 0001 Cemetery Lane. In The New Addams Family, the address was changed to 1313 Cemetery Lane. In the Addams Family musical, first shown in Chicago in 2009, the house is located in Central Park.
Although they share macabre interests, the Addamses are not evil. They are a close-knit extended family. Morticia is an exemplary mother, and she and Gomez remain passionate towards each other. She calls him "Bubele", to which he responds by kissing her arms, behavior Morticia can also provoke by speaking a few words in French (the meaning is not important, any French will do). The parents are supportive of their children. The family is friendly and hospitable to visitors, in some cases willing to donate large sums of money to causes, despite the visitors' horror at the Addams's peculiar lifestyle.
Addams Family Characters
- Main article: Characters
- Main article: Gomez Addams
Gomez Addams was the master of the Addams household and the Addams patriarch, married to Morticia and the father of Wednesday and Pugsley. In the 60's sitcom, he was Grandmama's son, but this was retconned in the 1991 film, and he became Grandmama's son-in-law instead, staying true to the comics. Also retconned in the films, he became the younger brother of Fester instead of his nephew-in-law. In the original cartoons in the New Yorker, he appeared tubby, snub-nosed and with a receding chin.
In the 1960s television series, Gomez was portrayed as a naive, handsome, and successful man, although with a childlike, eccentric enthusiasm for everything he did. For instance, his personal portrait depicted him as standing gleefully on his head. Though a peaceful man, he was known to be well-versed in many types of combat; he and Morticia fenced with foils sometimes.
Gomez professed endless love for his wife, Morticia. He had studied to be a lawyer, but rarely practiced, one of the running jokes being that he took great pride in losing his cases. He was also pleased with the fact that his law class had voted him the man "Least Likely to Pass the Bar".
Gomez was depicted as extremely wealthy, through inheritance and extensive investments, but he seemed to have little regard for money. Although he invested in the stock market, to the point where there was a ticker tape machine in the living room, he played the market primarily to lose, or else invested in odd schemes that inadvertently paid off big (swamp land found to have oil under it, etc.). One novel claimed Gomez became wealthy through his ghoulish sense of humor, when he discovered it was possible to make a killing in the stock market. Despite his macabre sense of humor, he was extremely generous, and would go out of his way to help those whom he considered friends.
Gomez is of Castilian origin, loved to smoke cigars, and would play destructively with his model trains. Of the names which Charles Addams suggested for the family, "Gomez" was the only one that was not "ghoulish" (in the manner of Morticia or Fester). When asked why he suggested the name Gomez for the character, Addams replied that he "thought he [the character] had a bit of Spanish blood in him." However, Addams had trouble deciding whether the character should be Spanish or Italian. He decided that if he were Spanish he should be called "Gomez", but if Italian he would be "Repelli" (even though Gomez and Repelli are actually surnames). The final choice of first name was left up to actor John Astin. Gomez was typically seen wearing conservative businesswear long out of fashion, such as pinstripe suits and spats.
- Main article: Morticia Addams
Morticia Addams (née Frump) was the matriarch of the Addams Family, a slim woman with pale skin, clad in a skin-tight black hobble gown with octopuslike tendrils at the hem. Certain sources suggested she may be some kind of vampire. She adored her husband, Gomez, as deeply as he did her.
Pugsley and Wednesday
Gomez and Morticia had two children, a son called Pugsley and a daughter called Wednesday. Wednesday was said to have been named after the phrase, "Wednesday's child is full of woe," from the poem Monday's Child. Her middle name, Friday, corresponds to the 1887 version of the poem. In the television show she was a sweet-natured, innocent, happy child, largely concerned with her fearsome pet spiders. A favorite toy was her Marie Antoinette doll, which Pugsley had guillotined. The movies gave Wednesday a much more serious and mature personality with a deadpan wit and a morbid fascination with trying to physically harm, or possibly murder, her brother (she was seen strapping him into an electric chair, for example, and preparing to pull the switch); she was apparently often successful, but Pugsley never died. Like most members of the family, he seemed to be inhumanly resilient.
