“And our credo: “Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc.” We gladly feast on those who would subdue us. Not just pretty words.”–Morticia Addams
The Addams Family were created by cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938. The core family has generally included Morticia, Gomez, Uncle Fester, Grandmama, Wednesday and Pugsley along with their butler Lurch, Thing (a disembodied hand) and Gomez’ Cousin Itt. The macabre clan first appeared as a cartoon in the New Yorker Magazine, but have since gone on to appear in many different forms across television and film. Below are 42 facts about this kooky, spooky family.
42. Cartoon Crossover
On the third episode of the 1972 cartoon The New Scooby-Doo Movies titled “Wednesday is Missing,” four of the original Addams Family cast members guest starred in the show to solve a mystery with Scooby, Shaggy and the rest of Mystery Inc. The characters were drawn to match the original comics, and a young Jodie Foster voiced Pugsley.
41. Full of Woe
Wednesday Addams’ name was inspired by a famous nursery rhyme called “Monday’s Child”. The rhyme assigns a character to each day of the week, and as the rhyme goes, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.” This name was not created by Charles Addams at all, but by the company that was making toys that would accompany the television show.
40. Ghoulish Interests
Charles Addams was known for having somewhat macabre interests. His house was apparently filled with torture instruments and medieval weapons. He was especially fond of crossbows, and he admitted to fantasizing about shooting a robber with one.
39. Strong and Silent Type
The character of Lurch was originally intended to be mute, but that changed with an improvisation. Actor Ted Cassidy ad-libbed the lines “You Rang?” in the show, and ended up getting big laughs from the audience. After that, the writers started giving him lines.
38. A Snappy Tune
Vic Mizzy wrote and performed the original theme song for the Addams Family TV show. In the opening, the Addams family are all standing still, except for snapping their fingers in time with the beat. A harpsichord accompanies the song, and Lurch’s voice can be heard interjecting the words neat, sweet and petite. Today, it’s one of the most recognizable and iconic television theme songs of all time.
37. Bringing Them Back
Scott Rudin, the head of production for 20th Century Fox, came up with the idea to make an Addams Family movie while riding in a van. He and several other studio executives were returning from a movie screening when the marketing chief’s son started singing the theme song to the show. Soon everybody else had joined in, and Rudin pitched the movie the next day.
36. Make Believe
Angelica Huston grew up reading her parents’ book of Addams Family cartoons and used to pretend that she was Morticia as a little girl. She would never have imagined that she’d end up playing the character in a movie 30 years later.
35. Breaking New Ground
Believe it or not, the relationship between Morticia and Gomez was considered ground-breaking for the time. They were the first couple to be portrayed in a sitcom as being truly and passionately in love with each other, and their relationship was the first time a married sex life was even implied on television. It was a huge contrast to the other TV couples who were generally seen as asexual.
34. Lining His Pockets
Gomez, played by John Astin in the TV series, was known for placing lit cigars in his jacket pockets. Astin later admitted that he used to smoke cigars at the time, and he thought that it would be right for the character. To prevent him from getting burnt, the prop department lined the pockets of the jacket with asbestos. That maybe wouldn’t fly today.
33. Almost Lurch
John Astin originally auditioned for the role of Lurch, but he was given the role of Gomez instead. It worked out for the best, as Astin believes he shares a lot of personality traits with Gomez, and that the character is a clearer “extension” of his personality than anything else in his career.
Christopher Lloyd played Uncle Fester in the Addams Family movies. To make himself look like the character, he not only shaved his head (Fester was bald), but he crouched down throughout filming to appear shorter than his 6’1″ frame. Crouching also allowed Lloyd to imitate Fester’s unsteady walk.
31. Pinball Wizard
As of 2017, the Addams Family pinball machine is the bestselling pinball machine of all time with sales of 20,000 units. The game debuted in 1992 and had the same kind of kooky appeal as the movie. It features a mechanical hand that picks up balls, new dialogue recorded by the film stars, and was fun for experts and novices alike.
30. Hammer Time
Rapper M.C. Hammer performed the theme song “Addams Family Groove” for the 1991 Addams Family film. The song reached #7 on the Billboard Top 100 in the United States, but it also won Hammer a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song. The song was Hammer’s last top ten hit in the US.
