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What The Cast Of The Addams Family Did After The Show Ended

Charles Addams gave birth to "The Addams Family" as a cartoon in "The New Yorker," but the clan truly became a fixture in American pop culture when they invaded television screens from 1964-1966.

(All together now)

They're creepy and they're kooky,

Mysterious and spooky,

They're all together ooky,

The Addams Family.

Vic Mizzy's catchy theme song for "The Addams Family" caught on with audiences and made monster stars out of its monstrous cast. Dying a quick death after only two seasons, the cast moved on with their careers, some with continued success, and others, not so much, but none could ever escape their "Family" ties with the show.

"The Addams Family" has continued to haunt audiences in reruns, and has since spawned cartoons, two theatrical feature films, a popular pinball game, and a Broadway musical. All owe a debt to Chas' original cartoon, but perhaps more so to the television show, which in most people's minds is THE "Addams Family."

Let's see what became of the actors who breathed life into the practically dead characters of Morticia, Gomez, Fester, Grandmama, Lurch, Pugsley, Wednesday, their relatives and not so friendly neighbors...

(Fun fact — the "Family" members didn't even have first names until Addams picked them out during the development of the television show!)

Carolyn Jones — Morticia Addams

Academy Award winning actress Carolyn Jones (for 1957's "The Bachelor Party") had a fruitful film career, working with everyone from Hitchcock to Elvis to Sinatra. 

She found her signature role on the small screen when she granted "Addams Family" cartoonist Charles Addams' wish that she play the magnetically morbid mother Morticia on the TV series. Her husband at the time, Aaron Spelling, helped convince her to take the role. She would also earn extra pay on the show by vamping it up as Morticia's sister Ophelia Frump, as well as going all digital as the female Thing, Lady Fingers.

Morticia was the apex of Jones' career (and she slipped back into Mrs. Addams long black dress twice more in the '70s), but she went on to add over 30 more roles to her profile after the show concluded. Memorable ones included Marsha, Queen of Diamonds for five episodes of "Batman," playing Chuck Connors' wife on "Roots", and Queen Hippolyta on "Wonder Woman." While suffering from colon cancer, she pressed on working in her final role — another powerful mother, Myrna Clegg, on the soap opera "Capitol." She succumbed to the cancer in 1983, at age 50.

John Astin — Gomez Addams

An earlier concept of "The Addams Family" that was being shopped to networks centered around the adventures of the butler, titled "Lurch," with John Astin penciled in for the lead role. He declined the opportunity, and eventually signed on instead as the energetic and eccentric cigar chomping (a habit he kicked when the show ended) Addams patriarch Gomez. Astin said "Gomez is really an extension of my own personality ... the closest thing to who I am, really."

When the series came to an abrupt end, Astin had no problem finding work, even squaring off against Adam West's "Batman" as The Riddler the following year. In 1968, he wrote, directed and starred in the short film "Prelude," which was nominated for an Academy Award. He married Oscar winner Patty Duke in 1972, and became the adoptive father of future "Goonies" actor Sean Astin. Astin has gone on to make multiple guest appearances on shows like "Operation Petticoat," "Night Court," and "Murder She Wrote".

He has never left his "Family" far behind, going Gomez for a 1977 Halloween special, an early '90s cartoon series, and then voicing Grandpapa in the animated "The New Addams Family." A proud graduate of Johns Hopkins, he returned to the university to help build up their theater program.

Astin turned 91 earlier this year, and is still keen to reminisce about his "Addams" days.

Jackie Coogan — Uncle Fester

Jackie Coogan's star burned bright in the 1920s, being named "the greatest boy actor in the world," starring alongside Charles Chaplin in "The Kid," and even having chocolate bars shaped like his head sold in stores. But just as fast as he rose, he came back to earth when he reached his 20s without a movie contract or much money. His mother married his business manager and the two withheld the millions he'd earned from his work. Coogan sued them and as a result, the Coogan Law was created to protect child actors and their earnings. The bill continues to protect minors working in the industry to this day.

Four decades (and a lot less hair) later, "The Addams Family" allowed his star to shine once again, playing the nutty, pale-skinned, lightbulb lighting Uncle Fester. It was a double-edged sword, bringing him new fans and attention, but he had trouble grappling with once being "the most beautiful child in the world, and now I'm a hideous monster!"

