If you grew up watching The Addams Family on TV, snap your fingers. When I recently made a reference to the show and my kids had no idea what I was talking about, I immediately rented the first season and made let them watch it. They were fascinated by the Addams Family’s wonderfully “ooky” house. Let’s take a closer look!
The Addams Family House on Cemetery Lane
The show was based on cartoons by Charles Addams published in The New Yorker.
For the pilot, they shot at an old house in L.A. that’s since been torn down.
Here’s a photo of the house via a blog that has more information about the house and its history:
Starting with the second episode, a matte painting based on that house was used for the show:
The mansion was “advantageously” located at 001 Cemetery Lane between a graveyard and a swamp.
The sign on the front gate warns “Beware of the Thing”
The Thing was a bodiless hand that appeared out of various boxes throughout the house to help the family whenever needed, from answering phones to disarming burglers. In the cartoons, Thing was a bodiless head, but they changed it for the TV show.
The hand belonged to Ted Cassidy, who also played the butler Lurch:
Cassidy was 6’9″ tall and looked pretty imposing on the show. The actors who played Pugsley and Wednesday said they were never afraid of him, though, because he was such a “gentle and eloquent man–very kind to us.”
Lurch was never supposed to speak, but when rehearsing the pilot Cassidy reportedly improvised the now-famous, “You rang?” in his low voice, and it stuck.
A front yard and porch set was used for close-ups:
John Astin played Gomez Addams, the patriarch of the family.
The set designers painted a stuffed polar bear black, which dominates the corner of the room.
The giraffe in this portrait was referred to as a family ancestor in one episode:
The mounted fish with a leg sticking out of its mouth always generates a startled response from visitors:
Gomez leads the visitor through the living room, unaware of how freaked out he is by everything:
Oddly enough, as set photos show, the living room was actually pink!
It looked a lot creepier in black and white:
Gomez and Morticia chat in his and hers chairs beside the two-headed turtle. Those wicker chairs with the wide, rounded backs, became popular for awhile and were often referred to as “The Morticia Chair.”
In the first season’s Halloween episode, Pugsley and Wednesday dress up like “normal people,” and Morticia finds their costumes to be “a little too startling.” Uncle Fester advises them not to frighten the neighbors too much: “When you knock on peoples’ doors, you’d better say, ‘Do not be alarmed. We are only little children.'”
“Kitty Cat” was played by a retired circus lion. They loved to play footage of him coming down the stairs:
Wednesday’s favorite toy was her headless Marie Antoinette doll. Lisa Loring, the actress who played her, says she is frequently asked whether she was allowed to keep it. She wasn’t.
In fact, in the DVD commentary, the cast says that someone broke into the closed set and stole most of the props as soon as the show was canceled. No one knows what happened to most of them.
Morticia (Carolyn Jones) spent a lot of a time in the conservatory with wild plants like the meat-eating Cleopatra.
Did you know Carolyn Jones was once married to Aaron Spelling?
When Pugsley finds a puppy to play with, his family is scandalized (they call it the p-u-p-p-y instead of actually saying the word). Morticia worries that he is neglecting his pet octopus, Aristotle.
Gomez loves his trains (blowing them up, that is).
The chemistry between Morticia and Gomez was considered a little edgy at the time for a sitcom, even though they were a married couple. After all, Rob and Laura Petrie were still sleeping in twin beds over on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”
In one episode, Morticia tells Gomez, “When we’re together, darling, every night is Halloween.”
Wednesday’s bedroom is more Victorian B&B than spooky:
Pugsley’s room is described to a visitor as “The door at the top of the stairs with the baby vultures painted on it.”
Uncle Fester worries that the kids are spoiled, asking, “What other boy has a playroom like this?”
The show only ran for 2 seasons in the 1960s, but its popularity grew in syndication.
If it had been picked up for a third season, they would’ve shot it in color.
You can read more about the show and the cartoons by Charles Addams in Stephen Cox’s book The Addams Chronicles. Was this one of your favorites as a kid, too? 🙂