29. Movie Magic
Rather than attempting some kind of ambitious prop work, the disembodied hand that is Thing was played by an actual actor. Canadian magician Chris Hart played Thing in the movies and would sit for hours under a table, with only his hand exposed, until it went numb. It also took four months to film his scenes, since each scene had to be shot twice, once with Hart and once without. When the scenes were finished, Hart’s body was erased, leaving only the illusion of a bodiless hand.
28. Cuter Than The Beatles
During the original show’s run, Lurch developed quite a fan base of teenage girls. The actor playing the spooky butler would receive fan letters from smitten young women, and they said they thought he was even cuter than the Beatles!
27. Words for Darling
Gomez and Morticia had numerous pet names for one another, mostly in other languages. Among them were Bubeleh (Yiddish), Mon Cher (French), Querido (Spanish) and Cara Mia (Italian).
26. Wake Up Make Up
Both Carolyn Jones and Angelica Huston used to spend hours in the make-up chair getting ready to play Morticia. Jones’s makeup used to take two hours, and Huston’s took three. Early makeup calls weren’t unusual, and cast members often had to be in the chair at 4 am.
25. A Practiced Expression
The slightly manic look that Astin gave Gomez was his own creation. Early in his career, Astin used to live in a rough part of New York City, and he discovered that if he acted insane on the walk from his apartment to the subway, people would leave him alone.
24. A Temporary Suspension
When The Addams Family started airing, the editor of The New Yorker, William Shawn, refused to print any more Addams Family cartoons from Charles Addams, believing that it cheapened the magazine to have something in common with such a non-exclusive media as television. Once Shawn retired in 1987, the magazine started printing the cartoon again.
23. Change of Heart
Jackie Coogan was turned down for the role of Uncle Fester in the TV series, but he refused to give up. After the audition, he shaved his head, did his own makeup and costume, and tried again. His efforts convinced the producers to change their minds.
22. A Separate Creation
Cousin Itt is the only family member not to be created by Addams himself. He was the suggestion of producer David Levy, and Addams drew the character for the show. Unlike the other family members, Itt also did not live in the mansion, but he did have his own room for when he came to visit.
21. A Switch of Hand
In the TV show, Thing was usually portrayed as a right hand, but Ted Cassidy (who also played Lurch) liked to occasionally switch hands just to see if it would be noticed. On some occasions, Thing also had an arm which could be seen when it reached out of the box.
20. High-Speed Gibberish
Cousin Itt generally couldn’t be understood by anyone outside of the family and sounded mostly like gibberish. To create his voice, one of the producers spoke nonsense into a tape recorder and played it back at high speed.
19. Je Ne Comprends Pas
John Astin used to get stopped in the street by fans who would speak French to him, thinking that because he was Gomez, he’d understand. Ringo Starr even once grabbed his arm and started kissing it the way he did to Morticia in the series. Astin stopped him halfway up.
18. A Nod to the Original
There are several instances in the 1991 Addams Family movie that reference the original Addams cartoon. The passenger on Gomez’s toy train, the painted octopus on the foot of Wednesday’s bed, and the introductory scene where the family pours oil on the carollers all allude to the Addams Family comics.
17. Drawing Inspiration
To get inspiration for Morticia, Anjelica Huston watched Grey Gardens, a 1975 film about two peculiar women who lived in an old decaying mansion, and the related documentaries. In her audition for Wednesday Addams, Christina Ricci used Winona Rider’s performance in Beetlejuice from a few years earlier as a basis for the character.
16. Keeping Time
Gomez wears a wristwatch and also carries a pocket watch. Both have different times, so if Gomez needs to know what time it is, he checks both watches and averages them out to the right time. He can also check their very unconventional clock, which is in the form of a wolverine which pops out and growls on the hour.
15. Unusual Menagerie
Being an unusual family, it’s no surprise that the Addams had a number of unusual pets, including a pet lion named Kitty Cat and an octopus named Aristotle who belonged to Pugsley. Wednesday also had a black widow spider named Homer and an anole named Lucifer.
14. Is He or Isn’t He?
Much of The Addams Family movie hinges on whether or not the character Gordon is actually Uncle Fester, or if he’s just a lookalike. Originally, the script left Gordon’s true identity rather murky. While Gordon looked like Fester, it was never going to be revealed if he actually was or not. The cast wanted a definitive resolution to the plot point and chose Christina Ricci to approach the director and beg him to make Gordon be Fester. Ironically, Christopher Lloyd, who played Fester, was completely indifferent.
