The creative genius behind THE ADDAMS FAMILY, Charles Addams turns 100 today. He might have actually died in 1988 at the age of 76 from a sudden heart while parking his car, but his legacy of his bizarre characters seems to live on generations and seems timeless. He was a distant relative of two American presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams, although it’s not really known where the second “d” in his name spelling comes from.
He was both artistically inclined and a little troubled as an youth, where the mansion that inspired THE ADDAMS FAMILY’s own mansion was taken from a memory that he had of a burglary of a large and strange old home that he was arrested by police at. He seemed to always have some interest in crime, and by 1933 earned himself a job at TRUE DETECTIVE Magazine where his job was to artistically retouch murder victim’s photos to remove gruesome wounds or blood for censorship reasons.
He also served stints as an animated filmmaker for military cartoons during WWII, but it was his long running series of ADDAMS FAMILY cartoons in THE NEW YORK TIMES that gave him a cult appeal among fans. By the 1960’s he was approached by television producer David Levy for an idea for a weekly series based on the ADDAMS FAMILY characters. ABC added the series to their schedule in 1964, but the series only lasted for just two seasons. Incidentally, CBS TV’s answer to THE ADDAMS FAMILY, THE MUNSTERS lasted, just two years as well. Neither show was a hit, but both shows developed a cult following during many years of syndication. THE ADDAMS FAMILY also inspired two really great feature length film as well, but the death of actor Raul Julia who played Gomez in the movies seemed to end hopes of a third film. But, in the television series, John Astin may have been the greatest incarnation of Gomez Addams ever. John Astin was great in this role.
Wherever you are Charles Addams, we love you. You brought us great characters and humor and made our lives wonderful with your dark and macabre sense of humor. You constructed a wild and wacky world of strangeness.