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The Addams Family

The Addams Family is a fictional family created by American cartoonist Charles Addams. They originally appeared in a series of 150 unrelated single-panel comics, about half of which were originally published in The New Yorker over a 50-year period from their inception in 1938. They have since been adapted to other media, such as television, film, video games, comic books, a musical, and merchandise.

The Addams Family


Outside of The New Yorker, Addams also published several collections, the most notable being Dear Dead Days: A Family Album in 1959. The editor of The New Yorker, William Shawn, prevented any further Addams family cartoons from being printed after the 1964 launch of the television franchise.[3]

Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury created a series of tales chronicling a family of Illinois monsters, the Elliotts, that bear a strong resemblance to the Addams family. These stories were anthologized in From the Dust Returned (2001), with a connecting narrative, an explanation of his work with Addams, and a 1946 illustration Addams drew for Bradbury's short story "Homecoming" in Mademoiselle magazine, the first in the Elliot family series.

The family appears to be a branch of an extensive Addams clan with relatives all over the world. In the original television series they are said to be related to "those one-D Adamses", a fact the family are deeply ashamed of. According to the film version, the family credo is, Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc (pseudo-Latin: "We gladly feast on those who would subdue us"). Charles Addams was first inspired by his hometown of Westfield, New Jersey, an area full of ornate Victorian mansions and archaic graveyards.[6] In the original comics series they live in a gothic house on Cemetery Ridge. According to the television series, the residence is a gloomy mansion adjacent to a cemetery and a swamp located in an unspecified American town. In the musical (first shown in Chicago in 2009), the house is located in Central Park.[7] In the 2019 film, the Addamses live in an abandoned asylum located in the outskirts of the state of New Jersey which is haunted by a disembodied resident who demands the property to remain undisturbed.

Although most of the humor derives from the fact that they share macabre interests, such as putting each other and themselves in the way of bodily harm (none of which seems to have an effect), the Addamses are not evil. They are a close-knit extended family. Morticia is an exemplary mother, and she and Gomez remain passionate towards each other; as established in the television series, she calls him "bubbeleh",[8] to which he responds by kissing her arms, behavior which Morticia can also provoke by speaking a few words in French (their meanings are not important; any words in French will do). The parents are supportive of their children (except in the 2019 film when Wednesday arrives home wearing a pink dress). The family is friendly and hospitable to visitors; in some cases, it is willing to donate large sums of money to causes (television series and films), despite the visitors' horror at the Addamses' peculiar lifestyle. The characters were unnamed until the advent of the 1964 television adaptation, except for Wednesday and Morticia who were first named for a 1962 licensed doll collection.[3]

Gomez and Morticia have had two more children, Wednesday Jr. and Pugsley Jr., who strongly resemble their older siblings. Gomez's brother, Pancho, is staying with the family while Gomez attends a lodge meeting in Tombstone, Arizona. Gomez is jealous of his brother, who once courted Morticia. Halloween is nigh, and Pancho tells the children the legend of the Great Pumpkin-like character of Cousin Shy, who distributes gifts and carves pumpkins for good children on Halloween night. Wednesday (now called "Wednesday, Sr.") is home from music academy, where she is studying the piccolo (breaking glass with it). Pugsley (now "Pugsley, Sr.") is home from Nairobi medical school, where he is training to be a witch doctor. The family's home has been bugged by a gang of crooks which intends to steal the family's fortune. Lafferty, the boss, sends a gang member named Mikey into the house to investigate. Mikey panics and flees after treading on the tail of Kitty Kat the lion. The crooks employ a fake Gomez and Morticia to help them carry out their plans, along with two strong-arm goons, Hercules and Atlas. Gomez returns home to celebrate the Halloween party and trim the scarecrow. Lafferty poses as Quincy Addams (from Boston) to gain entrance to the house during the party. He has his men tie up Gomez and Morticia, and his doubles take their places, confusing Pancho, who is still in love with Morticia, and Ophelia, who is still in love with Gomez. Gomez and Morticia escape (thanks to the "Old Piccolo Game"), and rejoin the party, only to have Lafferty use various methods to try to get rid of them. Lurch scares off the thugs and terrifies Lafferty's other assistant. Fester, trying to be nice, puts Lafferty on the rack. Lafferty tries to escape through the secret passage and steps on Kitty Kat's tail. When the police arrive, the crooks gladly surrender. The Addamses are then free to celebrate Halloween happily, ending the night by singing together in welcome for Cousin Shy.

