The dad, Gomez, was a loony millionaire who loved losing money in the stock market. Morticia, the mom, grew a man-eating plant called Cleopatra. Son Pugsley blew up dynamite caps, and daughter Wednesday played with a headless doll named Marie Antoinette. Spooky? Kooky? One might even say altogether ooky.
Like a lot of cult classics, the Addams Family television show turned out to be more successful in syndication than it ever was during its original run. Based on Charles Addams’ cartoons in The New Yorker, the show aired on ABC from September 1964 to September 1966, finishing in 23rd place in the ratings its first season, behind the competition — CBS’ similarly ghoulish sitcom The Munsters. But the years have been kind to Gomez, Morticia, and their brood (Addams gave them their monikers for the TV show; they had no names in his cartoons). Today, 25 years after its debut, the show is still being shown in more than 30 markets across the country, watched by hundreds of thousands every week.
Time, however, has been less gracious to the cast. Only four of the original eight members are still alive. Blossom Rock, who played Grandmama Addams, died in 1978, at age 82. Lumbering Ted Cassidy, who played Lurch and Thing (the hand), died after open-heart surgery in 1979, at 46. Former leading lady Carolyn Jones (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), who starred as Morticia, died of cancer in 1983, at 54. And former child actor Jackie Coogan (The Kid), who played Uncle Fester, died of a heart attack in 1984, at 69.
Is there an Addams Family curse at work here? ”I hope not,” says the original Gomez, 61-year-old John Astin. ”I’m feeling fine.”
Astin has kept busy during his post-Addams years, doing guest spots on dozens of TV series (Night Court, Webster, The Facts of Life), and making occasional forays onto the stage (the current Los Angeles production of Lend Me a Tenor) and the big screen (he plays evil Doctor Gangrene in the comedy The Killer Tomato Eats France, due in theaters this June). He was also frequent tabloid fodder from 1973 to 1985, when he was married to TV star Patty Duke.
Lisa Loring, 33, who played Wednesday, has kept busy too: She married and had a baby at 16, divorced at 17, and made a TV comeback at 22 as the ”troubled teen” Cricket Montgomery on As the World Turns. Today she lives in L.A. with her third husband, former porn star Paul Siederman (known professionally as Jerry Butler).
Ken Weatherwax, 36, who played chubby big brother Pugsley (Addams’ original name choice, Pubert, was nixed by the network), is currently a key grip, working behind the camera on shows like The Facts of Life.
The last Addams Family survivor is Felix Silla, the Italian midget who played the show’s mischievous ball of fur, Cousin Itt (or It, as it’s spelled in the movie). Silla was last seen in the early ’80s series Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century, starring as the pint-size robot, Twiki.
In short, don’t expect an Addams Family TV reunion anytime soon.