The Addams Family (1964 TV series)
The Addams Family is an American macabre/black comedy sitcom based on the characters from Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoons. The 30-minute television series was created in developed by David Levy and Donald Saltzman and shot in black-and-white, airing for two seasons on ABC from September 18, 1964, to April 8, 1966, for a total of 64 episodes. The show is also notable for its opening theme, which was composed and sung by Vic Mizzy.
|The Addams Family|
|Genre||Sitcom, Comedy horror|
|Created by||David Levy|
|Based on||The Addams Family|
by Charles Addams
|Opening theme||Vic Mizzy|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||64 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer||David Levy|
|Production locations||Hollywood, California|
|Running time||25 minutes per episode|
|Production company||Filmways Television|
|Original release||September 18, 1964 –|
April 8, 1966
|Preceded by||Cartoons in The New Yorker|
|Followed by||Halloween with the New Addams Family|
|Related shows||The Munsters (1964 – 1966)|
The Addams Family is 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, which is portrayed by the house at 21 Chester Place in Los Angeles. The theme song contains the lyric, "Their house is a museum" which is borne out by the variety of objects in the interior scenes, some of which are collector's items and others which are only bizarre (such as the mounted swordfish head with a human leg protruding from the mouth or a stuffed two headed giant tortoise). Someone stole these props after the show was canceled.
The family is attended by their servants: towering butler Lurch (Ted Cassidy); and Thing (also Cassidy), a disembodied hand that appears from within wooden boxes and other places. 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 who were mainly famous during the era came in the show playing a cameo part as the script permitted (for example, truant officer, insurance salesman, 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, even when the guests express confusion, fear and dismay at the decor of the house and the sight of Lurch and Thing. Some visitors have bad intentions, which the family generally ignore and suffer no harm. The Addamses are puzzled by the horrified reactions to their own good-natured and (to them) normal behavior. Accordingly, they view "conventional" tastes with generally tolerant suspicion. Almost invariably, as a result of their visit to the Addamses, a visitor only wants to leave and never come back.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||34||September 18, 1964||May 21, 1965|
|2||30||September 17, 1965||April 8, 1966|
|Special||October 30, 1977|
For both seasons, episodes aired Friday nights at 8:30 p.m.
Principal cast and their charactersEdit
|Carolyn Jones||Morticia Addams (née Frump)||A cultivated and beautiful woman who knits, dabbles in art, plays the shamisen, raises a carnivorous plant 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 floor-length tight black dress that ends, apparently, in a full set of tentacles. With her aristocratic bearing and detachment, she is often the calm center of the chaotic events of the household, but she performs magical feats effortlessly; for instance, in "Winning of Morticia Addams" she bounces a basketball through three baskets.|
|John Astin||Gomez Addams||A retired lawyer,Gomez is of Castilian descent, he refers to Spain as his "ancestral home". Gomez is passionately in love with his wife, often referring to her with Spanish pet names such as "Querida" and "Cara Mía". His ardor is greatly intensified when she speaks French (A running joke has Gomez mistaking other languages, including Yiddish, for French). Gomez is very wealthy, apparently as a result of owning numerous companies and stocks and is often following the tape from a stock ticker that is installed in the living room. Gomez has a desk drawer and a safe full of cash. He squanders money in a cavalier manner and loses it on stocks, but still remains wealthy. His hobby is gleefully crashing and detonating model trains. He sometimes stands on his head as he reads the newspaper or plays solitaire. Regularly dressed in a double-breasted and chalk-pinstriped suit with a black tie, Gomez is almost always seen smoking a cigar. Astin based the character of Gomez on Groucho Marx. Like Groucho, Astin was also a cigar smoker; he then quit cigars after the series ended.|
|Jackie Coogan||Uncle Fester||Morticia's exuberant uncle who is completely bald and usually dressed in a dark, floor length coat or robe with a large fur collar. 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. He powers light bulbs by placing them into his mouth (the toy or "magic" light bulb used for this trick is still available today).|
|Ted Cassidy||Lurch||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 very tall, physically imposing and plays the 1503 vintage "Krupnik" harpsichord that was originally in Cousin Crimp's family for 400 years. After Lurch answers the door he removes the hats of male visitors, usually crushing them in the process. He is frequently seen with a feather duster. 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).|
|Blossom Rock||Grandmama Addams||Gomez's mother, a witch who conjures potions and spells and dabbles in fortune telling with a crystal ball, and knife throwing. Sometimes she is carrying a battle-axe or sharpening it on a grinding-wheel in the middle of the living room.|
|Lisa Loring||Wednesday Addams||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 headless doll named Marie Antoinette.|
