They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, but they’re also endlessly fascinating! It might be hard to believe, but the Addams Family has been spreading their unique brand of strangeness for over 50 years. The beloved family returned to screens in Netflix's popular reboot, Wednesday. But Wednesday and her "strange, deranged" family were first introduced to viewers many decades ago. Still, there are several secrets most people don't know about the kookiest family in history.
1. Meet the Addams Family
The Addams Family movies were based on the TV show, but the TV show itself was actually based on a series of macabre little cartoons that Charles Addams drew for The New Yorker. The characters didn’t even have names at that point. In fact, they weren’t given names until the TV show!
2. Charles Addams was the original kook
Charles Addams, the brains behind The Addams Family, was every bit as odd as the characters were. For instance, he collected crossbows, and he wasn’t afraid to use them. In fact, he was once reported as saying, “I have this fantasy. A robber breaks into my apartment and just as he comes through the door, I get him – right through the neck.”
3. Charles Addams is buried in "The Swamp"
The creator of the Addams family wasn’t about to let a little thing like death stop him from being weird. After a heart attack killed him aged 76, he was cremated – and his ashes were buried in the pet cemetery of his property, a place he called “The Swamp.” A cartoon published after his passing showed the Addams Family standing over the artist’s grave while he, of course, clambered out of it.
4. Wednesday’s name has a fitting meaning
Wednesday Addams was first introduced to audiences in the TV show by child actress Lisa Loring, who tragically passed away in 2023 at age 64. Loring set the tone for Wednesday, then Christina Ricci went on to reinterpret in the movies, but the character's name comes from the nursery rhyme line, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.” Lots of woe, as it turned out. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as Wednesday’s middle name is Friday, and Friday’s child was “loving and giving!”
5. An Addams Family curse?
While Loring's passing comes as a surprise to fans, her loss isn't the first to impact the original Addams Family cast. When Entertainment Weekly went to interview the original cast in 1991, they reported that many members had died at quite a young age. Jackie Coogan had been 69, Carolyn Jones 53, and Ted Cassidy just 46. The interviewer asked John Astin, who played Gomez, if he thought there might be a curse on the show. He answered, “I hope not. I’m feeling fine.” He’s still alive today.
6. Lurch was meant to be mute
Originally, Lurch was supposed to be mute. But Ted Cassidy impressed the producers of the Addams Family show when he ad-libbed, “You rang?” More lines were scripted for Cassidy, and his improvised line became his catchphrase. Oh, and that’s also Cassidy singing the “neat, sweet, petite” bit in the opening theme.
7. The theme song inspired the films
Before The Addams Family movie got off the ground, producer Scott Rudin was riding in a van with film execs. Then, one of their children began singing the show’s theme song. Rudin remembered to the Los Angeles Times in 1991, “Suddenly, everyone in the van was singing the theme. Letter perfect, note for note.” A day later, Rudin suggested a big-screen version.
8. Christina Ricci and David Krumholtz hated their kiss
When Ricci and Krumholtz had to kiss in Addams Family Values, they were only 13 and 15 respectively. In 2013 Krumholtz remembered to BuzzFeed how awkward it was. He said, “I remember Christina complaining that I had peach fuzz on my upper-lip. She didn’t like that. And that made me really self-conscious.” But, he added, “I have an amazing list of women that I’ve kissed on film, but Christina will always be my first.”
9. A big "rip off"
The straight-to-video Addams Family Reunion was directed by Dave Payne, and he wasn’t happy about the whole messy affair. In 2016 he told Yahoo! Movies, “Everything we wanted to do was killed at the creative level by the executives, who kept on saying, ‘No, just rip off the movies, just rip off the TV show!’ Any of our original, fun ideas to do something with this were just thrown out in favor of ‘let’s not fix something that isn’t broken.’” Now, of course, the movie is largely forgotten about.
10. Carol Kane was younger than her onscreen daughter
In the first Addams Family film, Judith Malina played Grandmama. But for Addams Family Values she was replaced by Carol Kane, who was friends with many members of the cast, including her onscreen daughter Anjelica Huston. However, Kane was born in 1952 and Huston in 1951 – the “daughter” was actually older.
11. Anjelica Huston was a lifelong fan
Huston was born to play the role of Morticia Addams. In 1991, as the first Addams Family film was coming out, she told Entertainment Weekly, “I’ve known the Charles Addams cartoons since I was a little girl. It was a bathroom book in Ireland [where she grew up], and we used to flip through it. Their life really wasn’t unlike ours growing up.”
12. The truth about Pubert
In Addams Family Values, the interestingly-named baby Pubert was actually played by girls Kristen and Kaitlyn Hooper. These days the twins are all grown up and have moved away from acting, though they did show up in the show Home Improvement at one point. After their acting careers came to an end, they reportedly aspired to become sports stars.
