April 5, 2024 | Rachel Seigel

Kooky And Spooky Facts About The Addams Family

“And our credo: “Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc". We gladly feast on those who would subdue us. Not just pretty words".–Morticia Addams

The Addams Family were created by cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938. The core family has generally included Morticia, Gomez, Uncle Fester, Grandmama, Wednesday and Pugsley along with their butler Lurch, Thing (a disembodied hand) and Gomez’ Cousin Itt. The macabre clan first appeared as a cartoon in the New Yorker Magazine, but have since gone on to appear in many different forms across television and film. Below are 40 facts about this kooky, spooky family.

1. Cartoon Crossover

On the third episode of the 1972 cartoon The New Scooby-Doo Movies titled “Wednesday is Missing,” four of the original Addams Family cast members guest starred in the show to solve a mystery with Scooby, Shaggy and the rest of Mystery Inc. The characters were drawn to match the original comics, and a young Jodie Foster voiced Pugsley.

the addams family

2. Full of Woe

Wednesday Addams’ name was inspired by a famous nursery rhyme called “Monday’s Child”. The rhyme assigns a character to each day of the week, and as the rhyme goes, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe". This name was not created by Charles Addams at all, but by the company that was making toys that would accompany the television show.

The Addams Family FactsHipsters of the Coast

3. Ghoulish Interests

Charles Addams was known for having somewhat macabre interests. His house was apparently filled with instruments of torment and medieval weapons. He was especially fond of crossbows, and he admitted to fantasizing about shooting a robber with one.

Addams Family FactsWikimedia Commons

4. Strong and Silent Type

The character of Lurch was originally intended to be mute, but that changed with an improvisation. Actor Ted Cassidy ad-libbed the lines “You Rang?” in the show, and ended up getting big laughs from the audience. After that, the writers started giving him lines.

Addams Family FactsWikimedia Commons

5. A Snappy Tune

Vic Mizzy wrote and performed the original theme song for the Addams Family TV show. In the opening, the Addams family are all standing still, except for snapping their fingers in time with the beat. A harpsichord accompanies the song, and Lurch’s voice can be heard interjecting the words neat, sweet and petite. Today, it's one of the most recognizable and iconic television theme songs of all time.

Classic Films FactsAddams Family Values,Paramount Pictures

6. Bringing Them Back

Scott Rudin, the head of production for 20th Century Fox, came up with the idea to make an Addams Family movie while riding in a van. He and several other studio executives were returning from a movie screening when the marketing chief’s son started singing the theme song to the show. Soon everybody else had joined in, and Rudin pitched the movie the next day.

Addams Family FactsShutterstock

7. Make Believe

Angelica Huston grew up reading her parents’ book of Addams Family cartoons and used to pretend that she was Morticia as a little girl. She would never have imagined that she’d end up playing the character in a movie 30 years later.

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8. Breaking New Ground

Believe it or not, the relationship between Morticia and Gomez was considered ground-breaking for the time. They were the first couple to be portrayed in a sitcom as being truly and passionately in love with each other, and their relationship was the first time a married sensual life was even implied on television. It was a huge contrast to the other TV couples who were generally seen as asexual.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

9.  Almost Lurch

John Astin originally auditioned for the role of Lurch, but he was given the role of Gomez instead. It worked out for the best, as Astin believes he shares a lot of personality traits with Gomez, and that the character is a clearer "extension" of his personality than anything else in his career.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

10. Transformation

Christopher Lloyd played Uncle Fester in the Addams Family movies. To make himself look like the character, he not only shaved his head (Fester was bald), but he crouched down throughout filming to appear shorter than his 6’1" frame. Crouching also allowed Lloyd to imitate Fester’s unsteady walk.

Addams Family FactsFlickr,Gage Skidmore

11. Pinball Wizard

As of 2017, the Addams Family pinball machine is the bestselling pinball machine of all time with sales of 20,000 units. The game debuted in 1992 and had the same kind of kooky appeal as the movie. It features a mechanical hand that picks up balls, new dialogue recorded by the film stars, and was fun for experts and novices alike. 

Addams Family FactsWikimedia Commons

12. Hammer Time

Rapper M.C. Hammer performed the theme song “Addams Family Groove” for the 1991 Addams Family film. The song reached #7 on the Billboard Top 100 in the United States, but it also won Hammer a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song. The song was Hammer’s last top ten hit in the US.

