Peerless icons of black humour, Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Wednesday and Cousin Itt are very esteemed as favourite tattoo subjects
This story began a long time ago. If Charles Addams were still alive today, he’d be celebrating 105 years old in this 2017. Sadly, Charles passed away in 1988, but not before inventing (on paper) one of the most popular franchises of the last century, the genial, eccentric and decidedly lugubrious Addams Family.
The brilliant cartoonist first introduced the world to his Family (who hadn’t even been given their Addams name yet) in a cartoon strip in the daily New Yorker as far back as the 1930’s. But they didn’t hit the big time till thirty years later when screenwriter David Leavy brought the batty household onto television screens as a popular sit com broadcast on ABC from 1964 to 1966, a total of 64 episodes.
Long enough to make legends of Gomez (John Astin), his wife Morticia (goth-punk-rockabilly icon par excellence Carolyn Jones), and their children Pugsley (the son) and Wednesday (the sadistic little girl with a penchant for torture), Uncle Fester (played by ex-child prodigy Jackie Coogan), Grandmama Addams, Lurch (the butler and a dead ringer for Frankenstein), Cousin Itt and other costars including the much-loved disembodied hand, Thing.
In their gloomy mansion located at 0001 Cemetery Lane, the Addams became an instant hit with the general public thanks to an inspired yet simple idea. In order to distinguish them from The Munsters, the competition on the rival network CBS, which featured vampires, werewolves and the like, Leavy chose not to paint his characters as… actual monsters! Instead, he created people, albeit weird people, and conspicuously wealthy people, what’s more. None of the Addams needs to work for a living and this allows the head of the family, Gomez, to devote all his energy to his burning passion, blowing up expensive model trains.
It was a sort of inverted black humour that made the Addams the darlings of viewers of all ages and forced the inventors (Leavy first and foremost) to rejuvenate the originals as time went by. The first experiment was broadcast in 1977 with the TV-film ‘Halloween with the New Addams Family’ which lasted 90 minutes against the 25 of the individual episodes in the TV series from the 1960’s.
The popularity of the series went unabated so between 1991 and 1993, it was Hollywood’s turn (with the two films ‘The Addams Family’ and ‘The Addams Family 2’) which met with moderate box-office success. But something got lost along the way seeing as how in 1998, the third film entitled ‘Addams Family Reunion’, went straight to home video.
However it did mark the launch of a new tv series called ‘The New Addams Family’ which revived the cult series with 65 episodes filmed in a new location (1313 Cemetery Lane taking the place of the historic 0001). And there was a cameo appearance that dew a sigh from all the over-forties, a surprise appearance in one episode of the grandfather of the new Gomez Addams played by Glenn Taranto. And who was it? None other than good old John Astin, naturally. The original Gomez. Puffing away on a cigar under his magnificent moustache.