13. The cast rebelled against a plot point
The cast of the movie weren’t fans of a proposed subplot about Uncle Fester not really being Uncle Fester. Ricci ended up pleading with the writers to have Fester be the real thing, not an imposter. In 2012 director Barry Sonnenfeld told Vulture, “The only actor who didn’t care about this was Christopher Lloyd, who played Fester! He didn’t care, but all the other actors were rebellious over this. So we ended up totally changing that plot point to make the actors happy. And they were right – it was the better way to go.”
14. The "negative" reaction to the Mamushka sequence
The bit where Gomez and Uncle Fester do the “Mamushka” is considered one of the best scenes in the first Addams Family movie. And it was supposed to be longer, but early screenings put a stop to that idea. Back in 1991 Entertainment Weekly reported that “a couple hundred Valley Boys” at a test show didn’t like the song. Apparently, “their negative reaction… evidently helped shape its final form.”
15. Carol Kane got some help from Danny DeVito
Poor Carol Kane had to spend four hours every day getting her makeup put on for Addams Family Values. But as she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018, “I got some advice from my old, old, old friend Danny DeVito, who had recently played the Penguin [in Batman Returns]. During his four-hour makeup jobs, he would come in every morning with a TV set that he put across from the makeup mirror. And he came in with cassette tapes that he would watch, reflected backwards on the mirror. That saved my life.”
16. The Addams Family Pinball was massively popular
Pinball probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of The Addams Family. But a 1992 pinball game based on the movie, featuring specially recorded dialogue from the actors, sold over 20,000 machines and became the best-selling one ever. Among its fun features was a Thing hand that grabbed the ball.
17. Anjelica Huston's unexpected inspiration
In 2018 Huston shared with The Guardian newspaper, “I based Morticia on Jerry Hall… I’ve always seen Jerry as a perfect example of motherhood. We’re still friends after 40 years so I guess she didn’t think that being the inspiration for Morticia was bad.” The supermodel Hall is, however, famously blonde.
18. Barry Sonnenfeld had terrible anxiety on set
Sonnenfeld was so stressed out while directing The Addams Family that he actually passed out at one point. In 1991 the director told Empire, “I lost 13 pounds in the first ten weeks alone. And the tension was just incredible.” These days he still has bad anxiety – it also manifested when he was shooting the Men In Black films. Now, though, he’s apparently learned ways to better control it.
19. Raul Julia’s eye-popping performance...literally
This scene sounds like it could have been from The Addams Family itself: while taking a break after filming in a bar, Raul Julia rubbed his face and his whole eyeball fell out. He found himself holding the precious body part in his hand – horrifying. Luckily, his eye did survive, and the next day on set Huston bought fake, drooping eyeballs for everybody.
20. Huston’s headache-inducing wig
To play Morticia, Huston had to wear a long dress that restricted her movement. She was also adorned in a corset and a wig which itself gained the nickname “Faye” after the infamously trying actress Faye Dunaway. It was all enough to give her headaches. So, when production on the movie was done, Huston took all the bits of costume and burned them.
21. Addams Family Values was aimed at the president
According to writer Paul Rudnick, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2018, “I did also want the movie’s name to be a response to the Republican Party’s constant harping on ‘family values,’ as if only conservatives could define a loving family.” Huston agreed with him, saying, “It was definitely a political commentary. ‘Family Values’ was a phrase that was used by the Republicans to describe what should be normal, or what should be right in America. Which is, of course, preposterous.”
22. Michael Jackson’s song was "too risky" for the film
Pop superstar Michael Jackson was recruited to do a song and video for Addams Family Values – but an allegation of child molestation put an end to that idea. In 2013 writer Paul Rudnick recalled to BuzzFeed, “I think he completed the video for it. But it was just a little too risky to include it in the final movie at that point. I think it involved him living in the Addams Family mansion and all of his neighbors storming the place with pitchforks and torches. So it was a little too close.”
23. Christina Ricci's famous inspiration
In 1991 Ricci spoke to Kathie Lee Gifford and Regis Philbin about her role in The Addams Family. She said, “When I went up to audition, my mom told me to just sort of think of Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice. They’re similar characters, so then I auditioned and it worked for the audition.” Ricci and Ryder – who acted alongside each other in Mermaids – are apparently friends to this day.
24. Anjelica Huston suffered for Morticia’s gaze
In addition to suffering in an uncomfortable costume, actress Angelica Huston went to some pretty extraordinary lengths to perfect Morticia’s penetrating gaze. In fact, she actually agreed to have her eyes shaped and pulled into position using string and spirit gum. Ouch. That couldn't have been a particularly pleasant experience.
25. Cousin Itt was a fire hazard
John Salapatek played Cousin Itt in the movies. For the role, he wore a rather uncomfortable wig that tipped the scales at 35 pounds. That’s pretty heavy, especially considering the man underneath claimed to only weigh 100 pounds at the time. And if that weren’t enough, the weighty wig proved to be something of a fire hazard. At one point, a lightbulb burst – and all that hair nearly went up in smoke with Salapatek trapped inside. Thankfully, an extra managed to yank him to safety in the nick of time.
