(Via Jim Gurney)
This video tells the story of how Charles Addams (1912-1988) got his start as a cartoonist for the New Yorker and how he developed the macabre cast of characters who eventually became the Addams Family on television and movies—(Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Uncle Fester, Grandmama, Lurch,Thing, Cousin Itt, and Ophelia). (Direct link to YouTube video)
Addams Family on Wikipedia
Book: Charles Addams: The Addams Family: an Evilution
Charles Samuel "Chas" Addams (January 7, 1912 -- September 29, 1988) was an American cartoonist known for his darkly humorous and macabre characters. Some of the recurring characters, who became known as the Addams Family, have been the basis for spin-offs in several other mediums.
The Addams Family is an American television series based on the characters in Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoons. The 30-minute series was shot in black-and-white and aired for two seasons on ABC from September 18, 1964, to April 8, 1966, for a total of 64 episodes. It is often compared to its CBS rival, "The Munsters", which ran for the same two seasons and achieved somewhat higher Nielsen ratings. The show is the first adaptation of the characters to feature The Addams Family Theme.
The Addams Family was originally produced by Filmways, Inc. at General Service Studios in Hollywood, California. Successor company MGM Television (via The Program Exchange for broadcast syndication and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for home video/DVD) now own the rights to the show.
The Addams are a close-knit extended family with decidedly macabre interests. They are humans with supernatural abilities. No explanation for their powers is explicitly given in the series.
The very wealthy, endlessly enthusiastic Gomez Addams (John Astin) is madly in love with his refined wife, the former Morticia Frump (Carolyn Jones). Along with their daughter Wednesday (Lisa Loring), their son Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax), Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan), and Grandmama (Blossom Rock), they reside in an ornate, gloomy, Second Empire-style mansion, attended by their servants: Lurch (Ted Cassidy), the towering butler, and Thing (billed as "itself" but played by Cassidy), a disembodied hand that usually appears out of a small wooden box. Occasionally, episodes would feature relatives or other members of their weird subculture, such as Cousin Itt (Felix Silla) or Morticia's older sister, Ophelia (also played by Jones).
Much of the humor derives from their culture clash with the rest of the world. They invariably treat normal visitors with great warmth and courtesy, even though their guests often have evil intentions. They are puzzled by the horrified reactions to their (to them) good-natured and normal behavior since they are under the impression that their tastes are shared by most of society. Accordingly they view "conventional" tastes with generally tolerant suspicion. For example, Fester once cites a neighboring family's meticulously maintained petunia patches as evidence that they are "nothing but riff-raff." A recurring theme in the epilogue of many episodes was the Addams Family getting an update on the most recent visitor to their home, either via something in the newspaper or a phone call. Invariably, as a result of their visit to the Addams Family, the visitor would be institutionalized, change professions, move out of the country, or have some other negative life-changing event. The Addams Family would always misinterpret the update and see it as good news for that most recent visitor.
The tone was set by series producer Nat Perrin who was a close friend of Groucho Marx and writer of several Marx Brothers films. Perrin created story ideas, directed one episode, and rewrote every script. Much of the dialog is his (albeit uncredited). As a result, Gomez, with his sardonic remarks, backwards logic, and ever-present cigar (pulled from his breast pocket already lit), could be compared to Groucho Marx. The series often employed the same type of zany satire and screwball humor seen in the Marx Brothers films. It lampooned politics ("Gomez, The Politician" and "Gomez, The People's Choice"), the legal system ("The Addams Family in Court"), Beatlemania ("Lurch, The Teenage Idol"), and Hollywood ("My Fair Cousin Itt").
A reunion film, "Halloween with the New Addams Family", aired on NBC in October 1977 and starred most of the original cast, except for Blossom Rock (Grandmama) who was very ill at the time and was replaced by "Phyllis" actress Jane Rose. Elvia Allman portrayed Grandma Hester "Franny" Frump in the special who was previously played by Margaret Hamilton. On a related note, Parley Baer (who had previously played Mayor Arthur J. Henson in the TV show) portrayed the special's main villain "Bones" Lafferty. The picture also featured extended family members who were created specifically for the .production and had never appeared in the television series, such as Gomez's brother Pancho (played by Henry Darrow) and two additional children, Wednesday Junior and Pugsley Junior. It was originally intended for a pilot for a sequel, but no other episodes were ordered.