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Lisa Loring, The Original Wednesday Addams, Dead At 64

Lisa Loring, who played the first live-action Wednesday Addams in the 1960s sitcom incarnation of "The Addams Family," is dead. According to Deadline, the actor was 64 at the time of her death on January 28, 2023. The star passed away at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, CA, and is survived by her two daughters and two grandchildren (per The Hollywood Reporter).

The news of Loring's passing, and her cause of death, were revealed in a Facebook statement by the actor's friend, Laurie Jacobson. 

"It is with great sadness that I report the death of our friend, Lisa Loring," the statement read. "4 Days ago she suffered a massive stroke brought on by smoking and high blood pressure. She had been on life support for 3 days. Yesterday, her family made the difficult decision to remove it and she passed last night."

The success of Netflix's "Wednesday," which has been renewed for another season, had recently returned Loring's most famous character in the limelight. Apart from Wednesday Addams, Loring was also known for her role as Cricket Montgomery in the CBS daytime drama "As the World Turns."

Loring set the bar as Wednesday Addams

Loring burst on the scene in 1964 as Wednesday Addams, portraying the role in 64 episodes of "The Addams Family" until 1966. In 1977, she reprised the role in the TV movie "Halloween with the New Addams Family." The character turned out to be an enduring one. After Loring set the bar with her performance, Christina Ricci took over to portray Wednesday in Barry Sonnenfeld's "The Addams Family" movies in the early 1990s, and Nicole Fugere inherited the role in 1998's "Addams Family Reunion." Most recently, the torch was passed to Jenna Ortega for 2022's "Wednesday" Netflix series. In addition, Wednesday has appeared in various animated "Addams Family" projects, voiced by Cindy Henderson, Debi Derryberry, and Chloë Grace Moretz.

All of this started with Loring, but outside "The Addams Family," her personal and professional lives were rather turbulent. She was married four times, and each union ended in a divorce. For a time, she also struggled with addiction issues. Still, while Loring wasn't able to follow up her most famous role with a similarly stellar acting CV, she remembered her times in "The Addams Family" fondly.  Indeed, she remained close with Gomez Addams' actor, John Astin, for decades after the show was over (via Sydney Morning Herald).

"It was like a real family — you couldn't have picked a better cast and crew," Loring said in an interview at the 2017 Monsterpalooza convention (via YouTube).

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The industry remembers Loring fondly

As the first actor playing what's become one of the more enduring and iconic comedy characters out there, Loring was very much a trailblazer. As such, people in the entertainment industry have been quick to react after learning of her passing. "Rest in Peace Lisa Loring, the original Wednesday Addams," Emmy-winning publicist Danny Deraney wrote on Twitter. "Not the obituary I wanted to read today," journalist and author Dan Savage tweeted. Former NBCUniversal senior executive Mike Shington and actor Morgan Fairchild also noted the sad news, while Mark Hamill summed up his feelings with a simple heartbreak emoji (via Twitter). 

Meanwhile, actor Barbara Crampton had a longer message for the dearly departed Loring. "Rip dear Lisa Loring," she wrote. "Delightful in the role of the youngest member of The Addams Family, your iconic presence as the original Wednesday will forever be remembered. You were an important part of our cultural history. I was so happy I met you. I hope you knew how much we loved you."

Sentiment and recognition like this shows just how important Loring was to people, and how fondly she'll be remembered.