|Ken Weatherwax||Pugsley Addams||Gomez's and Morticia's son and Wednesday's older brother. Chubby, 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||As himself||A disembodied hand that appears out of boxes and other conveniently placed containers. Thing also appears from a knothole in a tree in the front yard, and in The Addams Family in Court, Thing reaches out of Gomez's briefcase to hand him a legal paper in court. 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. The tagline is, "Thank you, Thing." 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. Thing (sometimes "The Thing") was billed as "Itself" in the closing credits; animals in Filmways productions were billed the same way, for instance, Mr. Ed was billed as "Himself".|
Addams Family relatives
The following relatives made appearances on the show, but members of the family mentioned other relatives in each of the episodes:
|Felix Silla, voiced by an uncredited Tony Magro)||Cousin Itt||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. He has a low-ceilinged room of his own in the house, but sometimes he is in the chimney of the living room fireplace. The character was created specifically for the television series.|
|Carolyn Jones||Ophelia Frump||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 is 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.|
|Margaret Hamilton||Hester Frump||The mother of Morticia and Ophelia. She is a witch and an old friend of Grandmama Addams.|
|Parley Baer||Arthur J. Hansen||An insurance executive and politician in the town where the family resides.|
|Eddie Quillan||Joe Digby||An insurance clerk who works for Arthur Henson. Eddie Quillan also played Clyde Arbogast, Mayor Arthur Henson's assistant in "Gomez, the People's Choice".|
|Allyn Joslyn||Sam Hilliard||A truant officer who is scared to death of the family. Later, he runs a private school. 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).|
|Rolfe Sedan||Mr. Briggs, the postman||The neighborhood mailman who delivers the mail to the Addams house.|
|Vito Scotti||Sam Picasso||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, in addition to wordplay, physical comedy, and occasionally slapstick. There was a running gag that labeled people who were not members of the family "strange" or complained of their behavior. Another one was members of the family trading objects when they collided; in "Cousin Itt and the Vocational Counselor" Gomez ends up with Morticia's knitting and Morticia has his cigar. Other running jokes were about strange food and drink, e.g. toadstools and hemlock; bats, the dungeon, the cemetery and other "creepy" things; and Gomez's glee at losing money on the stock market. It lampooned politics ("Gomez, The Politician" and "Gomez, The People's Choice"); modern art ("Art and the Addams Family" and Morticia's painting in several episodes); Shakespeare and other literature ("My Fair Cousin Itt", and other episodes); the legal system ("The Addams Family in Court"); royalty ("Morticia Meets Royalty"); rock n' roll and Beatlemania ("Lurch, The Teenage Idol").
The show's memorable theme, written and arranged by longtime Hollywood composer Vic Mizzy, was dominated by a harpsichord and a bass clarinet, 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 warrant recording and release by RCA Victor as a 45-rpm single, although it failed to chart in the U.S. 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. It was also revisited in the dance scene in Addams Family Values.
The show has been aired worldwide. In the United Kingdom, it first aired on ITV in 1965–1966, on Channel 4 on Friday evenings in 1984-1985 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 until Halloween 2013. It aired on select local stations, and aired on Antenna TV until December 30, 2017.
|DVD Name||Episodes||Release date||Additional information|
|Volume 1||22||August 10, 2006||
|Volume 2||21||March 27, 2007||
|Volume 3||21||September 11, 2007||
|The Complete Series||64||November 13, 2007||
As of October 1, 2019, the series is also being aired on its own channel (511) 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.
Reunions, sequels and adaptationsEdit
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.
In 1972, the third episode of the Saturday morning animated series The New Scooby-Doo Movies featured the Addams Family. Astin, Jones, Coogan, and Cassidy all reprised their roles; 11 year old Jodie Foster provided the voice of Pugsley. This episode was the pilot for the 1973 animated series; Coogan and Cassidy were the only original series cast members who returned for this series. Jodie Foster also returned as the voice of Pugsley. 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.
In 1998, a standalone film, Addams Family Reunion, aired on the Fox Family Channel, followed by the series The New Addams Family that ran from 1998 to 2000. Astin appeared in the series as Grandpapa Addams.
In other mediaEdit
A successful film, The Addams Family, was released by Paramount Pictures in 1991, starring Raul Julia as Gomez, Anjelica Huston as Morticia, Christopher Lloyd as an amnesiac Uncle Fester and Christina Ricci as Wednesday. After the film's release, series creator David Levy filed a lawsuit against Paramount Pictures; the suit was settled out of court. A sequel, Addams Family Values, followed in 1993, to greater critical success than the first film, though it earned less at the box office.
Ted Cassidy makes an in-character appearance as Lurch in a "window-cameo" in the 1960s Batman television series.
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