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The Addams Family

From Academic Kids

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Four major characters from the original television adaptation: Thing (foreground) with Uncle Fester, Morticia and Gomez Addams

The Addams Family is the creation of American cartoonist Charles Addams. They are a bizarre family who delight in all things macabre and are never really aware of why people find them frightening.

Addams's cartoons in The New Yorker magazine gained popularity in the 1930s. Addams was noted for his morbid sense of humor, and over the years various bizarre people and creatures who lived in a huge decaying Victorian Gothic house became recurring characters.

Contents

Premise

The Addamses are the descendants of a very long line of witches, serial killers, freaks, ghouls, and other assorted social outcasts and monsters. The family that the cartoons, movies, and shows are based around are said to be but one surviving branch of the Addams clan. Many other "Addams families" exist all over the world.

Gomez Addams studied to be a lawyer, but rarely practises while taking absurd pride in losing his cases. He is wealthy from inheritance and extensive investments, though seems to have little regard for money. Gomez is of Castillian origin and loves to smoke cigars and play destructively with his model trains. Though head of the household, he is also the most nave and childish member of the family, with a short attention span and endless optimism. Gomez is married to Morticia Addams (ne Frump), a vampish woman who dresses only in black. She too comes from a long line of maniacs and monsters.

Gomez and Morticia have two children, Pugsley and Wednesday. Wednesday, whose middle name is Thursday, was orginally -- as her name suggests -- a quiet, somewhat pathetic child, full of woe. In the TV show she was a sweet-natured, happy child, largely concerned with her pet spiders. The movies gave her yet another personality, serious and with a deadpan wit, and a morbid fascination with trying to murder her brother. She is apparently often successful, but Pugsley never dies. Like most members of the family he seems to live in a semi-immortal state. For his part, Pugsley is largely either oblivious to the harm his sister tries to inflict on him, or is an enthusiastic supporter of it. Pugsley's first incarnation, orginally called Pubert, was that of the ultimate demon child next door. In the show, he was a devoted older brother and an inventive and mechanical genius, although his brilliance was lost in the movies, in which he appears to be of below average intelligence. In Addams Family Value, Gomez and Morticia had a third son, also named Pubert, a moustachioed and seemingly indestructible baby with the ability to breathe flaming arrows.

Other members of the family who live with Gomez and Morticia include Uncle Fester and Grandmama. In the television series, Fester was Morticia's uncle, and therefore technically not an Addams, although at times he claims the family name as his own. In the movies, Fester became Gomez's older brother, and therefore the uncle of Wednesday and Pugsly. Grandmama is Gomez's mother in the TV series.

The family has a pet disembodied hand named "Thing" and a tall, ghoulish manservant named Lurch. Gomez's cousin Itt often visits the family. He is a four-foot (~1.22 m) tall hairball who speaks in a squeakish language that only the family understands. Other guests include Morticia's older sister Ophelia (also played by Carolyn Jones) and Morticia's mother, Hester Frump (played by Margaret Hamilton, best known for her portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz). Mentioned, but not shown, are the Addamses' many eccentric cousins.

The Addamses are a close-knit and loving family. Morticia and Gomez remain passionately in love, and are deeply concerned with the well-being of their children. Though they all share an obsession and interest in death, dying, and other gothic and macabre subjects, the Addamses are not evil people, and usually restrict their ghoulish activities to within their own family. Most of the Addamses' neighbours are less than understanding, however. Within the larger community, the Addamses are viewed as oddballs, dangerous, or worse. Both the TV shows and movies deal with outsiders attempting to understand and "correct" the behavior of the family, and remain frustrated and horrified by the things that the Addamses find amusing. The Addamses for their part are just the opposite, and are often shocked and horrified at the actions of "mainstream" society. The underlying moral premise of the series thus seems to be a message against being judgmental and trying to impose universal standards of morality.

Television and film

In the 1960s a network television series was spawned with actors playing characters from Addams cartoons, entitled The Addams Family. The television show originally ran from 1964 to 1966, and has been widely syndicated. The Munsters, which shared a similar gothic look but featured broader humor, was contemporary with The Addams Family.

In the 1990s this concept was developed into a film, The Addams Family (1991), and a sequel, Addams Family Values (1993). The latter title is a piece of word play on family values, the Addamses seeming to represent values the polar opposite from the term's usual meaning (in fact, the Addams exhibit many laudable values; in particular, they are a close-knit, loving family). In addition, loosened content restrictions allowed the films to use far more grotesque humour that strove to keep the original spirit of the Addams cartoons.

