Trivia Minute January 7, 2016

Charles Addams: A “Family” Man

by Marcus Michelson
The cast of "The Addams Family" television show, which ran between 1964-66.
The cast of “The Addams Family” television show, which ran between 1964-66.

Today is the 103rd anniversary of the birth of illustrator Charles Addams.

Here are some things you may not have known about the creator of “The Addams Family.”

Charles Addams was born in Westfield, New Jersey in 1912. Houses in his hometown were said to be the inspiration for the Addams Family mansion. A childhood friend once said, “his sense of humor was a little different from everybody else’s.”

One of his first jobs was in the layout department of True Detective magazine, where he retouched photos of dead bodies to remove blood from them. His first cartoon in The New Yorker ran in 1932, where his work would feature regularly for the rest of his life.

In 1938, he drew the first cartoon featuring what would become known as “The Addams Family.”

According to an interview with New Yorker cartoon editor Robert Mankoff, Addams drew only about two dozen “Addams Family” comics. In them, none of the family members were named, and wouldn’t be until the 1964 television show premiered.

The family consisted of Gomez Addams, his wife Morticia, their son Pugsley, daughter Wednesday, Uncle Fester and Grandmama. Their butler, Lurch, resembled a combination of Frankenstein’s monster and a zombie.

The family has been described as an eccentric, wealthy family who delight in the macabre. They are indifferent to the fact that people find them unusual. While the family is strange, they aren’t evil. Gomez and Morticia are good parents to Pugsley and Wednesday. They try to help their neighbors and have donated large sums of money to noble causes.

Addams was largely uninvolved in the creation of the television show. He wrote general character descriptions and producers took it from there.

Gomez was played by John Astin, while Morticia was played by Carolyn Jones. Uncle Fester was played by former child actor Jackie Coogan.

The show ran for two 32-episode seasons.

During the run of the television show, William Shawn, the editor of The New Yorker refused to publish any “Addams Family” cartoons, not wanting to associate his high-brow magazine with a common television show. The New Yorker did run other Addams cartoons.

The cartoon also inspired two animated series, a second live action series, and a pilot for a variety show.

It was made into a feature film in 1991 featuring Raul Julia as Gomez, Anjelica Huston as Morticia, Christoper Lloyd as Uncle Fester and Christina Ricci as Wednesday. It was followed by a sequel in 1994. A third film was canceled following the sudden death of Raul Julia.

A direct-to-video film was made in 1998 featuring Tim Curry as Gomez.

The most recent adaptation is a stage musical which premiered in 2010.

Charles Addams continued to draw cartoons until his death in 1988 at the age of 76.

Our question, who played Gomez in the Broadway version of “The Addams Family”?

Today is Christmas in Eastern Orthodox Churches and those that use the Julian calendar. It’s Flag Day in Italy and Pioneer’s Day in Liberia. It’s unofficially National Tempura Day and International Programmers’ Day. Its the birthday of former U.S. President Millard Fillmore, author and civil rights activist Zora Neale Hurston and actor Nicolas Cage.

Now a look back on entertainment charts of the past.

40 years ago, the top song in the U.S. was “Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers; the No. 1 movie was “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Curtain” by Agatha Christie topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

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Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Addams

http://www.newyorker.com/cartoons/bob-mankoff/charles-addam

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Addams_Family

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Addams_Family_(1964_TV_series)

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