26. The Addams Family made it to Broadway
In 2010 The Addams Family musical opened on Broadway! It was based on the original cartoons rather than the TV show or movies, however, and starred Nathan Lane as Gomez. Unfortunately, the creepy singalong actually received pretty bad reviews in the press. But that didn’t stop it playing to sold-out theatres every night.
27. The deadly Thanksgiving play
Who could forget Wednesday’s alternative Thanksgiving play in Addams Family Values? Of course, it ended with the pigtailed anti-heroine attempting to burn rival Amanda at the stake. But, after an uneasy reaction from test audiences, the filmmakers decided to add in an additional scene of Amanda later – just to reassure everyone she hadn’t actually gone up in smoke.
28. Everybody wanted a piece of Gomez
John Astin played Gomez Addams in the original TV series, and his romantic scenes with Morticia won him a lot of attention. So much so, in fact, that fans would sometimes stop him on the street and launch into French, expecting the charmer to reciprocate. Apparently, Ringo Starr even once started kissing his arm – before Astin put a stop to it.
29. Christopher Lloyd was always a Fester fan
Christopher Lloyd had been a fan of Uncle Fester from the very early days of the Addams Family. So, naturally, he was thrilled to be offered the part in the movie. However, Lloyd was also terrified about having to play a character he had long admired. He even spent much of production in constant dread that he would be fired.
30. A young Cynthia Nixon shows up in Addams Family Values
Before she got the part of Miranda on Sex and the City, Cynthia Nixon played the small role of Heather in Addams Family Values. Look closely at the film again. You might just recognize her as the potential nanny scared off by Wednesday and Pugsley’s penchant for forest fires.
31. From Fester to Lecter
Anthony Hopkins was reportedly approached to play the role of Uncle Fester in the Addams Family movie. He turned it down, however, in order to do The Silence of the Lambs. And this ultimately proved to be the right decision, given that he won an Oscar for it. But just think about what might have been.
32. The Addams Family met Scooby-Doo
An animated Addams Family made their TV debut in an episode of Scooby-Doo, of all things! An episode called “Scooby-Doo Meets the Addams Family” featured John Astin, Carolyn Jones, Jackie Coogan, and Ted Cassidy reprising their roles. It aired in 1972 and, unsurprisingly, it was a big hit.
33. Jackie Coogan's extreme commitment
Jackie Coogan knew what Uncle Fester was meant to look like, as he’d seen the cartoon strip. And so he had an idea of what he had to do to bag the role he wanted in the TV show. Yup, he shaved himself bald and covered himself in makeup. Naturally, it worked, and Coogan got the gig.
34. John Astin was an honorary Addams
John Astin played Gomez on the TV show until it ended. And he stuck with it as long as possible afterwards, too. In fact, in 1992 he was the only original cast member to lend his voice to an animated adaptation. And from 1998 he also made a comeback as Grandpapa Addams in The New Addams Family.
35. The house interior wasn’t actually grey
There’s no doubt that inside the Addams house, the décor looked pretty dreary. But in real life, the set was actually pink! Somehow it still looks spooky, though – and supposedly it was roughly based on the actual home of creator Charles Addams. Told you he was weird.
36. The Addams Family really had values
Under all of their quirks, the Addams family loved and respected one another – something ’60s audiences appreciated. In fact, the TV show became known for its family values; hence the film title later on. Writer Stephen Cox praised this family-friendly ethos in his 1998 publication Addams Chronicles: An Altogether Ooky Look at the Addams Family. He wrote, “There wasn’t any bickering. There wasn’t the making a fool of the father or the mother.”
37. Raul Julia’s death put an end to the third film
By 1994 a script for a third Addams Family film had been produced, but the passing of Raul Julia spelled the end of that idea. Technically, of course, there was a third movie later – Addams Family Reunion. But this bore no real relation to the others and ultimately went straight to video.
38. Cher was nearly Morticia Addams
Cher was considered for the role of Morticia in the 1991 film – and she’d certainly have looked the part. But she ultimately lost out to Anjelica Huston. And it wasn’t the first time. The pair had also both been up for the role of the High Witch in The Witches, and Huston got that, too.
39. Jackie Coogan was a lifelong actor
As a child, Jackie Coogan – Fester on the TV show – was a prolific star of the silent film era. His parents, however, kept most of his earnings for themselves. His plight led to the Coogan Act, which aimed to protect child stars from a similar fate. In fact, on the Addams Family set, Coogan once scolded a misbehaving Ken Weatherwax – who played Pugsley – and told him, “Hey, kid, pay attention. I made a law for you.”
40. MC Hammer wrote a terrible Addams Family song
MC Hammer is not a name associated with The Addams Family often, but the hip-hop artist performed a song for the 1991 movie. It was so magnificently bad, however, that it won a Golden Raspberry Award. The “Addams Groove” can still be found on the internet, if you’re brave enough to seek it out.