A history of the Addams Family

By: Bijou Kruszka

The Addams Family: everyone has heard of them. With its distinct characters and deadpan, dark humor, the franchise has certainly cemented its place in popular culture. For those unfamiliar, the Addams Family consists of Gomez, the sword-wielding father; Morticia, the dark, seductive mother; Wednesday, the sarcastic daughter; Pugsley, the pain-tolerant brother; Fester, the eccentric uncle; Grandma, the kooky old lady; Lurch, the zombie butler; and Cousin It, a literal ball of hair. So, needless to say, there’s a lot of oddities to be found in these characters. However, they’ve been through a lot of different variations.

While most people think of the Addams family as characters from the silver screen, they actually started off as comic characters. The Addams Family debuted in 1938, as the creation of cartoonist Charles Addams. They appeared in single-panel comics in the publication ‘The New Yorker’. Looking at these comics, it is very clear to see the origin of these characters. However, originally they had no names or dialogue, only known as the Addams family because they were drawn by Charles Addams. Charles Addams drew 150 Addams Family comics in his lifetime.

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Inspired by Addams’s comics, David Levy brought the Addams Family to television. Premiering on September 18th, 1964, this version of the Addams family created the characters we know and love today. Their dark sense of humor and macabre personalities captured the attention of many viewers. Plus, the TV show debuted the iconic, snapping theme song, composed by Vic Mizzy. Every Friday night at 8:30pm, viewers everywhere would tune in to watch the odd sitcom. The show ran on ABC for 64 episodes, plus a holiday special, concluding in 1967.

image taken from: https://www.imdb.com/title/

After the end of the television show, the Addams Family went relatively silent until 1991, when Paramount released the film ‘The Addams Family’. The film was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and starred Anjelica Huston, Christina Ricci, Raul Julia and Christopher Lloyd. The plot follows a doppelgänger of Fester trying to infiltrate the Addams family. It was relatively well-received with audiences and critics alike, and led to a sequel in 1993: ‘Addams Family Values’. The main cast from the previous film returned, along with famed actress Joan Cusack. There was also a straight-to-DVD movie ‘Addams Family Reunion’, which replaced Raul Julia with Tim Curry. The film series is probably the most well-known and iconic piece of the franchise.

Image taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

In 2019, another Addams Family movie was released, but this time the family was animated. The character designs drew heavily from the comics, but they were updated to make it three-dimensional. The movie featured a star-studded cast, with celebrities like Nick Kroll, Finn Wolfhard, Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, and Bette Midler all lending their voices. The movie led to mediocre critical reviews, but grossed $200 million in the box office. So, in 2021, ‘The Addams Family 2’ was released, which followed the family on a road trip. It received much less favorable reviews, and grossed $120 million.

Image taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki

Most recently, Netflix released the series ‘Wednesday’. Where Wednesday differs from previous adaptations is the significant lack of the rest of the Addams family. It only focuses on Wednesday, as she attends a mysterious boarding school. It still manages to keep the deadpan tone of the Addams family though. Directed by Tim Burton and starring Jenna Ortega, this series rose to unprecedented popularity through TikTok, becoming a viral hit with teens everywhere.

The final adaptation on this list is the Addams Family musical. Premiering on Broadway in 2010, this show keeps the macabre humor that the Addams family is known for, adds a musical twist, and is overall an incredibly fun watch. If you want to watch something related to the Addams family soon, you’re in luck. Highland Park’s very own production of ‘The Addams Family’ is opening on April 20th at 7pm. The other showtimes are April 21st at 7pm, and April 22nd at 2pm and 7pm. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults. Everyone involved in the production has worked very hard to make it a good one, and we hope to see you there!

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