13. The Two Grandmas
In the television version of The Addams Family, Grandmama is the mother of Gomez and is known to dabble in witchcraft and the occult. Her frizzy white hair and her ragged shawl are her trademarks, as is her often macabre sense of humor. In the film version, Grandmama is dead and buried, and the film family’s matriarch is actually Morticia’s mother Granny Frump, who is also purported to be a witch.
12. Family Values
The Addams Family was actually lauded for its positive family values. Despite the fact that they were so odd, they were portrayed as a loving, functional family. As psychiatrist Stephen Cox explained, the parents weren’t ridiculed, they didn’t fight, and they were the heads of a loving family.
11. Switching Relations
Fester’s relationship to the Addams Family was different in the TV series and the movies. In the series, he was Morticia’s uncle, and therefore, not actually an Addams. In the movies, he became Gomez’ brother Fester Addams.
10. Getting the Right Shade
The original Addams Family TV series was shot in black and white, and in order to make the different shades of black and grey show up properly on screen, the sets had to be painted in varying shades of pink and red.
9. From Screen to Stage
In 2010, the Addams Family made their Broadway Musical debut at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. It officially opened on April 8, 2010, and ran for a total of 722 performances. The show starred Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia and was nominated for two Tony Awards and several Drama Desk Awards.
8. A Chocolatey Spoof
In 2007, a TV commercial introducing M&M’s Dark Chocolate candy parodied The Addams Family by recreating the opening scene, theme song and all, with M&Ms dressed as the characters from the show. According to a research firm that measures the success of product placement and TV ads, it was the favorite commercial for the month of April, when it aired.
7. Hair of the Pup
In Addams Family Values, Gomez prepares a bottle for baby Pubert with the ingredients for a well-known hangover cure called “Hair of the Dog” after the bachelor party. When he gives the bottle to Pubert, he calls it “Hair of the Pup,” and Pubert is wearing sunglasses, which suggests that he’s nursing a hangover of his own.
6. A Kooky Spooky House
The house pictured in the opening credits to The Addams Family TV series was real. It was located at 21 Chester Place in Los Angeles, and the special effects crew added a third floor with a tower to make it appear even creepier. Sadly, fans of the show can’t go visit, as the house was demolished at some point between 1968 and 1972.
5. Suffering for Her Art
Angelica Huston’s turn as Morticia Adams was a rather uncomfortable experience, at least physically. In order to make her eyes look slanted, the makeup team gave her gauze eye-lifts. This resulted in her getting terrible headaches. Huston also had to wear a painful metal corset to get the cartoon character’s tiny waist and had neck tucks and fake nails.
4. Addams Animated
In 1973, an animated version of The Addams Family aired on TV. The show used some of the original actors from the 1960s version, and new characters were based on Addams’ original comic strip. In 2019, the family is set to return to the big screen in a new animated film. Oscar Issac of Star Wars fame is in talks to be the voice of Gomez, but few other details about the movie have been released.
3. What If…
The Addams Family movie could have had a very different cast. At one time, Tim Burton was attached to the film as director. Cher reportedly wanted to play the role of Morticia, but the producers wanted Angelica Huston from the start. Danny DeVito and Bob Hoskins were both offered the role of Fester, but both turned it down. Anthony Hopkins was also offered Fester but opted to star in The Silence of the Lambs instead. That one might have been the right choice.
2. You Can’t Call Him That!
When Charles Addams debuted the cartoon in The New Yorker, the characters had no names. When it came time for the television show, Addams suggested Repelli for the father and Pubert for the son. The latter was rejected by the network censors, who thought that it sounded a little too much like a dirty word. However, Pubert did end up getting used in the Addams Family Values film for the mustachioed baby.
1. Maybe Not
Michael Jackson was originally contracted to write a song for the Addams Family Values movie, but the song, called “It is Scary,” never made it onto the soundtrack. As a result of some contract issues and the child molestation charges being brought against Jackson, it was removed from the soundtrack, and the video that was to accompany it was never made. Jackson did end up including the song on his 1997 album Blood on the Dance Floor: History in the Mix, and he also used it in his movie Ghosts.
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