In 2021, Netflix announced a live-action TV series adaptation based on Wednesday Addams, produced by MGM Television and starring Jenna Ortega as the title character. Alfred Gough and Miles Millar were the showrunners and Tim Burton directed several episodes in his first televised directorial effort.[12] Wednesday, a student at Nevermore Academy, solves mysteries using her psychic ability. These include murders and a 25-year-old mystery involving her family.[13] Luis Guzmán stars as Gomez,[14] and Catherine Zeta-Jones stars as Morticia.[15] In addition, Fred Armisen appears as Uncle Fester, George Burcea as Lurch, Victor Dorobantu as Thing, and Isaac Ordonez as Pugsley. Hunter Doohan, Georgie Farmer, Moosa Mostafa, Emma Myers, Naomi J. Ogawa, Joy Sunday, Percy Hynes White, Thora Birch, Riki Lindhome, Jamie McShane and Gwendoline Christie were also added to the cast as series regulars.[16][17] In March 2022, Christina Ricci, who portrayed Wednesday in The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993), joined the cast as a series regular.[18]

This first novelisation of the television series, written by Jack Sharkey, was released near the end of the show's second season. The book details the family's arrival in their new home and explains how it got its bizarre décor. The arrival and origins of Thing are explained. Each chapter reads as a self-contained story, like episodes of the television show. The novel concludes with the Addams family discovering that their lives will be the basis for a new television series. It was published in paperback by Pyramid Books in 1965.[34]

The family has had a profound influence on American comics, cinema and television,[47][48][49] and it has also been seen as an inspiration for the goth subculture and its fashion.[50][51] According to The Telegraph, the Addamses "are one of the most iconic families in American history, up there with the Kennedys".[52] Similarly, Time has compared "the relevance and the cultural reach" of the family with those of the Kennedys and the Roosevelts, "so much a part of the American landscape that it's difficult to discuss the country's history without mentioning them".[53] For TV Guide, which listed the characters in the top ten of The 60 Greatest TV Families of All Time, the Addamses "provid[ed] the design for cartoonish clans to come, like the Flintstones and the Simpsons".[54] Owing to their popularity, the first feature-length adaptation has been identified as a "cult film",[55] while Addams Family Values was listed as one of The 50 Best family films by The Guardian[56] and nominated for the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Laughs at the turn of the century.[57] Ricci's portrayal of Wednesday in the film series was ranked one of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters by Empire,[58] and in 2011 AOL named Morticia one of The 100 Most Memorable Female TV Characters.[59]

The family is attended by their servants - towering butler Lurch, and Thing, a hand that appears from within wooden boxes and other places. Other relatives who made recurring appearances included Cousin Itt, Morticia's older sister Ophelia, and Morticia's mother Grandma Frump.

Much of the humor derives from the Addamses' culture clash with the rest of the world. They invariably treat normal visitors with great warmth and courtesy, even when the guests express confusion, fear, and dismay at the decor of the house and the sight of Lurch and Thing. Some visitors have bad intentions, which the family generally ignores, and suffer no harm. The Addamses are puzzled by the horrified reactions to their own good-natured and (to them) normal behavior. Accordingly, they view "conventional" tastes with generally tolerant suspicion. Almost invariably, visitors to the Addamses want to leave and never come back.

Series creator David Levy explained the premise of the show to syndicated columnist Erskine Johnson in August 1964: "We have made [the family] full-bodied people, not monsters ... They are not grotesque and hideous manifestations. At the same time we are protecting the images of [Charles] Addams' 'children', as he refers to them. We are living up to the spirit of his cartoons. He is more than just a cartoonist. He's a social commentator and a great wit."[8] The tone was set by series producer Nat Perrin, who was a close friend of Groucho Marx's and writer of several Marx Brothers films. Perrin created story ideas, directed one episode, and rewrote every script. The series often employed the same type of zany satire and screwball humor seen in the Marx Brothers films, in addition to wordplay, physical comedy, and occasionally slapstick. One running gag labeled people who were not members of the family as "strange" or complained of their behavior. Another one was members of the family trading objects when they collided; in "Cousin Itt and the Vocational Counselor", Gomez ends up with Morticia's knitting and Morticia has his cigar. Other running jokes were about strange food and drink, e.g. toadstools and hemlock; bats, the dungeon, the cemetery, and other "creepy" things; and Gomez's glee at losing money on the stock market. It lampooned politics ("Gomez, the Politician" and "Gomez, the People's Choice"); modern art ("Art and the Addams Family" and Morticia's painting in several episodes); Shakespeare and other literature ("My Fair Cousin Itt", and other episodes); the legal system ("The Addams Family in Court"); royalty ("Morticia Meets Royalty"); rock n' roll and Beatlemania ("Lurch, the Teenage Idol"). 041b061a72


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