The Addams Family Origins
In a 1938 issue of the New Yorker", a cartoon was featured depicting a vacuum cleaner salesman trying to sell his wares to a woman in a dilapitated old Mansion. Behind her stands a bearded fellow, and strange creatures look down from the stairway. This cartoon is the first one featuring the nameless woman who would later be called Morticia. Belief is that the bearded fellow is an early version of Lurch.
It would be a full year later until members of the family were again featured in a cartoon, but each year after that the family seemed to grow. Grandmama made her debut in 1941.
No one can quite put their finger on just what was so compelling about this family, shown in the New Yorker issue after issue. The one thing that WAS clear though was that the family, nameless as it was, was a popular attraction in the magazine. The nameless family would finally catch the eye of a producer named David Levy.
The Classic TV Show:
Charles Addams was approached by Dave Levy, a TV producer for Filmways
and ABC for the rights to air a show based on his highly
praised cartoons. Charles aggreed and set to work, naming the
different characters and giving each a distinctive personality.
Once the characters were properly fleshed out, the job of writing the
scripts was passed to comedic writer, Nat Perrin. As word got out that
ABC had signed the rights for the Addams Family, other
broadcast companies scrambled to find shows to compete. "The
Munsters" were born the same year as the Addams Family
TV show. On September 18, 1964, at 8:30 PM. America was
introduced to the Addams family starring: John Astin as Gomez Addams, Carolyn Jones as Morticia Addams,
and Jackie Coogan as Uncle Fester.
While both shows were consistantly in good ratings, the battle with the Munsters and the strange concepts proved to be unpopular with TV executives for both shows. When The Munsters was canceled in April, 1966, The Addams family followed only two weeks later. After only two seasons and decent but not spectacular ratings both shows were canceled due to "demographics".
The Addams Family and The Munsters, however, found redemption the same way that Star trek had; Syndication.
The Syndicated Addams Family found a new fan base with the Nickelodeon generation. The show was highly rated in almost every time slot it filled. In Australia, the show hit number one in its time slot, beating out longtime winner, "The Wheel of Fortune". This syndication of the Addams Family made possible the spawning of two Saturday morning Cartoon shows, numerous guest spots, a reunion special, and two highly acclaimed Movies. The Addams family would even have a second run On the Fox Family channel, as new stars filled the shoes of Gomez, Morticia, et. al.
The Cartoon Shows:
mornings in the seventies were filled with Cartoons. One of the
highest rated cartoons of the time was Hanna Barberas' "Scooby Doo
Where Are You?". In 1972, The Addams Family appeared as guest of
the spook hunting teens and rated Scooby Doo one of the highest
watched kids shows of the year. No one could have guessed the
appearance would be as well recieved as it was.
In 1973, NBC and Hanna Barbera reintroduced the lovable Family from 001 Cemetery Lane. Jackie Coogan and , Ted Cassidy came back to perform the voices for their former characters. They were joined by, the popular child actress, Jodi Foster as the voice of Pugsley and voice actress Janet Waldo as both Morticia and Granny
As most of the cartoon shows during the seventies, this one had a short life span also. After three time slot changes, and poor advertising, The Addams Family Cartoon was taken off the air in 1974, after only one season.
1992 proved to be a better year for the animated family. John Astin returned as the voice of Gomez. He was accompanied by Rip Taylor as Uncle Fester and Carol Chaning as Grandmama. It also followed after the highly acclaimed movie "The Addams Family." It lasted two seasons and 13 episodes. Lack of promotional toys, however, would drive advertisers away and once again, the Addams Family Cartoon show was pulled from the air.
The Halloween Reunion of 1977:
In 1977, ABC
tried to bring the Addams family back from the grave. Using
much of the original cast (minus Blossom
who was too ill to reprise her role,) the Addams
Family was reunited on Halloween 1977. It was an abysmal failure.