For his part, Pugsley was largely oblivious of the harm his sister tried to inflict on him, or an enthusiastic supporter of it, viewing all attempts as fun and games. In his first incarnation in The New Yorker cartoons, Pugsley was depicted as a diabolical, malevolent boy-next-door. In the television series, he was a devoted older brother and an inventive and mechanical genius. In the movies he lost his intelligence and independence, and became Wednesday's sidekick and younger brother, cheerfully helping her in her evil deeds.
In the animated series, Wednesday became a happy and somewhat optimistic child, while retaining her sophisticated manner from the movies, and Pugsley became a genius at chemistry — especially explosives — and machines, though his intelligence seemed undeveloped at times.
The children appeared to be home-taught, receiving all the education they required from Grandmama or Uncle Fester. An attempt to enroll them in the local elementary school did not work out initially, but in later episodes of the television series, they are depicted as attending it.
In the first movie, the children attended an elementary school and Wednesday was praised for her performance. Both children performed in school plays with their uncle's help. In the second movie, they are on summer vacation from school.
In the stage musical, Wednesday was aged to about 18 years old, while Pugsley was kept as a young child.
- Main article: Uncle Fester
Fester is a bald, barrel-shaped man with dark, sunken eyes and a devilish grin. He seemed to carry an electrical charge, as he could illuminate a light bulb by sticking it in his mouth. In the original television series, Fester was Morticia's uncle. In the 1991 film and all subsequent animated and film media, Fester was Gomez's older brother. The character played a central role in both of the first two feature films. In The Addams Family, Fester was reunited with the other Addamses after 25 years apart, while The Addams Family Values focused on his relationship with Deborah "Debbie" Jellinsky.
Grandmama is Gomez's mother, and is also a witch who deals in potions, spells, hexes, and even fortune-telling. Her trademarks were her shawl and grey, frizzy hair. The 2010 Broadway musical version of The Addams Family poked fun at the inconsistencies of Grandmama's origins. In one scene, Morticia and Gomez both revealed that each believed she is the other's mother. People didn't know about her ghost son, named Eduardo.
Thing T. Thing
- Main article: Thing
Another member of the family is the disembodied hand named "Thing". Thing was Gomez's friend since childhood. He appeared out of ubiquitous boxes or other convenient containers throughout the house. He communicated with the Addamses with a Morse-like alphabet, sign language, writing, and knocking on wood. In the movies and The New Addams Family, Thing was a fully mobile hand, cleanly severed just below the wrist (although no muscle or bone was exposed). He lived in an upstairs closet made up as a house-within-a-house, though he was also shown to reside in a cigar box. In the original television series, Thing was generally played by Ted Cassidy (the actor who also played Lurch). He was usually a right hand, but Cassidy occasionally used his left, "just to see if anyone noticed".
- Main article: Lurch
In addition to Thing, the Addams family also had a tall, ghoulish manservant named Lurch. Lurch served as a shambling, gravelly-voiced butler, vaguely resembling Frankenstein's Monster although he is a considerable "jack of all trades". He tried to help around the house, although occasionally he botched tasks due to his great size and strength, but is otherwise considered quite a catch by the Addamses for his skill at more personal tasks, such as waxing Uncle Fester's head and amusing the children (to whom he was deeply devoted). Surprisingly, he was often seen playing the harpsichord and organ with a great degree of skill and somewhat uncharacteristic enthusiasm. In Addams Family Reunion, Gomez stated that Lurch is not really an Addams, and Morticia replies that Lurch has parts of many families, and that he has the heart of an Addams. In one episode of the 1960s television series, Lurch's mother, played by actress Ellen Corby, came to visit; she was a short, overbearing little old lady. Lurch, too, had a level of invulnerability; in Addams Family Values, a 20-pound cannonball is dropped from the top of the Addams mansion, landing directly on his head, seemingly with no ill effect. In the original comics, Lurch did not speak. In the sitcom, he was capable of speech; beckoned by the pull of a noose-shaped rope which sounded a thunderous gong, he would answer with a signature monotone, brusque and basso profundo, "You rang?" This was due to actor Ted Cassidy ad-libbing the line while rehearsing a scene early in production of the original TV show. The producers liked it so much that Lurch then became a speaking role. In the theatrical movies, Lurch never spoke, using only grunts, sighs, or simple gesticulations. The New Addams Family returned to the original sitcom style, right down to the noose that rang a gong. In it, Lurch also seemed a little more polite than his earlier counterparts.
