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Obituaries

David Levy; Producer Created 'Addams Family'

January 31, 2000

David Levy, 87, television producer and former NBC executive who created "The Addams Family" sitcom. Born in Philadelphia and a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Levy began his career in radio as producer of the "We the People" series in the early 1940s. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he joined the Young & Rubicam advertising agency, becoming vice president of its television department during the 1950s, when ad agencies were pivotal in the development of television programs. In 1959 he became vice president in charge of programming at NBC, where he was instrumental in bringing the series "Dr. Kildare," "Bonanza" and the "Movie of the Week" to the air. A critic of excessive television sex and violence, he left the network in the early 1960s during Senate hearings on the quality of television programming. He was best known as the creator of "The Addams Family," which ran on ABC from 1964 to 1966. Based on Charles Addams' cartoons for the New Yorker, it portrayed a macabre family that lived in a musty, castle-like home amid objects such as Thing, the disembodied hand kept in a black box. The idea for the series came to Levy when he was strolling with a friend down New York's 5th Avenue and passed a display of Addams' books. One, "Homebodies," showed the entire group of Addams characters in a family portrait on the cover. Levy was stopped in his tracks by the sight and told his friend: "There's a hit series!" He worked with Addams on a treatment, giving names to the family members--Morticia, Lurch, Uncle Fester, Gomez. "They're not monsters or ghouls," Levy once said. "They're simply a rather peculiar family in the neighborhood." Levy later became a leader of the Caucus of Producers-Writers-Directors, helping to steer the group into supporting strict ratings for television. He also wrote plays and novels, including "The Chameleon," about the downfall of a network executive. On Tuesday in Los Angeles after a lengthy illness.

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