Addams Family FactsWikimedia Commons

13. Movie Magic

Rather than attempting some kind of ambitious prop work, the disembodied hand that is Thing was played by an actual actor. Canadian magician Chris Hart played Thing in the movies and would sit for hours under a table, with only his hand exposed, until it went numb. It also took four months to film his scenes, since each scene had to be shot twice, once with Hart and once without. When the scenes were finished, Hart’s body was erased, leaving only the illusion of a bodiless hand.

Addams Family FactsFlickr,Golan Levin

14. Cuter Than The Beatles

During the original show’s run, Lurch developed quite a fan base of teenage girls. The actor playing the spooky butler would receive fan letters from smitten young women, and they said they thought he was even cuter than the Beatles!

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

15. Words for Darling

Gomez and Morticia had numerous pet names for one another, mostly in other languages. Among them were Bubeleh (Yiddish), Mon Cher (French), Querido (Spanish) and Cara Mia (Italian).

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

16. Wake Up Make Up

Both Carolyn Jones and Angelica Huston used to spend hours in the make-up chair getting ready to play Morticia. Jones’s makeup used to take two hours, and Huston’s took three. Early makeup calls weren't unusual, and cast members often had to be in the chair at 4 am.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

17. A Practiced Expression

The slightly manic look that Astin gave Gomez was his own creation. Early in his career, Astin used to live in a rough part of New York City, and he discovered that if he acted insane on the walk from his apartment to the subway, people would leave him alone.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

18. A Temporary Suspension

When The Addams Family started airing, the editor of The New Yorker, William Shawn, refused to print any more Addams Family cartoons from Charles Addams, believing that it cheapened the magazine to have something in common with such a non-exclusive media as television. Once Shawn retired in 1987, the magazine started printing the cartoon again.

Addams Family FactsFlickr,Mark Anderson

19. Change of Heart

Jackie Coogan was turned down for the role of Uncle Fester in the TV series, but he refused to give up. After the audition, he shaved his head, did his own makeup and costume, and tried again. His efforts convinced the producers to change their minds.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

20. A Separate Creation

Cousin Itt is the only family member not to be created by Addams himself. He was the suggestion of producer David Levy, and Addams drew the character for the show. Unlike the other family members, Itt also did not live in the mansion, but he did have his own room for when he came to visit.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

21. A Switch of Hand

In the TV show, Thing was usually portrayed as a right hand, but Ted Cassidy (who also played Lurch) liked to occasionally switch hands just to see if it would be noticed. On some occasions, Thing also had an arm which could be seen when it reached out of the box.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

22. High-Speed Gibberish

Cousin Itt generally couldn’t be understood by anyone outside of the family and sounded mostly like gibberish. To create his voice, one of the producers spoke nonsense into a tape recorder and played it back at high speed.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

23. Je Ne Comprends Pas 

John Astin used to get stopped in the street by fans who would speak French to him, thinking that because he was Gomez, he’d understand. Ringo Starr even once grabbed his arm and started kissing it the way he did to Morticia in the series. Astin stopped him halfway up.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

24. Drawing Inspiration

To get inspiration for Morticia, Anjelica Huston watched Grey Gardens, a 1975 film about two peculiar women who lived in an old decaying mansion, and the related documentaries. In her audition for Wednesday Addams, Christina Ricci used Winona Rider’s performance in Beetlejuice from a few years earlier as a basis for the character.

Winona Ryder FactsBeetlejuice,Warner Bros

25. Keeping Time

Gomez wears a wristwatch and also carries a pocket watch. Both have different times, so if Gomez needs to know what time it is, he checks both watches and averages them out to the right time. He can also check their very unconventional clock, which is in the form of a wolverine which pops out and growls on the hour.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

26. Unusual Menagerie

Being an unusual family, it’s no surprise that the Addams had a number of unusual pets, including a pet lion named Kitty Cat and an octopus named Aristotle who belonged to Pugsley. Wednesday also had a black widow spider named Homer and an anole named Lucifer.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

27. Is He or Isn’t He? 

Much of The Addams Family movie hinges on whether or not the character Gordon is actually Uncle Fester, or if he's just a lookalike. Originally, the script left Gordon’s true identity rather murky. While Gordon looked like Fester, it was never going to be revealed if he actually was or not. The cast wanted a definitive resolution to the plot point and chose Christina Ricci to approach the director and beg him to make Gordon be Fester. Ironically, Christopher Lloyd, who played Fester, was completely indifferent.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,Paramount Pictures

