Here was a family for the morbidly minded and the theme song said it all: they were creepy and they were kooky. Ooky, even. The opening sequence music had one of the catchiest tunes around, with finger snaps and everything. And, although there were other monsters (er, Munsters) on the television airwaves of the 60s, The Addams Family contained a decidedly darker humor than its prime-time cohorts and, as a result, won the hearts of millions of loyal fans along the way.
The Addams family was first introduced to the public in the late 1930s, as a series of cartoons in the New Yorker magazine. Charles Addams, the creator, drew them as single-panel vignettes depicting their strange and ghastly customs, which of course seemed perfectly normal to the Addams clan. Some of those early cartoons showed the family sitting down to feast on a two-headed pig (Where is the wrong? More pig to go around!), pouring hot wax on Christmas carolers or baking cookies shaped like bats.
In 1964, the Addams family entered the television medium. As the family members were nameless in the cartoons, the writers of the show gave them their memorable monikers. Gomez, the father of the clan, was a flamboyant lawyer who would challenge you to a sword duel as soon as look at you; Morticia, the mother, was an icy and aloof femme fatale with an unflappable manner; their children were Pugsley, a chubby hell-raiser, and Wednesday, a happy-go-lucky little girl, who resembled her mother. There was also Granny, a batty old witch, and Uncle Fester, a bald middle-aged man who was as mischievous as a little kid and could power light bulbs by placing the socket end in his mouth (very handy in a blackout). Lurch, a tall ghoulish-looking servant, attended to the family’s needs and rarely spoke, except to boom out his signature phrase — “You rang?” – in a low, menacing voice. For anyone who needed an extra hand around the house, Thing was just that: a hand that scampered around on its fingers.
The Addams family occasionally received visits from Cousin Itt, a short little fellow covered in long, luxurious hair that hid his face, body and legs (in fact, it’s not clear whether Cousin Itt had a face, body or legs) and wearing a bowler hat. Ophelia, Morticia’s sister, joined the cast in later episodes, hinting that the strange family had many other relatives, at least as weird as they were. That weirdness often caused misunderstandings and misadventures when the Addams clan intersected the ‘normal’ world. Run of the mill society had some trouble accepting the family’s spookiness but the Addams family never worried about their detractors. They enjoyed an unconventional lifestyle that was more tolerant of individual expression than the society around them and, in time-honored sitcom tradition, all conflicts were resolved by the end of the episode.
The show ran for just two seasons, thanks to that other creepy family unit, The Munsters, who took a respectable bite out of The Addams Family audience. Loyal fans remained faithful through years of syndication, however, and were rewarded with a cartoon series in 1973, a feature film in 1991 and a hit Broadway musical in 2010, proving that those lovable Addams have never lost their ghoulish appeal over the years.
If you were a loyal follower of The Addams Family, always preferring them over their Munster competitors, we welcome all of your recollections of this classic 60s sitcom in our comments section.