I was first introduced to The Addams Family watching the 1991 movie starring Angelica Houston, Raul Julia and Christopher Lloyd. I was mad about this movie. Mine was a childhood steeped in reverence and the Addams Family gave me a bit of respite. They thumbed their nose at “the good” and transformed conventional values into their own irreverent take on beauty, romance and familial love.
I was particularly taken with Wednesday Addams, played by a young Christina Ricci. It was the first time I saw a little girl who had no desire to live up to others’ expectation of her. It felt like a tiny act of rebellion to admire this brooding, mischievous, violent girl.
I’d always thought that the family first appeared in the 1960s TV show, but it turns out it started as a cartoon in the New Yorker in 1938. Created by Charles Addams, the cartoons all used the same basic premise: the macabre meets banal, everyday life. A large mural called The Addams Family on Holiday, painted by Charles Addams in 1952 for a hotel in the Hamptons is a perfect example of the gag at work. It pictures all the family members enjoying an overcast, ominous day at the beach. The New Yorker recently published an article about this icon mural, explaining its history and breaking down the composition – be sure to check it out!