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How the Addams Family Changed Through the Years

The Addams Family television show which hit the air on ABC in 1964 is one of the most enduring pieces of pop culture to come out of the mid-20th century. This ooky, kooky, and ever-so spooky family of oddballs made a significant impact on culture and society; at large that hasn’t diminished in the least bit as time has passed. If anything, The Addams Family and the franchise that it has spawned is more popular today than it’s ever been.

What started as a comic strip written by Charles Addams for the New Yorker back in 1938; has now grown into a full-fledged media empire. In addition to that iconic 60s TV show and the two hit sequel films of the 1990s. The Addams brood, which is made up of Gomez and Morticia and their children Wednesday and Pugsley; have also been featured in video games, two animated series, and most recently in two big-budget computer-animated films.

Join us we take a look back in time at the various incarnations of The Addams Family over the years from that simple comic strip that first hit newsstands over 80 years ago to the most recent addition of The Addams Family 2 which hit theaters on October 1, 2021. If you fancy yourself a fan of The Addams Family, you won’t want to miss this fascinating video.

The Addams Family Comic Strip – 1938

A lot of people subscribe to the false notion that The Addams Family got it’s start as a television show in the 60s. But the first time that they appeared was actually in a series of comic strips that were published in The New Yorker back in 1938.

The Addams Family was the creation of Charles Addams; A freelance cartoonist who was born in 1912 to parents Charles Huey Addams, a piano executive, and his wife Grace M. Spear Addams. Reportedly, Charles based the character Morticia Addams slender appearance on his first life; Barbara Jean Day, whom he married to from 1942 to 1950.

Charles’ second wife, Estelle Barb, was a lawyer who notoriously tricked her husband into signing away the television and film rights to his Addams Family characters. He and Estelle went through a fairly ugly divorce in 1956.

Charles later married his third wife, Marilyn Matthews Miller, and moved to Sagaponack; New York, in the mid-80s, where they settled into an estate that was endearingly nicknamed ‘The Swamp’.

Addams passed away on September 29, 1988; at the age of 76 after having a heart attack while parking his car. Per his wishes, Charles’ ashes were interred in the pet cemetery at ‘The Swamp’.

Charles’ cartoons regularly appeared in The New Yorker, and throughout his life, he drew more than 1,300 cartoons. In addition to The Addams Family, Charles also created the syndicated single-panel comic, Out Of This World, which ran in the paper from 1955 to 1957.

The First Addams Family Television Series – 1964 to 1966

ABC was the first television network to take the characters that Charles Addams had created and bring them to life on the TV screen. The Addams Family ran for two seasons and pitched itself as a spooky yet wholesome sitcom that explored the many adventures and escapades of the titular family as they clashed with the sensibilities of the outside world.

The series not only starred all of the characters that featured in Charles Addams comic strip. Including Gomez, Morticia, Pugsley, Wednesday, Grandmama, Lurch, Uncle Fester and Thing, but it also introduced the world to that catchy, finger-snappy, theme song which written by Vic Mizzy.

Scooby-Doo Meets The Addams Family – 1972

After The Addams Family ABC offering wrapped up in 1966. The iconic family didn’t make a return to TV until six years later in 1972, when they guest-starred in one of The New Scooby-Doo Movies which produced by Hanna-Barbera.

In the animated film Scooby-Doo Meets the Addams Family, which is known as Wednesday is Missing, Scooby and his merry band of meddling kids get duped into babysitting Wednesday and Pugsley while Gomez and Morticia go off on a second honeymoon getaway.

Scooby, Shaggy, and the gang ran into trouble, however, when Wednesday went missing from her family’s gothic manor. Of course, in the end, they found her and as always there’s a big-reveal moment when it discovered that housekeepers and a mysterious villain named The Vulture were behind her disappearance.

The Addams Family Fun-House – 1973

ABC produced a pilot for an Addams Family variety show in 1973 which they recast every role. Jack Riley and Liz Torres, the lead writers of the special, played Gomez and Morticia. Fester played by Stubby Kaye, Pat McCormick portrayed Lurch, and Butch Patrick selected to play Pugsley. Patrick had previously played little Eddie Munster on The Munsters. A similarly themed sitcom that ran around the same time as the original Addams Family series and received higher ratings. While the producers of the show hoped that it would get picked up and turned into a series, it only ended up airing as a one-off special.

The First Addams Family Hanna-Barbera Animated Series – 1973

That Scooby-Doo Addams Family crossover television movie was so popular that Hanna-Barbera decided to give the Addams their very own animated series in 1973. The show was on the air for only one season and it revolved around the Addams clan embarking on a cross-country road trip in their appropriately named Creepy Camper. While the show is all-but-forgotten these days, it did include voice work from a young Jodie Foster who was just 11-years-old when she provided the voice for Pugsley.