- Main article: Cousin Itt
Cousin Itt (spelled as "Cousin It" in the movies and the pinball game), who frequently visited the family, was short-statured and had long hair that covered his entire body from scalp to floor. He was known to speak in a high-pitched nonsensical gibberish that only the family seemed to understand. In the second animated series, Itt was a super-spy for the U.S. government. He fell in love with Margaret Alford and married her after her husband, Tully, was disposed of by the Addams children. He and Margaret have a child named "What" (from the obstetrician's reaction).
In the sitcom, references were made to an innumerable collection of bizarre and unconventional creatures such as hawks, bats, and alligators, although there were a handful with some consistency throughout the various media which the characters have subsequently appeared in.
- Kitty Kat is the family lion, and can be seen in several 1960s television episodes roaming around the house. (Though not seen in the 1991 film, Gomez can be heard shouting 'Down, Kitty!' while going to the vault to pay Tully, while a lion's roar can be heard.) The entire family regarded Kitty Kat as they would an average housecat, and seemed flummoxed at the notion that Kitty Kat is in any way dangerous.
- Pugsley had an octopus called Aristotle, and Wednesday a large collection of spiders, with only one she mentions in particular by name, called Homer. The family also had a pair of piranha named Tristan and Isolde, who lived in a fish tank, and a vulture named Zelda. In the first film, as a child Fester had a vulture named Muerto.
- Cleopatra is an African Strangler, a carnivorous plant, belonging to Morticia. The plant eats meatballs made of yak and other tasty meats specially prepared, and (more often than not) spoon-fed to her. In a season 1 episode, "The Addams Family Meets the V.I.P.'s", Gomez stated that Cleopatra is only 3 years old. At another point in the series, however, it's said that Morticia had Cleopatra before she and Gomez married, having grown her from a seedling.
- In the musical, the family had a pet giant squid named Bernice, that, one night, crawled up from the toilet. She lived in the sewers beneath the house, and appeared in the grotto. Only her tentacles were shown.
- Main article: The Addams Family (TV Series)
In 1964, the ABC-TV network created The Addams Family television series based on Addams's cartoon characters. The series was shot in black-and-white and aired for two seasons in 64 half-hour episodes (18 September 1964 – 2 September 1966). During the original television run of the series, The New Yorker editor William Shawn refused to publish any Addams Family cartoons, though he continued to publish other Charles Addams cartoons. Shawn regarded his magazine as targeting a more refined readership, and did not want it associated with characters who could be seen on television by just anybody. After Shawn's 1987 retirement, the characters were welcomed back to The New Yorker.
- Main article: Wednesday Is Missing
The Addams Family's first animated appearance was on the third episode of Hanna-Barbera's The New Scooby-Doo Movies, "Wednesday Is Missing" (a.k.a. "Scooby-Doo Meets the Addams Family"), which first aired on CBS Saturday morning 23 September 1972. Four of the original castreturned for the special which involved the Addamses in a mystery with the Scooby-Doo gang. The Addams Family characters were drawn to the specifications of the original Charles Addams cartoons. After the episode aired, fans wanted more animated adventures featuring the Addamses, and Hanna-Barbera obliged.
- Main article: The Addams Family Fun-House
- Main article: The Addams Family (animated 1973)
The first animated series ran on Saturday mornings from 1973–1975 on NBC. In a departure from the original series, this series took the Addamses on the road in their creepy camper.
- Main article: The Addams Family (animated 1992)
The remake series ran on Saturday mornings from 1992–1993 on ABC after producers realized the success of the 1991 Addams Family movie. This series returned to the familiar format of the original series, with the Addams Family facing their sitcom situations at home. John Astin returned to the role of Gomez. New artistic models of the characters were used for this series, though still having a passing resemblance to the original cartoons. Two seasons were produced, with the third year containing reruns. Oddly in this series, Wednesday maintained her macabre, brooding attitude from the Addams Family movies, but her facial expressions and body language conveyed the happy-go-lucky, fun attitude of her portrayal in the original television show. An altered version of the original Vic Mizzy theme song was used for the opening.
