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The Addams Family: Freaky Facts Fans Need To Know About The Classic TV Series

Television shows don't get creepier and kookier than the classic "The Addams Family” series. Based on Charles Addams' cartoons for The New Yorker, the 1964 show had one foot in the witch's cauldron and the other in side-splitting hilarity as it found the perfect merger of horror comedy. Despite it being a different era in entertainment, "The Addams Family" managed to carve out its niche audience and to stand out from the rest of the sitcoms of the time. PopMatters argues it was the show's originality and "ability to challenge the perception of normality" that drew the viewers in and kept them invested. Think about it: The Addams were actually good and accommodating people, though their neighbors weren't often able to overcome their façade of eccentricity and ghoulishness.

"The Addams Family" series didn't only become a worldwide sensation, it set the tone for the franchise moving forward. Thanks to the popularity and goodwill of the show, it led to animated series, live-action films, video games, and even a Netflix spinoff titled "Wednesday." As a franchise, it has existed since 1939 (via The New York Times), and it doesn't look like it'll be going away any time soon.

That said, the classic show still holds a special kind of magic and charm. It's mysterious and spooky when it needs to be, but it's altogether ooky as well. Simply put, it's "The Addams Family." So let's find out more about the classic TV series.

John Astin nearly played another role on The Addams Family

When it comes to Gomez Addams, there are two names who immediately come to mind: John Astin and Raul Julia. Both actors helped to shape the beloved character with a snappy dress style, a delightful mustache, and total devotion to his wife and family. Considering the Addamses never had first names before the television series aired, the classic show all but shaped who they were and how they would behave going forward. However, it could have been very different had Astin been cast for the original role he was earmarked for.

Speaking to The A.V. Club, the actor explained how he wasn't required to audition because of his status at the time. It also helped that he was familiar with "The Addams Family," since he had collected Charles Addams' cartoons when he was in college, so he was excited to be a part of the show. The role he was initially pitched was that of Lurch — which Astin admitted seemed daunting. This plan changed, though, after producer and show creator David Levy contacted Astin with another suggestion.

"He said, 'This show is really 'Father Knows Best' with different people ... And I want you to be the father. And then we'll cast the rest of it,'" Astain said. "So we discussed it further, and I realized that I could make up a character, because there were really only a couple of clues from Charles [Addams' cartoons]."

How Wednesday Addams got her name

Born on a Monday. Christened on Tuesday. Named after Wednesday? Naming a child Wednesday isn't the most outrageous parental act ever committed — after all, there are some celebrity kids out there who have better monikers than many "Star Wars" characters. That said, the case of Wednesday Addams is intriguing, because it now seems like a fitting name for her personality and appearance, but one has to wonder who came up with the idea to name her after a weekday in the first place.

According to a letter sent to The New Yorker, Joan Blake claimed credit for the name after a chance encounter with Charles Addams at a mutual friend's party in the '60s. "He made me laugh and told me that the Addams Family was being made into a television show, and that he had no name for the little girl," Blake wrote. "I said, 'Wednesday — Wednesday's child is full of woe.' And Wednesday became her name."

According to H. Kevin Miserocchi's "The Addams Family: An Evilution" (via The A.V. Club), Blake's story does check out, as Addams mentioned it was a friend who suggested Wednesday after reciting the line from the nursery rhyme "Monday's Child."

David Levy claimed Charles Addams liked The Addams Family TV series

There are many creators who despise adaptations of their work. Take author Alan Moore as a perfect example. He has never had a nice word to say about any adaptations of his comic book stories. In fact, he even drew the ire of showrunner Damon Lindelof after Moore denounced the "Watchmen" television series. According to "The Addams Family" producer David Levy, Charles Addams was nothing but supportive of the classic television series.

Writing for The Los Angeles Times, Levy stated the following: "In 1964, at Christmastime, Charles Addams wrote to me that the TV series was 'a stylish, great show.' In 1986, two years before he died, he wrote to me again stating that he still viewed the series with 'satisfaction.'" However, Levy doesn't believe Addams would have looked at the live-action films quite as fondly, believing they missed the mark of what "The Addams Family" was really about. Of course this is simply Levy's thoughts and opinion on the matter, because Addams passed away in 1988 (via The New York Times) which was three years before the film was released. Perhaps if Addams had still been alive, he might have had some input in the final product.