Inability to stay with the continuity of the original show, as well as the attempt to create new family members, ( Pancho, Gomez's long lost Brother) Lack of family cohesiveness and a very un-Addams-like plot killed this reunion before it had a chance to start. According to Jon Davis of The Unofficial Addams Family World Wide Website George Tibbets, the writer for the reunion show had never worked on the Addams Family show before. In fact he was one of the original writers for.. " The Munsters". Poor ratings assured the Original Addams Family of never returning to the small screen. But the Silver Screen was a different story.
The Addams Family Movie of 1991:
Family would find new life in the Theaters in 1991. At a cost of
a mere 30 million, (Enough to make " Orion
Productions " declare bankruptcy) The Addams
Family gave fans a glimpse of the family they had come to love.
With the exeption of "Uncle Fester", originally
Morticia's Uncle, became Gomez's brother in the movie, The show
stayed true to the Original Addams Family created by Charles
Addams. The dark humor, up to and including the children selling
their own brand of Lemonade and dropping hot oil on Christmas
carollers was recreated with the same maniacal, yet, whimsical way
they were presented in the original drawings.
Purchased from Orion Pictures, The Addams Family was a definite a money maker for Paramount Pictures. With Raul Julia as Gomez, Angelica Huston as Morticia, and Christopher Lloyd as Fester, the cast had strong characters. Of much praise however was the portrayal of Pugsley by Jimmy Workman and Wednesday by Christina Ricci. They showed so much promise that they would end up getting the lions share of screen time in the sequel.
Addams Family Values:The Sequel
The Addams Family returned to the theaters in 1993 with Addams Family Values. The cast of the original movie was joined by Joan Cusak as Festers' new wife who is determined to kill him off. Carol Kane replaced Judith Malina in the portrayal of Grandmama. And a new child was introduced. Pubert Pugsley becomes the third child in the Addams Clan and is portrayed by Kaitiyn and Kristen Hooper. The sequel however was a career turning point for Christina Ricci, who recieved most of the major comedic lines in the show. Although not as well received as the first, the movie was still enough of a money maker for Paramount that talk of a third movie was discussed . The death of Raul Julia, in 1994 however, would put to rest any talk of another movie, until 1998.
The Addams Family Reunion Movie, 1998:
September,1998 , Warner Brothers released the third Addams Family
movie , entitled Addams Family Reunion.
It was released only on video and, quite frankly was a poor presentation of what could have been done with the talent involved. Unfortunatley, star talent alone is not enough to save a show. There must be some creativity in the script and a decent editing crew also .. Sadly both were severly lacking this time around. However, a new star might have been born from the ashes. Nicole Fugere debuted as Wednesday Addams and shined above even such big name actors as Tim Curry and Darryl Hannah. ( Although, Carel Struyken stole the show, in my huble opinion). Nicole is also signed to portray Wednesday in the New series, on the Fox Family Channel,
The New Addams Family Series:
1998, Fox Family Channel debuted, along with the New Addams
Family Series. Nicole Fugere returned in her role as Wednesday,
along with a cast of not- well known, but very talented actors.
Glenn Taranto filled the shoes of John Astin, ( Who,
incidentally, guest starred frequently as Grandpa Addams).
Morticia was portrayed by Canadian comedic talent, Ellie Harvey, and Micheal Robards reprised the role of Fester. Filmed in Canada, the producers and writers reworked the classic TV show episodes to update them. The result was a great step into nostalgia with a touch of current events. Critics have agreed that this show was very well done and the talent, superb. Branching out into their own episodes, The New Addams Family Show mirrored the Classic TV series in both run time and ratings. The New show proved to be too costly for the fledgling Television station, and the Addmas Family was shelved, once again in 2000.
Although the new series only ran two seasons, a fan following is slowly building around it. Currently, Many of the stars have their own fan sites on the internet, and The Lurch Files has become a popular hangout for fans and fanatics, and stars alike. Stay tuned to The Lurch Files for more information and episode guides.
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