- Main article: The New Addams Family
The New Addams Family was filmed in Vancouver, Canada, and ran for 65 episodes during the 1998–1999 season on the then newly-launched Fox Family Channel. Many storylines from the original series were reworked for this new series, incorporating more modern elements and jokes. John Astin returned to the franchise in some episodes of this series, albeit as "Grandpapa" Addams (Gomez's grandfather). Pubert's absence in the new series (and possibly Addams Family Reunion) may have been explained in an early episode when Wednesday mentioned that "There were three of us, but Pugsley ate the little one."
- Main article: Films
- Main article: Halloween with the New Addams Family
A television reunion movie, Halloween with the New Addams Family, aired on NBC Sunday, October 30, 1977. It featured most of the original cast, except Blossom Rock, who was very ill at the time; she was replaced by Jane Rose.
- Main article: The Addams Family (1991)
In the 1990s, Orion Pictures (which by then had inherited the rights to the series) developed a film version, The Addams Family (recorded 30-31 October 1989 and released 22 November 1991). Due to the studio's financial troubles at the time, Orion sold the US rights to the film to Paramount Pictures.
- Main article: Addams Family Values
Upon the last film's success, a sequel followed: Addams Family Values (released on November 19, 1993, with worldwide distribution by Paramount). Loosened content restrictions allowed the films to use far more grotesque humor that strove to keep the original spirit of the Addams cartoons (in fact, several gags were lifted straight from the single panel cartoons).
- Main article: Addams Family Reunion
Another film, Addams Family Reunion, was released direct-to-video 22 September 1998, this time by Warner Bros. through its video division. It has no relation to the Paramount movies, being in fact a full-length pilot for a second live-action television version, The New Addams Family, produced and shot in Canada. The third movie's Gomez, played by Tim Curry, follows the style of Raúl Juliá, while the new sitcom's Gomez, played by Glenn Taranto, is played in the style of John Astin, who had played the character in the 1960s.
- Main article: The Addams Family (2019)
The first animated Addams Family film was theatrically released 11 October 2019 in the United States by United Artists Releasing and internationally by Universal Pictures. Directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, the film was met with mixed reviews and is set to have a sequel released in October 2021.
Two animated Hanna-Barbera television shows have been inspired by The Addams Family.
- Mr. & Mrs. J. Evil Scientist, a family of fictional characters inspired by The Addams Family appeared on the Snagglepuss and Snooper and Blabber animated television series beginning in 1959 and starred in their own comic book.
- During the first season of the 1960s The Addams Family television show, a Stone Age version of the Addams Family called The Gruesomes moved next door to The Flintstones.
- Main article: Video Games
Five video games released from 1989 to 1994 were based on The Addams Family.
- Fester's Quest (1989) was a top-down shooter that featured Uncle Fester saving the world from an alien invasion.
- In 1992, two versions of The Addams Family were released by Ocean Software based on the 1991 Movie; an 8-Bit version for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Sega Master System, Sega Game Gear, ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64, as well as a 16-Bit version released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Amiga, Atari ST and Sega Mega Drive. ICOM Simulations published The Addams Family video game for the TurboGrafx-CD in 1991.
- The game's sequel, The Addams Family: Pugsley's Scavenger Hunt (1993), also by Ocean Software, was based on the ABC animated series and was released for NES, SNES and Game Boy (although the later two were just 8-bit remakes of the first SNES game, swapping Pugsley and Gomez's roles).
- Addams Family Values (1994) by Ocean was based on the movie's sequel and returned to the style of gameplay seen in Fester's Quest.
- A Game Boy Color game was released in the 1990s for promotion of The New Addams Family. The game was simply titled The New Addams Family Series. In this game, the Addams mansion had been bought by a fictional company called "Funnyday" that wanted to tear down the house and surrounding grounds to make room for an amusement park.
- Main article: The Addams Family (pinball)
A pinball game by Midway (under the Bally Technologies label) was released in 1992 shortly after the movie. It is the best-selling pinball game of all time.
- Main article: Books
There are many books associated with The Addams Family. Many of Charles Addams' original cartoons from The New Yorker were collected into books. Novels have been written about the Family. The television and film productions have been featured in many books and magazines, and spoofed in others.
