For many, The Addams Family is remembered as the two 1990’s dark comedy movies starring Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, and Christina Ricci. But it actually has a much older history. It originally began as a cartoon by Charles Addams in The New Yorker, which then became a fixture in American pop culture when it was adapted into a television show, from 1964 to 1966.
While the series only lasted two seasons, several of the cast members moved on with successful careers, while others, not so much. Escaping the ties of the eccentric Addams Family proved difficult. Join us as we take a look at what became of The Addams Family cast members.
Carolyn Jones, Morticia Addams
Academy Award winning actress Carolyn Jones, had a film career many actors would die for, having worked with everyone from Hitchcock to Elvis to Sinatra. But it was playing Morticia Addams that was the apex of her career. This is high praise considering she went on to play over thirty more roles after the show concluded. The most memorable of these roles included Queen Hippolyta on Wonder Woman, Queen of Diamonds for five episodes of Batman, and Chuck Connors’ wife on Roots. Jones suffered from colon cancer. Her final role was Myrna Clegg, on the soap opera Capitol. In 1983 she unfortunately succumbed to the cancer. She was fifty years old.
Ted Cassidy, Lurch & Thing
At six foot, nine inches tall, actor Ted Cassidy was a unique individual indeed. The roles of Lurch and Thing were Cassidy’s first acting parts. Lurch in particular was one he had hoped to not be forever defined by. Due to this, it was a relief for Cassidy when the show was cancelled. His career became all about erasing Lurch, but the butler proved to be hard to shake from the public consciousness.
Cassidy filled his 20 year career with many roles that usually related to his tall frame and stature. On The Six Million Dollar Man, he took over from Andre the Giant to play Bigfoot, he also starred opposite Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and narrated The Incredible Hulk TV series. Sadly, life was cut short for Cassidy after complications from heart surgery, he died at age forty six in 1979.
Jackie Coogan, Uncle Fester
Named the greatest boy actor in the world, Jackie Coogan’s star burned bright in the 1920s. He starred alongside Charlie Chaplin in 1921’s The Kid. His fame quickly plummeted however when he reached his 20s. His mother married his business manager and together they withheld the millions he’d earned from his work. Coogan sued which resulted in the Coogan Law, which protects child actors and their earnings.
It was four decades later that Coogan would reclaim his long lost fame. He played the strange Uncle Fester, which garnered him new fans. But Coogan struggled to come to terms with the fact that he was once the most beautiful child in the world, and now a hideous monster. Consistently working into his late sixties, he appeared on shows like, I Dream of Jeannie, The Brady Bunch, and Hawaii Five-0. In 1984 he died of cardiac arrest, at the age of sixty nine.
Ken Weatherwax, Pugsley Addams
Ken Weatherwax, who was cast as Gomez and Morticia’s one and only son Pugsley, avoided going out in public due to his sudden fame. Once the show was cancelled, he was kicked out of several schools due to troubled behaviour. This led him to joining the Army in order to avoid the Youth Offenders Program. After his service, he returned to Hollywood, this time behind the camera. He worked as a grip and set builder. He grew to accept his fame and returned to the role of Pugsley in the 1977 Halloween special. Ken appreciated the love and attention of his fans, and when he passed away of a heart attack in 2014, there were two funerals. One for his family, and the other for his fans. He was fifty nine years old.
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Blossom Rock, Grandmama
Stardom arrived at age sixty nine for Blossom Rock. With a fright wig that took an hour to put on, and a pound of make-up, Rock transformed into Pugsley and Wednesday’s dear ol’ Grandmama. Rock’s moment in the spotlight didn’t last long however. She suffered a stroke and lost her speech in 1966. She retired to the Motion Picture Country House and passed away twelve years later, at the age of eighty two, in 1978.
