We’re Gonna Pay a Call on…The Addams Family

The Cast of the Addams Family

They’re Altogether Ooky…

Carolyn Jones (Morticia)
was quite an established actress in the business when she landed the role that put her in the television hall of fame. During the first decade of her movie career she was memorably covered in wax to resemble Joan of Arc in the 3-D classic House of Wax; was on the run from the pod people in the seminal sci-fi offering Invasion of the Body Snatchers; died in Elvis Presley’s arms in King Creole; was Frank Sinatra’s surfer girlfriend in A Hole in the Head; married George Peppard in the all-star epic How the West Was Won; and earned herself an Oscar nomination in the supporting category for playing the sexy Greenwich Village existentialist in The Bachelor Party (1957). 

We’re Gonna Pay a Call on…The Addams Family CONTINUES...

John Astin (Gomez) was the first performer cast, not as the family patriarch but as its manservant, when the original idea was to develop the series around the butler, a premise that quickly was abandoned. Astin was the sort of all-purpose actor who had gone from one assignment to another, appearing in episodes of several series during the early 1960s, ranging from The Twilight Zone (as part of Cliff Robertson’s wearied wagon train in “A Hundred Yards Over the Rim”) to The Donna Reed Show. Indeed, astute TV watchers could catch Astin no less than three consecutive weeks in a row during February of 1962, when he guest starred on Hazel, 87th Precinct, and Dennis the Menace. On the big screen he was frequently cast as socially awkward types, as in the Oscar-winning West Side Story, as the emcee of the gym dance, and the highly popular romantic comedy That Touch of Mink, as Doris Day’s undesirable suitor. During the 1962–63 television season, he starred on his own weekly sitcom, I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster (he was Dickens), performing slapstick with comedian Marty Ingels.

Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester) had been around since the silent movie era when he became an overnight star playing the title role in Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid, at the age of six. There followed a series of Coogan vehicles that made him one of the major box office attractions of the 1920s, including Peck’s Bad Boy, Long Live the King, and Oliver Twist (opposite Lon Chaney as Fagin). Although he earned something close to $4 million from tie-in merchandising alone, his mother’s careless handling of his fortune left him in dire financial straits. This misfortune required the twenty-one-year-old Coogan to take his case to court to regain whatever money was left, thereby establishing the Child Actor’s Bill which would protect future child stars from suffering a similar fate. The law would, in fact, be referred to as The Coogan Law. During the '30s, he went from star attraction to taking occasional supporting roles in movies. After some lean years, which included nightclub work and even a stint as a salesman, he returned to show business in the late '40s. Now plumper and bald, he became a familiar character player in '50s films like The Actress, The Joker is Wild, and Lonelyhearts. He was a regular cast member of NBC’s sitcom McKeever & the Colonel, which ran for the 1962–63 season.

Ted Cassidy (Lurch) knew he’d make some sort of impression on Hollywood casting agents with his deep bass voice and 6’9” height, and therefore left his job as a production director at a Dallas ABC television affiliate to search for work in California. Despite limited acting experience, he was simply too physically ideal for the role of the Addams’s hulking servant to pass up and he not only got that part but was called on to play Thing (billed in the end credits as “Itself”) whenever he was not on camera in his official role.

Blossom Rock (Grandmama) was one of three names by which the actress was known, having come into the world as Blossom MacDonald, eight years before the birth of her sister, future MGM singer-actress Jeanette MacDonald. She took the name “Marie Blake” as her professional one, and this was how fans of MGM’s Dr. Kildare/Dr. Gillespie film series knew her, where she played the role of the hospital’s inquisitive switchboard, Sally, in several theatrical features between 1938 and 1947. During the 1950s she started billing herself by her married name of Rock and figured it was time to return to her real first name as well.

Lisa Loring (Wednesday) had been modeling from the age of three, which led to appearances on The Art Linkletter Show and her official acting debut on TV’s Dr. Kildare, in an episode that aired less than two weeks after The Addams Family’s premiere.

Ken Weatherwax (Pugsley) had show business connections. His aunt was 42nd Street star Ruby Keeler; one of his uncles was Lassie’s trainer, Rudd Weatherwax; while his older half-brother, Joey, appeared on the Lassie series playing “Porky” Brockway. During the early '60s, Ken became a familiar face to TV audiences through his appearances opposite Alice Pearce in a series of Gleem toothpaste commercials.

Felix Silla (Cousin Itt) was born in Rome. He stood 3’10” and never showed his face on camera, his entire stint as an Addams semi-regular finding him under mounds of synthetic hair. Prior to being cast on the show, he had worked with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus and as a mascot at the Pacific Ocean Park amusement site. Itt’s gibberish voice, however, was provided by sound-effects engineer Tony Magro.




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