His newly re-minted familiar face started popping up everywhere, from "I Dream of Jeannie," to "The Brady Bunch," to "Hawaii Five-0." He worked consistently into his late 60s while also enjoying crossword puzzles, fishing, golf and duck hunting in his off time.

He died of a cardiac arrest in 1984 at age 69.

Ted Cassidy — Lurch / Thing

"Crawling into someone's skin is what acting is all about," was how 6 foot, 9 inch actor Ted Cassidy described his craft, and he unforgettably crawled under everyone's skin and memories as the Frankensteinish "Addams Family" butler Lurch ("You rang?"). He also lent a hand (in a box) to play Thing, for which he even had a separate acting contract for. 

Lurch (and Thing) was Cassidy's first acting role, one he hoped to not be forever defined by, and was relieved when the show was cancelled. His career became a mission in "defeating Lurch, assassinating him," but the Addams' butler proved to be a hard character to shake from the public consciousness. Releasing a song called "The Lurch" and appearing on "Batman" as the character likely didn't help those efforts.

Cassidy crammed a lot of work into a career that lasted only 20 years, usually relegated to roles that fit his tall frame and stature. He took over from Andre the Giant to play Bigfoot on "The Six Million Dollar Man," had his cojones kicked by Paul Newman in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," and provided his deep voice as narrator of "The Incredible Hulk" TV series. Even though he despised Lurch, he didn't want to let his old cast members down and agreed to appear on a cartoon version from 1973, a televised reunion, and then later slipped into costume one last time for an "Addams Family" Halloween special in 1977.

He "didn't enjoy having fans", and preferred a simpler life, growing tomatoes and racing his Porsche speedster. Life came to a grinding halt for Cassidy in 1979 when, after complications from heart surgery, he died at age 46.

Blossom Rock - Grandmama

Blossom Rock first made a name for herself on the Vaudeville circuit with her husband Clarence, as the duo Rock and Blossom. After the stage opportunities dried up, she followed her famous actor/singer younger sister Jeanette MacDonald into the film industry. While Rock was always in the shadow of her sister, she never let it get to her. At a "Come As You Think You'll Look in Fifty Years" party in 1938, she dressed up with a tombstone epitaph that read like a mini-bio:

As Blossom MacDonald she started in life,

As Blossom Rock she became a wife.

For her movie career she was tagged Marie Blake.

The studio told her to jump in the lake.

P.S. She did!

Stardom arrived at age 69, where she strapped on a fright wig, which took an hour to put on, and a pound of make-up. "It's just me emphasized" she'd tell people of her transformation into Pugsley and Wednesday's dear ol' Grandmama on "The Addams Family." Blossom had finally blossomed in the public eye, but her moment in the spotlight wouldn't last long, as she lost her speech after a stroke in 1966, retiring to the Motion Picture Country House. She died 12 years later, at the age of 82, in 1978.

Lisa Loring — Wednesday Addams

Child model Lisa Loring beat out 75 other little girls for the role of the adorable pigtailed daughter of "The Addams Family," without even knowing how to read. Crafting the character with a soon-to-be-signature deadpan and morose delivery, it certainly helped Loring to sell the character of Wednesday, since she was "never allowed to smile" while the camera was rolling.

Her post-"Addams"' career wasn't much to smile about either, unfortunately, and after being bullied by classmates she vowed that she "never wanted to act again." That vow was broken a decade later when she jumped back into acting in 1977 as Wednesday Sr in the TV special "Halloween with the New Addams Family." 

More parts followed, including playing Cricket Montgomery on "As the World Turns." Her own world turned a lot, as she became a single mother by age 17, endured four divorces (one from porn star Jerry Butler) and battled heroin addiction. Today she revels in her past life as Wednesday on weekends at various fanfests and conventions.

Ken Weatherwax — Pugsley Addams

Ruby Keeler's nephew Ken Weatherwax didn't enjoy being in front of the camera as much as his aunt did. After starring in Gleem toothpaste commercials and a bit part on "Wagon Train," Weatherwax was cast as Gomez and Morticia's one and only son Pugsley. Weatherwax's part didn't require much makeup or costuming (beyond shorts and a striped tee), and since he was very recognizable and "couldn't very well hide my face," he avoided going out in public.

After the show was cancelled, he ran into some trouble and was kicked out of several high schools. Given the choice of going into the Youth Offenders Program or the Army, he took the latter path, which helped to mature him. After his service ended he returned to Hollywood, but behind the scenes as a grip and set builder —  a job he said he loved.