Felix Silla, Cousin Itt
The three foot, eleven inch Felix Silla’s first major role required him to hide behind the pint sized ball of hair of the Addams’ beloved Cousin Itt. From working on the show, small parts in big productions were aplenty for Silla. These included such TV shows and films as Planet of the Apes, Battlestar Galactica, E.T., Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, and Spaceballs. Silla often attended fan conventions and played Nevada clubs with his own musical combo, The Original Harmonica Band. He died on April 16th of this year, from cancer. He was eighty four years old.
Parley Baer, Mayor Arthur J. Henson
Parley Baer claims the most guest appearances of any actor on The Addams Family, as Arthur J. Henson. Baer took roles on many TV shows thereafter, including Hogan’s Heroes, The Dukes of Hazzard, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He also appeared in multiple movies from License to Drive, to 1993’s, Dave. Baer suffered a stroke in 1997, and later died from complications of another stroke in 2002. He was eighty eight years old.
Vito Scotti, Sam Picasso / Professor Altshuler / Miri Haan
Vito Scotti, famed with hundreds of acting roles, was seen in four episodes of The Addams Family. This included two turns as Sam Picasso, and later, he joined the Halloween special. Scotti would often play multiple roles on a single show, while doing this on The Addams Family, he did the same for Gilligan’s Island, The Magical World of Disney, and Fantasy Island. He voiced the Italian cat in Disney’s The Aristocats, and may be most recognisable as the old world baker friend of Don Corleone in The Godfather. His last film role was opposite John Travolta in the 1995 movie, Get Shorty. He died a year later of cancer, at the age of seventy eight.
Eddie Quillan, Joe Digby / Clyde Arbogast / Horace Beesley / George Bass
Eddie Quillan played multiple characters on The Addams Family. For two episodes, he played insurance agent Joe Digby. Since the show, Quillan had a steady career over the next twenty years starring in a variety of television entertainment. This included a role on Little House on the Prairie, and The A-Team. After retirement, he enjoyed a quieter life of golf, bowling and swimming, before dying of cancer, at the age of eighty three.
Allyn Joslyn, Sam Hillard
Allyn Joslyn joined The Addams Family show in the very first episode, playing Hillard three times. Most of Joslyn’s work predates the show, where he appeared on Broadway, radio, TV and film. In 1981, Joslyn died of cardiac failure at the age of seventy nine.
Margaret Hamilton, Granny Frump
Originally up for the role of Grandmama Addams, but turned it down, Margaret Hamilton instead took on the role of Morticia and Ophelia’s mother Hester Frump. The actress who gained silver screen immortality portraying the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard Oz, kept busy since The Addams Family in shows like The Partridge Family, and the TV movie Letters from Frank. Hamilton passed away in 1985. She was eighty two years old.
Fortunately, there are two Addams Family cast members that are still with us. Let’s take a quick look at what they got up to since the show’s ending, and what they’re doing today.
John Astin, Gomez Addams
When the series came to its sudden end, John Astin was quick to find work. The following year he famously faced off against Adam West’s Batman as the criminal mastermind, The Riddler. In 1968, Astin directed and starred in the short film Prelude, which was nominated for an Academy Award. But Astin never truly left the Addams. He once again played Gomez for a 1977 Halloween special, an early ’90s cartoon series, and then the role of Grandpapa in the series, The New Addams Family which aired from 1998 to 1999.
Lisa Loring, Wednesday Addams
Child model Lisa Loring was cast as Wednesday Addams out of seventy five other young girls. At the time, she didn’t even know how to read. After the show ended, Loring’s time off-screen wasn’t improved by her new fame. She was bullied by her classmates, which led to her vowing that she’d never act again. A decade later, Loring broke her vow by joining the cast in the TV special Halloween with the New Addams Family. While she continued to act, Loring dealt with many obstacles, she became a single mother at seventeen, had four divorces and battled a heroin addiction. Now, she delights her Addams Family fans by attending various conventions.
Who was your favorite character from the 1960’s show or member of the Addams Family cast? Or were you a bigger fan of one of the other many incarnations of The Addams Family universe?
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