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There are plenty of TV shows that have stood the test of time and managed to thrill audiences across generations. Lots of older series are getting renewals as networks and streaming services attempt to stand out by bringing new life to characters who fans already know and love. The Addams Family is one of the TV shows that has seen frequent reboots across formats for decades, and it has allowed fans to get to know the same set of characters through different actors and styles. 

Anjelica Huston is kissed on the hand by Raul Julia in a scene from the film 'The Addams Family'
(L-R) Anjelica Huston and Raul Julia | Orion/Getty Images

As The Smithsonian Magazine explores, the history of The Addams Family is a long and fascinating one. Beginning in 1938 as a single-paneled comic in The New Yorker, the spooky, ooky family was introduced to the world without a name and made the author $85.

That cartoonist was Charles Addams, and he was a beloved artist who got to brush elbows with the likes of Jackie Kennedy and Alfred Hitchcock, living a glamorous life built off his artistic work. Out of his nearly 1,300 cartoons for The New Yorker, only 58 of them featured the unnamed eerie family, and in 1959, Addams penned a collection featuring the six-member family. 

When the television show based on the cartoons premiered on NBC in September 1964, the characters got much more detailed with names and distinct personalities that took the world by storm. The success was immense — and considered so low brow that it got Addams banned from The New Yorker during the show’s run. The series was canceled after two seasons, likely hurried along by the network’s rapid switch to color.

Since then, though, The Addams Family has refused to fade. The show itself was played in syndication for decades, and it sparked film adaptations, multiple animated series, and a Broadway play. 

Morticia Addams is a fan favorite character

The Addams Family is certainly character-driven, and the six primary family members have stayed the same across all the iterations. There’s family patriarch Gomez who is married to the cool and collected Morticia. They have two children: Wednesday and Pugsley. They’re joined by Uncle Fester and their hairy companion Cousin Itt — who was voiced by Snoop Dogg in the latest animated version of the story.  

Every member of the weird family has its own appeal, but Morticia Addams has long been a fan favorite. Initially portrayed by Carolyn Jones, many leading ladies have taken up the long locks and icy stare of the elegant but frightening Morticia over the years. The Broadway play saw Bebe Neuwirth stepping into the part. The 2019 animated version had Charlize Theron lending her voice to the character. Without a doubt, though, the most iconic performance as Morticia has been Anjelica Huston, who played the part for the 1991 film and its 1993 sequel. 

Is Morticia Addams a vampire? 


‘The Addams Family’: Christina Ricci Talked About Kissing as Wednesday Addams

As Vogue reports, the many portrayals of Morticia have given her quite a spot in pop culture infamy. The Fandom Wiki about the character highlights many of her qualities. She often speaks alluringly to her husband in French. She’s an accomplished musician, and she loves to cut the buds off her roses and keep only the stems. She’s also the gatekeeper of the family’s “values” and insists that her children avoid the markers of anything overtly “pleasant.” 

Over the years, many have also wondered whether Morticia, who is notoriously macabre, is supposed to be a vampire. Her pale skin is often cited as evidence that she may be a member of the undead, but — according to her daughter Wednesday — that’s an aesthetic choice achieved with the use of baking powder as foundation. In the films, she’s portrayed with a ghostly glow around the eyes, but that’s not exactly a sign of vampires. 

If anything supernatural is afoot, Morticia might be seen as a witch, but there’s no real evidence she’s a vampire. Rather, her black ensemble and pale characteristics are fashionable rather than signs she’s moving beyond the grave.