Image copyright © 1952 The Addams Family™ Tee and Charles Addams Foundation. All rights reserved.
Is Pugsley burying a cadaver? Is Lurch mixing up a poisonous cocktail? These might be some of the questions a viewer might ask gazing at this 14-foot by 4-foot mural originally hanging in a Westhampton, New York hotel called Dune Deck. The year was 1952. Today it hangs in a library at Penn State University after the hotel changed hands and a Penn State alumnus donated it. A little later the image appeared in The New Yorker magazine. The Addams Family can truly be called a multimedia family. The brainchild of American cartoonist Charles Addams, he would often say his weirdly created family was inspired by his hometown of Westfield, New Jersey, which contained many old cemeteries and numerous Victorian mansions. Since he created the macabre family, the characters have been the subject of multiple cartoons, comics, live-action and animated movies, books, TV series (live-action and animated), TV specials, direct-to-videos, musicals, video games and a pinball machine. The latest iteration of the clan is a major new animated film version in Fall 2019 (see cover story).
The iconic TV series debuted in 1964. Featuring actors John Astin as Gomez, Carolyn Jones as Morticia and Jackie Coogan as Uncle Fester, the special effects back then were provided by Larry Chapman, Joe Zomar, Robert Cole and Bob Overbeck, according to IMDb. As a matter of fact, the disembodied hand, Thing, was played in the TV show’s opening titles by Richard Edlund, VES, a member of the Society’s Board, VES Fellow and Lifetime Achievement Award honoree.
This mural, entitled “An Addams Family Holiday,” shows the familiar characters (left to right) Pugsley, Wednesday, Gomez, Aristotle the Octopus, Fester, Morticia, Lurch and Grandmama Addams. The family is oblivious to the ‘normal’ beachgoers who are fleeing in panic.