In 1994, the actors cast as the Addamses in the first two films (sans the recently-deceased Raúl Juliá) were in several Japanese television spots for the Honda Odyssey. The Addamses—most prominently Gomez (for whom a voice actor was used to impersonate Juliá while footage from Addams Family Values was seen) and Morticia—are seen speaking Japanese.
- Main article: The Addams Family (musical)
In May 2007, it was announced that a musical inspired by The Addams Family was being developed for the Broadway stage. Broadway veterans Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice wrote the |book, and Andrew Lippa wrote the score. Julian Crouch and Phelim McDermott (Improbable Theater founders) directed and designed the production, with choreography by Sergio Trujillo. A workshop and private industry presentation was held 4–8 August 2008.
The musical opened in previews at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on Broadway 8 March 2010, with an official opening 8 April, after an out-of-town tryout in Chicago at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts from 13 November 2009 to 10 January 2010.
- Miserocchi, H. Kevin; Charles Addams (2010-03-31). The Addams Family: An Evilution. Pomegranite Books. pp. 224. Template:Hide in printTemplate:Only in print. http://www.pomegranate.com/a180.html.
- Potter Kass, Christy (2010-10-13). "Westfield Native Charles Addams Still Very Much a Part of his Hometown; Addams Family Online Drawing Contest Ends October 20th". TheAlternativePress.com. http://thealternativepress.com/articles/westfield-native-charles-addams-still-very-much-a-part-of-his-hometown-addams-family-online-drawing-contest-ends-october-20th--2. Retrieved 2010-12-15.
- Thing Is Missing (new)
- Jones, Chris (2009-12-10). "'The Addams Family' at Oriental Theatre: In need of more 'Family' time". Chicago Tribune. http://leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com/the_theater_loop/2009/12/the-addams-family-at-oriental-theatre-in-need-of-more-family-time.html. Retrieved 2010-11-16.
- Austro-Bavarian/Yiddish: Lit. "little boy"
- Davis, Linda H. (2006-10-24). Charles Addams: A Cartoonist's Life. Random House. pp. 382. Template:Hide in printTemplate:Only in print.
- "The Addams Family" at Sitcoms Online
- The Addams Family (1991)
- Addams Family Values
- MemorableTV.com. "The Addams Family Fun-House". MemorableTV.com. http://www.memorabletv.com/a/the-addams-family-funhouse.html. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
- Porges, Seth (2008-08-05). "Top 8 Most Innovative Pinball Machines of All Time". Popular Mechanics. http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/toys/4276614. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
- Pollack, Andrew (1994-10-17). "Honda Set to Play Catch-Up in Mini-Van Market". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A03E6DC133CF934A25753C1A962958260. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
- paulafromtwoson (2007-03-25). "Japanese Car Commercials". Addamses: The Addams Family Archive. http://addamses.blogspot.com/2007/03/japanese-car-commercials.html. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
- TV Series Finale (2007-04-30). "The Addams Family: A Spooky Yet Sweet Return". TV Series Finale. http://tvseriesfinale.com/tv-show/the-addams-family-a-spooky-yet-sweet-return/. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
- Jones, Kenneth (2007-05-21). "Go, Go, Go Gomez! Addams Family Musical, by Lippa, Brickman and Elice, In Development". Playbill. http://www.playbill.com/news/article/108236-Go-Go-Go-Gomez-Addams-Family-Musical-by-Lippa-Brickman-and-Elice-In-Development. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
- Jones, Kenneth (2009-12-29). "Zaks Is New Patriarch of Addams Family; Previews Will Now Begin March 8". Playbill. http://www.playbill.com/news/article/135551-Zaks-Is-New-Patriarch-of-Addams-Family-Previews-Will-Now-Begin-March-8. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
- Jones, Kenneth; Gans, Andrew (2008-08-04). "Lane, Neuwirth, Chamberlin, McCarthy and Arden Featured in Addams Family Reading". Playbill. http://www.playbill.com/news/article/120061-Lane-Neuwirth-Chamberlin-McCarthy-and-Arden-Featured-in-Addams-Family-Reading. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
- Gans, Andrew. "Addams Family Sings Together in NYC Workshop of New Musical, With Lane and Neuwirth", playbill.com, January 2009
- The Addams Foundation website
- The Addams Family musical (official site)
- The Addams Family on TVLand.com.com
- The Addams Family on Tribe.net