A third film, Addams Family Reunion, was released direct-to-video in 1998. It is largely unrelated to the first two films, sharing only Struckyen as Lurch with the earlier cast and production team, and lacks their dark tone.

Two animated television spin-offs have also been produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions; the first ran from 1973-1975 on NBC, and the second ran from 1992-1995 on ABC. The Addams Family also appeared in the third episode of Hanna-Barbera's The New Scooby-Doo Movies in 1972. A second live-action version (The New Addams Family), produced and shot in Canada, ran during the 1998-1999 season on Fox Family.

Four video games released from 1989 to 1994 were based on The Addams Family. Fester's Quest (1989) was a top-down shooter that featured Uncle Fester. The platformers The Addams Family (1992) and its sequel The Addams Family: Pugsley's Scavenger Hunt (1993) by Ocean Software were based on the movie. Addams Family Values (1994) by Ocean was based on the movie's sequel.

Cast

  • Gomez Addams (played by John Astin in the 1960s show, Ral Juli and then Tim Curry in the 1990s movies)
    • Gomez Addams is Morticia's husband and the Addams Family head. Originally Granny's son, this was retconned later on to make him Granny's son-in-law. His brother-in-law is Uncle Fester. He is portrayed as the ideal man: charming, handsome (in a gothic sort of way), and successful, yet takes a childlike eccentric enthusiasm to everything he does. For instance, his personal portrait depicts him as standing gleefully on his head. Generally he dresses in a dark pinstriped suit with short, slicked-back hair. He sports a pencil-thin mustache. Though a peaceful man he is known to be well-versed in many types of combat. His endless love for Morticia shows that while the family is strange, they are good people on the inside.
  • Morticia Addams (Carolyn Jones in the show, Anjelica Huston and Daryl Hannah in the movies)
    • Morticia Addams is the second head of the Addams Family, serving as its heart and soul. Her original mother was Hester Frump (played by Margaret Hamilton in the show), but her origins were later retconned and she became Granny's daughter. (Granny subsequently became known as Esmerelda Frump) Morticia has a twin sister named Ophelia. Her marriage brought her uncle Fester Addams into the family, and she is Wednesday and Pugsley's mother. She has pale skin and dresses very gothically, generally in long black dresses. She is portrayed as elegant, artistic, and musically inclined.
  • Grandmama (Blossom Rock in the show, Judith Malina in the 1991 movie, Carol Kane in the 1993 movie)
    • Grandmama is first known as Eudora Addams (Gomez's and Fester's mother). Later on she was retconned to be Esmerelda Frump (Morticia's mother). Grandmama is a witch who deals in potions, spells and hexes of all kinds. She even dabbles in fortune-telling. Granny often argues with Fester, and wins. Her trademarks are her shawl and frizzy hair.
  • Lurch (Ted Cassidy in the show, Carel Struycken in the movies)
    • Lurch is the shambling, groaning, eight-foot-tall Frankenstein-like butler to the Addams family. He tries to help around the house like any other butler, though occasionally he botches things up due to his great size and strength. Besides a headless doll named Marie, he is Wednesday's best friend. Surprisingly, he is often seen playing the harpsichord with a great degree of skill. Gomez or Morticia can summon him with an ever-present bellpull with the end tied in a hangman's knot. When pulled, it produces a loud gong noise that shakes the house which Lurch will always instantly respond to. (Generally with the line, "You rang?") Much of Lurch's history, including his last name or the nature of his relationship to any other Addamses is unknown.
  • Thing (Ted Cassidy's hand in the show, except when on screen at the same time when Jack Voglin would take over the role, Christopher Hart's hand in the movies)
    • Thing is a disembodied hand. Was always credited as played by "?" in the TV series, where he would appear out of ubiquitous boxes or other convenient containers throughout the house. In the movies, Thing is an entirely mobile hand.

Trivia

In Addams's original cartoons, the characters were not named. When the television show was developed, Addams was asked to contribute names, and all of his suggestions were used except for Pubert, who was renamed Pugsley. The name Pubert was eventually used in Addams Family Values.

External links

de:The Addams Family fr:La Famille Addamsja:アダムス・ファミリー

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