Hark back to the fall of 1964. It was, quite literally, the ghoul-den age of television.
In September, 1964, CBS premiered its monster comedy series "The Munsters" while ABC offered its ookey entry "The Addams Family." The repeats of "The Addams Family" joined the TBS lineup this month.
The two were not at all critical successes, yet "The Munsters" and "The Addams Family" placed among the top 25 shows in their first season. Of the two, "The Addams Family" was the neater and it's finger-snapping theme song was catchier.
The series, which lasted two seasons, was based on the popular cartoon characters created by Charles Addams for the New Yorker magazine. The cartoon characters had no first names, so Addams supplied them for the series.
And what names. First there was Morticia Frump Addams, the macabre matriarch with the long black hair, played to the hilt by Carolyn Jones, an Oscar nominee for 1957's "Bachelor Party." John Astin, who was previously seen in the comedy series "I'm Dickens, He's Fenster" and in the movies "That Touch of Mink" and "West Side Story," was her big-eyed husband, Gomez. He was a lawyer who, more than likely, was of the ambulance chaser variety.
Former child star Jackie Coogan (Charlie Chaplin's "The Kid"), was Morticia's sweet but utterly hairless and eyebrowless Uncle Fester. And then there was the Addams' 7-foot-tall butler, Lurch (Ted Cassidy), who resembled Frankenstein's monster, and who would always say in the deepest of voices, "You rang?"
Pugsley Addams (Ken Weatherwax) and Wednesday Thursday Addams (Lisa Loring) were Morticia and Gomez' children; Grandmamma Addams (Blossom Rock) and the truly bizarre Cousin Itt (Felix Silla) rounded out the Addams family.
And who could forget Thing, the disembodied hand (which actually belonged to Ted Cassidy) that would pop in and out of a black box. You had to hand it to Thing--it proved such a hit with audiences that it became a best-selling bank.
"The Addams Family" has now gone upscale. Later this year Paramount is releasing a $20-million-plus screen version of "The Addams Family," starring Oscar-winner Anjelica Huston and Oscar-nominee Raul Julia as Morticia and Gomez, and Christopher Lloyd ("Taxi") as Uncle Fester.
"The Addams Family" airs Monday-Friday at 1:35 p.m. on TBS.