Cousin Itt was created for The Addams Family TV series

Look, let's not sugarcoat this: Snoop Dogg voicing Cousin Itt in "The Addams Family" animated films is simply god-tier casting. Considering Itt has always been the coolest and freshest member of the Addams clan, it only makes sense to have Snoop blazing a new trail for the hairy character. However, Itt is a character that didn't make his debut in Charles Addams' cartoons, but rather the classic television series.

As per The Los Angeles Times, actor Felix Silla, who played Cousin Itt, said, "A producer dreamed it up in some nightmare." Silla's sole purpose was to walk around in costume for the scenes that required him, while the lines for the character would be dubbed in later on in the post-production process. There was one problem, though: Silla's costume was made from real hair, which made it extremely heavy and dangerous since everyone on set liked to smoke. Fearful that he might be set on fire one day, the producers changed his costume to a much safer option, which featured synthetic, fireproof hair.

The Addams house actually existed

The Addams house has become a critical part of any version of the spooky family. In various interpretations, it has taken the shape of a mysterious haunted mansion, and the classic television series employed a similar approach as well. While most of the action took place inside the home, which was shot in a studio set, the outside of the house featured in the show's intro, publicity photos, and the first episode. It would have been possible to utilize a model house for the footage, but there was an actual Addams house in Los Angeles, California — well, for a short while at least.

As per 21 Chester Place, a website that covers the history of this famous property, the production company used the house for stock footage. Since the company didn't own the property, it employed an effects studio to add the necessary details to the footage and photographs. At the same time, a matte painting of the house was created, which could be modified when necessary. Unfortunately, the fabled Addams house no longer exists, as it was demolished in 1967.

Lurch was Ted Cassidy's first TV role after his basketball career

Lurch might look all doom and gloom, as if someone stole his secret stash of chocolate cookies, but there's a lot more to the Addams' staggering butler than meets the eye. The role of Lurch is a part that features a lot of nuance and subtlety, something not many actors can pull off. Ted Cassidy not only delivered a fantastic performance as Lurch in "The Addams Family" TV series, but he also became the measuring stick for the character that all other actors will be judged by. Surprisingly, Lurch was the first television role where viewers got to experience both Cassidy's voice and face — he had done some voiceover work before, as per MeTV.

Standing at 6 foot 9, Cassidy had a successful semi-pro basketball career, especially in the college leagues. He dominated the court during his college days and excelled at the sport; however, the entertainment bug bit when he secured a gig as a radio DJ. Then, at the age of 30, he decided to give acting a try. Fortunately, due to his towering frame and distinctive voice, he was deemed the perfect person to bring Lurch to life.

John Astin made Gomez Addams more attractive intentionally

Taking one look at the patriarch in Charles Addams' cartoons and John Astin's Gomez, it's clear there are differences in their appearances. As Astin explained to The A.V. Club, the producers allowed him the space to shape the character for the show and to tinker with the source material.

However, in a separate interview with the Television Academy Foundation, he explained how he received pushback from the network, as it wanted Astin to shave the sides of his head to look more like the character from the cartoons. Fortunately for Astin, producer and show creator David Levy backed his ideas and ultimately allowed the actor to choose the path for Gomez. "I wanted to look more attractive and I thought that would work better," Astin said. "And it turns out one of the strongest elements of the show is the Gomez-Morticia relationship."

Astin believed this tweak to his character's appearance further fueled the natural chemistry between Gomez and Morticia on the show. Considering how they are still seen as couple goals by many people around the world, it appears as if Astin's decision was right on the money.

Ken Weatherwax was bullied for playing Pugsley Addams

While John Astin's Gomez, Carolyn Jones' Morticia, and Jackie Coogan's Fester may have stolen all the limelight when "The Addams Family" television series was released, the children also inspired a generation. Lisa Loring's Wednesday became a future goth icon, while Ken Weatherwax's Pugsley became the living embodiment of the macabre nature of the show. For Weatherwax, though, the role became more of an albatross than a kick-starter for a successful career.