Weatherwax eventually grew to accept his fame as Pugsley, returned to the role in the 1977 Halloween special, and greatly appreciated his fans' love and attention. In fact, when he died of a heart attack in 2014 at age 59, there were two funerals — one for his family, and one for his fans.

Felix Silla — Cousin Itt

The 3 foot, 11 inch Felix Silla honed his skills in the circus big top and then made it big time in Hollywood as a stuntman and actor, and yet you probably wouldn't recognize his face. His first major role was hiding behind the pint sized ball of hair of the Addams' beloved Cousin Itt. 

He didn't even have to audition for the role that would become Felix's signature, as Silla somehow gave Itt a personality through body language for 17 episodes of the series, as well as the "Halloween" reunion special in 1977.

Small parts in big productions beckoned — usually seen, but not heard in such TV shows and films as "Planet of the Apes," "H.R. Pufnstuf," ”Battlestar Galactica," "E.T.," "Return of the Jedi," "Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom" (he was Short Round's stunt double), and "Spaceballs." Outside of Itt, his most well-known role was wearing heavy metal to play Twiki on "Buck Rogers" (Mel Blanc provided the voice). The suit wasn't so easy to take off and he had "to be careful about drinking too much coffee."

In his spare time, Silla made many appearances at fan conventions and played Nevada clubs with his own musical combo, The Original Harmonica Band.

He died last month of cancer, at age 84.

Parley Baer — Mayor Arthur J. Henson

"I've done some pretty good acting for a buck and a half," said Parley Baer of his early radio acting days. He would go on to earn much more on television, playing "Ozzie & Harriet" neighbor Darby, as well as Mayor Roy Stoner on "The Andy Griffith Show." 

He also chipped in the most guest appearances of any actor on "The Addams Family," as Arthur J. Henson for six episodes. Henson served many vocations on the show — insurance company owner turned city commissioner turned mayor, which all got him snared in the crosshairs of his well-intentioned neighbors, the Addams, which didn't help his already thinning hairline. He re-teamed with most of the original "Addams" cast for that Halloween special in 1977.

A stable presence on many TV sets thereafter, he was seen in everything from "Hogan's Heroes," to "The Dukes of Hazzard," to "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." As he grew older, so did the roles, including playing a grandfather in "License to Drive," the Senate Majority Leader opposite Kevin Klein in 1993's "Dave," and Miles Dugan on the soap opera "The Young and The Restless."

The former circus ringmaster and Keebler Elf suffered a stroke in 1997, which slowed his career down, then died from complications of another stroke in 2002 at age 88.

Eddie Quillan — Joe Digby / Clyde Arbogast / Horace Beesley / George Bass

A wide smile and lively eyes has helped Eddie Quillan rise through the ranks of 20th century entertainment. Starting at a young age performing with his family in vaudeville, then in silent comedy shorts before graduating to feature films in the sound era, he would then transition again to a steady path in his career with the new medium of television.

Eventually he landed on "The Addams Family" for five episodes. For two of those episodes, Quillan played insurance agent Joe Digby, who got himself way in over his head issuing policies to his kooky neighbors — in one of those episodes he lost his job, and in the other he got his house remodeled in the style of Morticia Addams.

For the next 20 years a steady stream of TV employment continued, including playing numerous roles on "Little House on the Prairie." By the time he played a character billed as "Old Man" on "The A-Team" in 1986, he was ready to retire. The lifelong bachelor enjoyed a quieter life of golf, bowling and swimming for a few years before cancer ended his life in 1990, at age 83.

Margaret Hamilton — Granny Frump

There's no place like a spooky home for bewitching actress Margaret Hamilton, who gained silver screen immortality portraying the Wicked Witch of the West in "The Wizard Oz."  Hamilton was supposedly up for the role of Grandmama Addams, but had turned it down. Instead, she showed up for three visits to "The Addams Family" as Morticia and Ophelia's mother Hester Frump.

Beyond the series, Hamilton kept busy playing other mothers (like Reuben Kincaid's on "The Partridge Family"), grandmothers (Grandma Miller in the 1979 Art Carney TV movie "Letters from Frank"), and reliving and replaying her past "Oz" glory. 

