English 430: Literature & the Visual Arts

October 29, 2009

Charles Addams

Filed under: Online Reports — corricrystal @ 2:49 pm

addamsCharles Addams is best known for creating “The Addams Family,” and is often referred to as to as the ‘Master of Macabre.’ Born on January 7, 1912 in Westfield New Jersey; no one could have predicted the morbid genius to come. 
















Indeed, as a cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine his topics were usually twisted, brutally honest, and yet very funny. Addams was able to find a whimsical humor in the most sinister of subjects. He consistently pushed the proverbial envelope during a time when etiquette was invaluable, and somehow managed to get away with it. 


“Say, Donovan, do we have one with muffled oars?”
























“For heaven’s sake, can’t you do anything right?”
















In many of his comics he portrayed middle aged married couples with great contempt for one another, but somehow his quirky humor transcended this delicate topic. 


Addam’s personal views on marriage might have been reflected in his art; he was married three times, and was an admitted philanderer. 



"May I borrow a cup of cyanide?"

















Fun Fact #1 Charles Addams created the Addams Family comic that predates the creation of the television show. 


Charles Addams began his career at The New Yorker magazine on February 6, 1932. It wasn’t until six years later, in the August 6, 1938 issue, that the Addams family cartoon debuted. He introduced the world to a strangely fascinating family that lived in a constant state of endearing macabre. 




Fun Fact #2 The Addams family characters remained nameless for the first twenty five years they were in print. 


It wasn’t until 1964, when Charles was approached to write a television show based on his characters that he gave them their famous names: Morticia, Gomez, Fester, Wednesday, Pugsley, Gramdmama, and Lurch. 


family picture 


The characters in the television series closely resembled Addams’ original work; except the illustrated Gomez is much shorter and heavier than the John Astin TV character. 




Fun Fact #3 The character of Morticia Addams was modeled after his first wife, Barbara Jean Day. 




It has been noted that Barbara Day Jean closely resembled Bettie Page. 



"Well, well, Sanford! Congratulations!"









Fun Fact #4 Charles Addams signed his work, Chas Addams, simply because he thought it was more aesthetically pleasing than Charles. 










 Fun Fact #5 Alfred Hitchcock was a fan of Addams, and they eventually became friends. It is said that the Victorian house in Psycho (similar to the Victorian house in The Addams Family) was due to Addam’s influence on Hitchcock. 





House in Psycho















addams family house

House in The Addam's Family















Fun Fact #6 In 2007, almost seventy years after the inception of the family Addams, M&M’s debuted a commercial starring this belovedly ghoulish family. 


I juxtaposed the original Addams Family opening with the commercial for a point of reference. 





This is one of the best commercials I have seen. It truly captures the playful essence of these now famous characters, and introduces a new generation to the genius of Charles Addams. 


Fun fact #7 The “Addams Family Musical” will open in Chicago on November 3, 2009. 


Though many might be skeptical of such a musical; there are actually some heavy hitters starring in this production. Bebe Neuwirth will be portraying Morticia Addams, and Nathan Lane will be playing Gomez Addams. The script is being written by the same writers of the highly acclaimed ‘Jersey Boys,’ so there is hope that it will be a well thought out, entertaining production. Cross your fingers. 




















I had so much fun doing research for this project. Charles Addams’ comics consistently made me laugh. 



"George! George! Drop the keyes!"




"Imagine it, Barclay. Here we stand gazing down at tracks made ten million years ago."












"Now, don't come crawling back asking me to forgive you."





tunnel of love 


















This cartoon is a sweet example of how Addams didn’t always look for humor in the morose.  He was able to find it everywhere, even in the tunnel of love. 


I highly recommend borrowing The World of Chas Addams from the library. Compiled by Charles and his third wife, Tee; it is a wonderful collection of his amazingly unique work. 








Works Cited 


Addams, Charles.  The World of Chas Addams. New York: Random House, 1991. 


Davis, Linda H.  Chas AddamsA Cartoonist’s Life.  New York:  Random House, 2006. 































































































































































































































































































































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