Speaking to Bill O'Reilly (via The Hollywood Reporter), Weatherwax revealed how he struggled to find acting gigs after "The Addams Family," since most producers only saw him as Pugsley and he suffered from typecasting. The role also took a toll on his personal life, as he experienced bullying from his classmates. "Frankly, I didn't deal with it very well," Weatherwax said. "I was kicked out of like, six or seven schools, and went into the service at the age of 17."

Lisa Loring was cast as Wednesday because she looked like Carolyn Jones

Most five-year-old children are still busy learning to read and write, not even giving a second thought to what they want to be when they grow up. Lisa Loring admitted to The Sydney Morning Herald the same was applicable to her, as she had to learn how to memorize her lines before she could even read for her role as Wednesday Addams on "The Addams Family" television series. It certainly made no difference, though, since the show changed her life and made her one of the most well-known child actors in the industry.

Loring revealed that she didn't have a comprehensive filmography when she auditioned for Wednesday, yet she still secured it over another young actor who also wanted the gig at the time. It seemed surprising that Loring came out on top since there's often a natural reluctance from productions to cast very young children. Loring claimed the reason for her casting success was because of her uncanny resemblance to Carolyn Jones, who portrayed her onscreen mother Morticia.

John Astin blamed Batman for The Addams Family's cancellation

Despite "The Addams Family" television series finding its audience and becoming a runaway success, it only lasted for two years on the air. In an interview with the Television Academy Foundation, John Astin revealed how surprised he was to hear that the show had been canceled, though he knew the then-president of the network had a slightly different sense of humor which may have impacted the abrupt decision.

However, Astin expressed how another show's debut may have also played a pivotal part in the cancellation. "'Batman' had come on opposite 'The Munsters,'" he said. "A lot of programming people thought about 'Addams' and 'Munsters' as the same kind of show. 'Batman' came on with a big rush, it was a storm, and tough to go up against. I think there was some thinking that 'The Addams Family' would go away."

Astin appeared in "Batman," portraying The Riddler in Season 2 of the show, while Ted Cassidy's Lurch also made a guest appearance in an episode.

The Addams Family TV series cast got the original producer and writer back

There's sage advice that says never mess with a winning formula. In the world of television, this is the equivalent of cursing someone and wishing hellfire and brimstone on their family — but in the executive world, they love nothing more than to tweak and change something, even when the show is a smash hit and everything works well. It turns out "The Addams Family" television series wasn't immune to this phenomenon either, as revealed by John Astin to The A.V. Club.

The actor gushed about working with producer and series creator David Levy and head writer Nat Perrin, explaining how there was a natural artistic synergy between all parties and how it developed into a friendly working relationship. However, the production company decided it wanted to replace Levy and Perrin, so Astin and Caroyln Jones intervened to get their old crew back.

"At one point, they replaced David and Nat, and they hired somebody else to direct and write," Astin said, "but Carolyn and I got together and said, 'You know, this isn't what we signed up for,' and we went to Filmways, the producers, and said, 'You've got to get David and Nat back.' And they did."

The New Addams Family TV series had more episodes than the original show

While reboots are about as common as actors proclaiming their latest project as their best ever, "The Addams Family" television series' unprecedented success scared off potential suitors from trying to redo it. The franchise lived on through various animated shows and live-action films, but there was a fear of reviving the series until 1998. "The New Addams Family" featured a brand new cast, with John Astin later making guest appearances as Grandpapa Addams. The show won a few Leo Awards in 2000 and introduced a new generation to this kooky family, but it didn't have the same lasting impact or cultural influence as the original series.

Ironically, there's also a misconception that "The New Addams Family" was short-lived in comparison to the original. That's inaccurate, though, since the classic television series ran for 64 episodes from 1964 to 1966 (via IMDb), while "The New Addams Family" aired 65 episodes from 1998 to 1999 (via IMDb). Of course, the original series returned for a reunion TV film and the cast provided their voices for the characters in other projects; however, "The New Addams Family" still holds the distinct honor of lasting for one more episode than its predecessor.