28. The Two Grandmas

In the television version of The Addams Family, Grandmama is the mother of Gomez and is known to dabble in witchcraft and the occult. Her frizzy white hair and her ragged shawl are her trademarks, as is her often macabre sense of humor. In the film version, Grandmama is dead and buried, and the film family's matriarch is actually Morticia’s mother Granny Frump, who is also purported to be a witch.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

29. Family Values

The Addams Family was actually lauded for its positive family values. Despite the fact that they were so odd, they were portrayed as a loving, functional family. As psychiatrist Stephen Cox explained, the parents weren’t ridiculed, they didn’t fight, and they were the heads of a loving family.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

30. Switching Relations

Fester’s relationship to the Addams Family was different in the TV series and the movies. In the series, he was Morticia's uncle, and therefore, not actually an Addams. In the movies, he became Gomez’ brother Fester Addams.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

31. Getting the Right Shade

The original Addams Family TV series was shot in black and white, and in order to make the different shades of black and grey show up properly on screen, the sets had to be painted in varying shades of pink and red.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

32. From Screen to Stage

In 2010, the Addams Family made their Broadway Musical debut at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. It officially opened on April 8, 2010, and ran for a total of 722 performances. The show starred Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia and was nominated for two Tony Awards and several Drama Desk Awards.

Addams Family FactsFlickr,Eva Rinaldi

33. A Chocolatey Spoof

In 2007, a TV commercial introducing M&M’s Dark Chocolate candy parodied The Addams Family by recreating the opening scene, theme song and all, with M&Ms dressed as the characters from the show. According to a research firm that measures the success of product placement and TV ads, it was the favorite commercial for the month of April, when it aired.

Teachers Cheaters FactsWikipedia

34. Hair of the Pup

In Addams Family Values, Gomez prepares a bottle for baby Pubert with the ingredients for a well-known hangover cure called “Hair of the Dog” after the bachelor party. When he gives the bottle to Pubert, he calls it “Hair of the Pup,” and Pubert is wearing sunglasses, which suggests that he’s nursing a hangover of his own.

Addams Family FactsAddams Family Values,Paramount Pictures

35. A Kooky Spooky House

The house pictured in the opening credits to The Addams Family TV series was real. It was located at 21 Chester Place in Los Angeles, and the special effects crew added a third floor with a tower to make it appear even creepier. Sadly, fans of the show can’t go visit, as the house was demolished at some point between 1968 and 1972.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

36. Suffering for Her Art

Angelica Huston’s turn as Morticia Adams was a rather uncomfortable experience, at least physically. In order to make her eyes look slanted, the makeup team gave her gauze eye-lifts. This resulted in her getting terrible headaches. Huston also had to wear a painful metal corset to get the cartoon character’s tiny waist and had neck tucks and fake nails.

Addams Family FactsAddams Family Values,Paramount Pictures

37. Addams Animated

In 1973, an animated version of The Addams Family aired on TV. The show used some of the original actors from the 1960s version, and new characters were based on Addams’ original comic strip. In 2019, the family is set to return to the big screen in a new animated film. Oscar Issac of Star Wars fame is in talks to be the voice of Gomez, but few other details about the movie have been released.

Addams Family FactsThe Addams Family,MGM Television

 38. What If…

The Addams Family movie could have had a very different cast. At one time, Tim Burton was attached to the film as director. Cher reportedly wanted to play the role of Morticia, but the producers wanted Angelica Huston from the start. Danny DeVito and Bob Hoskins were both offered the role of Fester, but both turned it down. Anthony Hopkins was also offered Fester but opted to star in The Silence of the Lambs instead. That one might have been the right choice.

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39. You Can’t Call Him That! 

When Charles Addams debuted the cartoon in The New Yorker, the characters had no names. When it came time for the television show, Addams suggested Repelli for the father and Pubert for the son. The latter was rejected by the network censors, who thought that it sounded a little too much like a dirty word. However, Pubert did end up getting used in the Addams Family Values film for the mustachioed baby.

Addams Family FactsAddams Family Values,Paramount Pictures

40. Maybe Not

Michael Jackson was originally contracted to write a song for the Addams Family Values movie, but the song, called "It is Scary," never made it onto the soundtrack. As a result of some contract issues and the child molestation charges being brought against Jackson, it was removed from the soundtrack, and the video that was to accompany it was never made. Jackson did end up including the song on his 1997 album Blood on the Dance Floor: History in the Mix, and he also used it in his movie Ghosts.

Oprah Winfrey factsGetty Images

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22


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