The Addams Family are about as Halloween as it gets. Characterized by cheery-yet-ghoulish sensibilities, the Addams are a montrosity-laden tool of satire rather than truly frightening or evil. Unsettling, sure, and, for the most part, awkwardly to outright funny.
The macabre family’s origins are rooted in the highfalutin’ lit world; cartoonist Charles Addams single-panel cartoons of the Addams Family were a staple in The New Yorker, beginning in 1939 and until his death in 1988 (he’d been contributing to the magazine since 1932).
From the beginning, the Addams Family was well received, and in 1964 The Addams Family television show premiered, and presented an opportunity for a mass audience to enjoy dapper Gomez, vampish Morticia, hairball Cousin It, the disembodied hand called Thing, the appropriately named Lurch, off-putting Uncle Fester, Wednesday and Pugsley — Morticia and Gomez’s progeny — and many more. The finger-snapping theme song was about as distinct as they come.
The sitcom lasted two seasons and a total of 64 episodes. Fun fact: New Yorker editor William Shawn wouldn’t run Addams Family cartoons during this time, though he did run cartoons by Charles Addams, and would feature the family once the TV series was off the air.
Other shows included a failed pilot for a music/variety-style show, two animated series (1973-’75 and 1992-’93), and another live-acted sitcom, The New Addams Family, which ran on Fox Family (1998-’99).
Arguably the biggest splash the Addams Family made was at the cinema. Two movies, The Addams Family in 1991, and Addams Family Values two years later, were both financial successes; a third was scrapped reportedly due to the death of Raul Julia, who played Gomez. He was notably joined in the films by Anjelica Huston (Morticia), Christopher Lloyd (Fester), and Christina Ricci (Wednesday), among others. A direct-to-video film, Addams Family Reunion (1998) was less impressive on all fronts.
A pinball game based on the first The Addams Family movie proved to be the best-selling pinball game of all time (and deservedly!), they also inspired multiple video games…
Perhaps as high an honor as one can achieve in the Internet age, Charles Addams’ 100th birthday was acknowledged with a Google Doodle on Jan. 12 of this year.
Keep an eye out, another character on the Countdown will be revealed at every night at 12:01 am for the rest of the month. You’ll also be able to find them HERE.