Everyone's favorite creepy, kooky, and altogether ooky family is back on the big screen this October with the new, animated version of The Addams Family! With such a gruesomely successful family career, we decided to dive into the history of the Addamses. From their humble beginnings as a New Yorker comic to their various movie adaptations, we wanted to take you into the story of the family that has burrowed into the deepest, darkest pits of our hearts.
The New Yorker (1938)
Most of us assume that The Addams Family started life as a television series in the early 1960’s, but their beginnings go way back to 1938 when they made their debut in a series of comic panels created by Charles Addams for The New Yorker.
Charles Addams was a freelance cartoonist born in 1912 to piano executive Charles Huey Addams and his wife, Grace M. Spear Addams. It has been rumored that the concept for Morticia Addams was based on the slinky and serpentine appearance of his first wife, Barbara Jean Day.
The Addams were a satirical representation of an aristocratic, 20th-century American family: an odd wealthy group who find joy in the macabre and are seemingly indifferent to the fact that others find them bizarre or outright terrifying. Between their arrival in 1938 and Charles Addams' death in 1988, The Addams Family appeared in over 150 single-panel cartoons published in The New Yorker. The family members, however, were not properly named until their small screen adaptation of The Addams Family TV show in 1964.
Gomez (John Astin) and Morticia (Carolyn Jones) in The Addams Family (1964)
(1964) The incarnation that brought The Addams to global attention was ABC’s original TV series which ran from 1964 to 1966, airing 64 episodes over two seasons. The show starred John Astin as the suave, hopelessly-romantic patriarch, Gomez, Carolyn Jones as his haughty yet lovely wife Morticia, Lisa Loring as their sullen daughter Wednesday, Ken Weatherwax as their dastardly son Pugsley, Ted Cassidy as their towering butler Lurch, Jackie Coogan as Morticia’s bizarre brother Uncle Fester, and Blossom Rock as the witchy Grandmama.
This black-and-white, television classic brought fame and glory to the Addams name, becoming a household show for millions of viewers. However, during the show’s airing, The New Yorker editor William Shawn refused to publish any of the Addams Family cartoons in their prints, though they continued to publish other of Charles’ cartoons. Although this series only ran until 1966, it wouldn’t be the last time they appeared on television.
(1972) Flash forward to the early 70’s, when the ever-popular Hanna-Barbera show, The New Scooby-Doo Movies, featured the Addamses, titled “Scooby-Doo Meets the Addams Family.” Once again, we were graced by some of the original cast: Astin, Jones, Coogan, and Cassidy who reprised their roles from the original series—or at least their voices. The guest appearance on Scooby Doo resulted in the creation of their very own animated series, which was based on the original cartoon panels from The New Yorker. Running for two seasons, this rendition of our beloved family took a hard turn from the original series, hitting the road in a Victorian-style RV.
While Coogan and Cassidy returned to voice Fester and Lurch (respectively), the remaining cast was replaced by Lennie Weinrib as Gomez, Janet Waldo as Morticia, Cindy Henderson as Wednesday, and (believe it or not) Jodie Foster as the voice of Pugsly.
(1977) Moving on to the late 70’s, we were once again blessed with the original cast of The Addams Family as they were brought back for the holiday special, Halloween with the New Addams Family. The biggest change being that Wednesday and Pugsley had now grown, leaving room for two additional family members, Wednesday Jr. and Pugsley Jr.—clever, right?
Morticia (Anjelica Huston) and Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) in The Addams Family (1991)
(1991) With the passing of Charles Addams in 1988, it only seemed appropriate that the titular family be laid to rest. That would mean, tragically, that he would miss the debut of his famed family on the big screen as The Addams Family appeared for a full-length feature movie. Grossing $191 million worldwide and spawning wide commercial success, the movie starred Anjelica Huston as Morticia, Raúl Juliá as Gomez, Christina Ricci as Wednesday, Jimmy Workman as Pugsley, Christopher Lloyd as Fester, Judith Malina as Grandmama, and Carel Struycken as Lurch. (Additional, bizarre trivia: the movie also resulted in a pinball machine, which became the biggest selling pinball machine of all time).
(1992) After the success of The Addams Family movie, a new animated series was brought back to ABC, again, produced by Hanna-Barbera. Deviating from the original animations by Charles Shaw, the characters took on much more animated, demented expressions, making the characters seem much more grotesque. The show (like the others) ran for just two seasons.
Wednesday Addams (Christina Ricci) in Addams Family Values (1993)
(1993) With staggering success in the box office from the 1991 movie, a sequel to The Addams Family movie was quickly greenlit by Paramount Pictures, resulting in Addams Family Values. The original cast returned, except for Judith Malina, who was replaced by Carol Kane as Grandmama. Despite being a wildly entertaining movie (and favorite to some), Addams Family Values didn’t see the same success as the original, causing the studio to pull the plug on a third movie in fear of risking a loss of profit.
(1998) With a huge misfire in Addams Family Reunion (a thought-to-be sequel to Values), the movie was actually a sitcom pilot which was redirected into a straight-to-video movie that quickly flopped after its release. With Tim Curry starring as Gomez, Daryl Hannah as Morticia, Nicole Fugere as Wednesday, Jerry Messing as Pugsley, Patrick Thomas as Fester), and Alice Ghostly as Grandmama, the only returning family member was Carel Struycken as towering manservant, Lurch.
(1998) One of the most overlooked adaptations of the ghastly family was the American-Canadian sitcom entitled The New Addams Family, which aired between 1998 and 99, for 65 episodes—one more episode than the original version! With all of the nostalgia from the original 60’s series and the modern punchlines of the 90’s incarnation, this rendition of the beloved family was a secret hit. We even got to see original Gomez actor, John Astin, guest-starring as Grandpapa Addams.
Grandma (voiced by Bette Midler) and Pugsley (voiced by Finn Wolfhard) in The Addams Family (2019)
(2019) Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, and many more are taking on the honor of bringing the creepy and kooky American family to life in this year’s animated take on The Addams Family. With a script by Pamela Pettler (Corpse Bride) and Matt Lieberman, and with the help of Sausage Party (2016) directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, we can expect a lot of laughs from the upcoming movie. With Isaac and Theron as Gomez and Morticia Addams respectively, we meet the supporting cast which includes Chloë Grace Moretz as Wednesday, Finn Wolfhard as Pugsley, Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester, Bette Midler as Grandma, and Snoop Dogg (yes, Snoop Dogg) as cousin It.
For all of you that have been with the Addamses from the beginning, or those who just can’t wait to get a laugh out this Halloween season, join us at Regal for the release of The Addams Family, opening tonight.