Halloween With The New Addams Family – 1977

Here we have a special reunion of the original cast of the 1963 series that broadcast on NBC in 1977; 11 years after the series given the ax so-to-speak. Everyone reprised their roles with the exception of Blossom Rock who had played Grandmama Addams. She couldn’t rejoin the cast as she’s very ill at the time and died shortly after it’s initial broadcast.

Halloween With The New Addams Family made-for-TV movie that released just in time for Halloween. In it, Wednesday and Pugsley were all grown up which allowed for an older Loring and Weathermax to also make appearances.

The plot involved Gomex and Morticia getting targeted by a band of thieves while Gomez feuded with his older brother Pancho.

The Addams Family – 1991

The Addams Family intellectual property untouched throughout the 1980s, and Charles Addams passed away in 1988 at the age of 78. Following his death, rumors started going around that a reboot of the 1963 television series. 15 years after that Addams Family Halloween reunion in 1977. The family returned once again in Barry Sonnenfeld’s 1991 feature film. The film had a massive $30 million budget and starred Raul Julia as Gomez; Anjelica Huston as Morticia, Christina Ricci as Wednesday, Jimmy Workman as Pugsley, Christopher Lloyd as Fester, Judith Malina as Grandmama and Carel Struycken as Lurch.

The film was a massive success both at the box office and by critics and audiences alike. Worldwide, the film grossed $191 million at the box office and it spawned a new cartoon series. Which we’ll discuss in a moment, and several video games.

For a lot of Addams Family fans, this film is one of the best incarnations of the franchise because of how adeptly it adapted it’s subject material and characters to the modern world. The production values were stellar, the cast was strong, and it was genuinely funny.

The Addams Family: The Animated Series – 1992 to 1993

After the success of The Addams Family film, a brand new animated series developed and broadcast on ABC. Once again the cartoon produced by the animation gurus over at Hanna-Barbera. and John Astin brought in to provide the voice for Gomez.

Nancy Linari played Morticia, Rip Taylor voiced Fester, Carol Channing portrayed Grandmama, Jim Cummings played Lurch, Debi Derryberry’s voice used for Wednesday and Jeannie Elias played Pugsley. The animated series ran for two seasons and involved the family getting all caught up in their usual shenanigans at their estate.

Addams Family Values – 1993

Barry Sonnenfeld returned to his director’s chair once again for this sequel to the 1991 Addams Family film. After Morticia gave birth to the newest member of the family, Pubert, Gomez and his wife hire a nanny named Debbie who ends up being a money-hungry serial killer.

Debbie ships Pugsley and Wednesday off to a summer camp while trying to seduce Uncle Fester in hopes of making off with his riches.

Addams Family values didn’t do quite as well as it’s predecessor at the box office. So naturally, the studio wasn’t particularly eager to make a third installment. Sadly, Raule Julia passed away in 1994 after having a stroke. If he hadn’t died so abruptly, it’s possible that a third film would have eventually made.

Addams Family Reunion – 1998

While often mistakenly considered the third Addams Family film, this straight-to-video feature-length offering actually intended as a pilot for a new sitcom based on the franchise. Tim Curry played Gomez – which is one of the only redeeming qualities of this otherwise dismal release. The rest of the cat, however, as well as the film’s plot, left much to desire. It was so awful, in fact, that we’re just going to leave it at that and move on.

The Addams Family: Animated Movies – 2019 and 2021

In 2010, Illumination Entertainment obtained the rights to The Addams Family and at first they intended on making a stop-motion animated film based on Charles Addams’ original comic strips. At one point, Tim Burton rumored to produce and direct this feature, but the project scrapped in 2013.

Later that year, word started spreading that Pamela Pettler; who previously worked on Corpse Bride and Monster House, rewriting the film’s script. But nothing more heard about the tentative project for several years.

In 2019, Universal Pictures finally brought the Addams Family to a whole new generation of children with their box-office smash computer-animated film. This new incarnation of The Addams family featured a star-studded cast that included the likes of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, and Snoop Dogg.

In October of 2021, The Addams Family 2 hit theaters and featured many of the same voice talents that had worked on the previous film. So far, the film has grossed $95 million worldwide against a budget of $47 million.

The Addams Family Remarkable Franchise

It’s pretty remarkable how The Addams Family franchise has been going strong for so many years. The Addams’ have been a part of our world for more than 80 years. And it’s looking like they could very easily be culturally relevant for another 80 years. Or so if they keep reinventing themselves every few years as they have up to this point.

What was your favorite incarnation of The Addams Family? And, do you think The Addams Family will continue to be a successful franchise in the future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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