She flipped the script and voiced "Aunt Em" for the animated 1972 film "Journey Back to Oz", donned her old black hat magic when she dropped by "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" thrice, and proved too scary for children and parents when she wickedly went green again as the Witch on "Sesame Street." That "Sesame Street" episode from 1976 aired only once and has rarely been seen since. Always freshly brewing till the end, Hamilton gained new face recognition near the end of her life as Cora, the New England storekeeper who loved Maxwell House Coffee

She died in 1985 at the age of 82.

Vito Scotti — Sam Picasso / Professor Altshuler / Miri Haan

A man with an unforgettably expressive and mustachioed face and hundreds of acting roles to his credit, Vito Scotti gave his all to every character he played. 

Always ready to make a scene, he was seen in four episodes of "The Addams Family," including two stints as starving artist Sam Picasso (they tried and failed to get Pablo), and later, like Parley Baer, joined the "Halloween with the New Addams Family" TV special in 1977.

Disappearing into multiple roles on one show was Scotti's speciality, doing the same soon after for "Gilligan's Island," and later on "Love, American Style," "Colombo," "The Magical World of Disney," and "Fantasy Island."  Playing to his heritage, he voiced the Italian cat in Disney's "The Aristocats," was an old world baker friend of Don Corleone in "The Godfather," possibly Bea Arthur/Dorothy's Sicilian biological father on "The Golden Girls," and even Tony Danza's "uncle" on "Who's The Boss?" His last film role was trying to stand tall opposite John Travolta in 1995's "Get Shorty." He died a year later of cancer, at age 78.

Allyn Joslyn — Sam Hillard

Sam Hillard is one of the first ever visitors to the "Addams Family" home, helping establish a running gag where any "normal" person in the Addams' domicile got out as fast as they could. Actor Allyn Joslyn played Hillard three times, appearing in the very first episode as a truant officer looking to get the Addams kids enrolled in school. Later Hillard runs for city council while trying to avoid the Addams' support, and in his final appearance, Hillard became a private school headmaster who can't say no to the Addams' money, but doesn't want to say yes to anything that comes with it.

Joslyn's resume mostly predates his "Addams" work, appearing on Broadway, radio, TV and in such film classics as 1939's "Only Angels Have Wings," 1940's "The Great McGinty" and 1943's "Heaven Can't Wait." After playing Sam Hillard, he wouldn't resurface in a role for another seven years, playing Sheriff Ed Hatfield in 1973's "Brothers O'Toole", which reunited him with John Astin, who was one of the titular lead siblings.

Joslyn died of cardiac failure in 1981, at age 79.

Rolfe Sedan — Mailman Mr. Biggs

Mailman Mr. Biggs, played by Rolfe Sedan, sometimes went beyond his call of duty, warning approaching strangers of the dangers that lie within the Addams mansion, and even one time was recruited by an undercover agent to go inside and dig up dirt on the family — a second career that didn't last long.

Sedan's career did last very long, however, racking up well over 300 credits, starting on stage in 1916, through the silent era of cinema, and with memorable talking pit stops on his route like the hotel manager in 1939's "Ninotchka" and as a tune up to Mr. Biggs, portraying mail carrier Mr. Beasley in the early '50s on "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show." 

In the '70s he appeared on multiple episodes of "Petticoat Junction," "My Three Sons," and "The Jimmy Stewart Show." For three of his final six screen roles, he shared a billing with Gene Wilder — with his final one being a rabbi in 1979's "The Frisco Kid." He died three years later at the age of 86.

Bill Baldwin — Announcer

Bill Baldwin (no, not THAT William Baldwin) was both a working actor and one who worked on their behalf. 

He built a steady career with his voice — as a news correspondent during WWII, a sportscaster, anchor and often playing an "announcer" or "commentator" in endless TV shows and movies. His voice graced "The Addams Family" three times, and could be heard in a wide variety of classic programs such as "Bat Masterson", "Leave It to Beaver," "Perry Mason," "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Ironside," "Mannix," and "The Streets of San Francisco." Sometimes his body even joined his voice, most memorably playing a commentator in the first three "Rocky" films.

In 1967, Baldwin became the first vice president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) union. He was elected as the president of AFTRA in 1970, served three terms, and was instrumental in pushing the United States government to hire union members for their audiovisual productions. He died of cancer in 1982 at the age of 69. Like all his other "Addams Family" co-stars, those who are still with us and those who aren't, their presence in endless reruns and newly-streaming classic episodes have kept scaring laughs out of each subsequent generation.