The Addams Family (1964 TV series)
The Addams Family is an American television series based on the characters from Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoons. The 30-minute series was created 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. It is often compared to its CBS rival, The Munsters, which ran for the same two seasons and achieved somewhat higher Nielsen ratings. The show is also notable for its opening theme that was composed by Vic Mizzy.
|The Addams Family|
|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(s)||David Levy|
|Production location(s)||Hollywood, California|
|Running time||25 minutes per episode|
|Distributor||Filmways Syndication Sales|
MGM Television (through The Program Exchange)
|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 show was originally produced by head writer Nat Perrin for Filmways, Inc. at General Service Studios in Hollywood, California. Successor company MGM Television (via The Program Exchange for broadcast syndication and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for home video/DVD) now owns the rights to the show.
The Addams are 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, attended by their servants: Lurch (Ted Cassidy), the towering butler, and Thing, a disembodied hand that appears from within a small wooden box. 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 mainly famous during the era came in the show playing a cameo part, as the script permitted (example, a truant officer, insurance man 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, unaware that some of their guests often have bad intentions. They are puzzled by the horrified reactions to their own good-natured and normal behavior, since the family is under the impression that their tastes are shared by most of society. Accordingly, they view "conventional" tastes with generally tolerant suspicion. Invariably, as a result of their visit to the Addamses, a visitor would be institutionalized, change professions, move out of the country or suffer some other negative life-changing event.
Cast and charactersEdit
- Morticia Addams (Carolyn Jones) – A cultivated and beautiful woman who knits, dabbles in art, plays the shamisen, raises carnivorous plants 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 long, floor-length tight black dress, and with her aristocratic bearing and detachment, she is often the calm center of the chaotic events of the household.
- Gomez Addams (John Astin) – A retired lawyer, of Castillian descent, who is passionately in love with his wife, often referring to her in Spanish pet names such as "Querida" and "Cara Mía". His ardor is greatly intensified when she speaks French. Gomez is very wealthy as a result of owning numerous companies and stocks, and squanders money in a cavalier manner while remaining wealthy, while his hobby consists of gleefully detonating model trains. He refers to Spain as his "ancestral home" with his family background referenced as "Castilian". Regularly dressed in a double-breasted, chalk pinstriped suit with a black tie, Gomez is almost always seen smoking a cigar. Astin added this trait to the character as he had already been a cigar smoker prior to the show's debut, but then quit after the series ended.
- Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan) – Morticia's exuberant uncle, who is completely bald and dressed in a floor-length, fur-collared coat. 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, while he powers light bulbs by placing them into his mouth.
- Lurch (Ted Cassidy) – 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 physically imposing and plays the harpsichord. 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).
- Grandmama Addams (Blossom Rock) – Gomez's mother, a witch who conjures potions and spells, and dabbles in fortune telling and knife throwing.
- Wednesday Addams (Lisa Loring) – 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 beheaded doll named Marie Antoinette.
- Pugsley Addams (Ken Weatherwax) – Gomez's and Morticia's son, and Wednesday's older brother. 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 – A disembodied hand that appears out of boxes and other conveniently placed containers. 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. 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. However, Thing was regularly billed as "Itself" in the closing credits.
- Cousin Itt (Felix Silla; voiced by Tony Magro) – 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. The character was created specifically for the television series.
- Ophelia Frump (Carolyn Jones) – Morticia's flighty flower-child 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 are 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.
- Hester Frump (Margaret Hamilton) – The mother of Morticia and Ophelia.
- Arthur J. Henson (Parley Baer) – An insurance executive in the town where the family resides.
- Joe Digby (Eddie Quillan) – An insurance clerk who works for Arthur Henson.
- Sam L. Hilliard (Allyn Joslyn) – A truant officer who is scared to death of the family. 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).
- Mr. Briggs (Rolfe Sedan) – The neighborhood postman who delivers the mail to the Addams house.
- Sam Picasso (Vito Scotti) – 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. It lampooned politics ("Gomez, The Politician" and "Gomez, The People's Choice"), the legal system ("The Addams Family in Court"), rock n' roll and Beatlemania ("Lurch, The Teenage Idol") and Hollywood ("My Fair Cousin Itt").
The show's memorable theme, written and arranged by longtime Hollywood composer Vic Mizzy, was dominated by a harpsichord 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 enjoy a release as a 45-rpm single, though it failed to make the U.S. charts. 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.
The closing theme was similar, but was instrumental only and featured such instruments as a triangle, a wooden block, a siren whistle and a duck call.
For both seasons, episodes aired Friday nights at 8:30 p.m.
The show has been aired worldwide. In the United Kingdom, it first aired on ITV in 1965–1966, and then it appeared on Sky 1 in 1991 and ran until 1992. and then it was 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.
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.
Astin reprised his role as Gomez Addams for the 1992 animated adaptation of the series. No other members of the original cast were involved.
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. John Astin and Lisa Loring are the only living cast members from the TV show.
As of May 2009, the show can be purchased on iTunes, and can be streamed in the US on Netflix, Amazon Video, IMDb, YouTube and Hulu, and minisodes are available on Crackle. MGM Home Entertainment has released The Addams Family on DVD in Region 1, 2 and 4 in three-volume sets.
|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||
In other mediaEdit
A successful film, The Addams Family, was released by Paramount Pictures in 1991, starring Raúl Juliá 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.
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