‘The Addams Family’: How Did the Original Morticia, Carolyn Jones, Die?

Many pop-culture fans these days might know the characters in The Addams Family from the iconic ’90s films, starring Anjelica Huston as Morticia. Still, long before Huston slinked across the big screen, another actress embodied the role of Morticia to utter perfection.

Carolyn Jones acted as the Addams family matriarch in the hit ’60s TV series The Addams Family, and to many fans, she is one of the best character actresses of all time. Although Jones passed away many decades ago, her influence lives on, both in the character that she helped bring to life and in the legions of fans who continue to cosplay as Morticia Addams each and every Halloween. 

‘The Addams Family’ is a cult classic TV series

Carolyn Jones standing in a black dress and her dark hair laying low
Carolyn Jones | ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images

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The Addams Family debuted on television in 1964. The series focused on the exploits of the unusual Addams clan, a macabre crew gifted with supernatural abilities and powers. Most of the show’s humor comes from the way that the Addams family interacts with the outside world, and how, even as visitors and friends are shocked by the utter weirdness of the family, they always treat others with warmth and enthusiasm.

The Addams Family ran on television for two years, a total of 64 episodes. Although it was only on TV for a relatively short period of time, the series made a huge cultural impact, with thousands of fans relating and reacting to the family — and the actors who portrayed the characters. 

When was Carolyn Jones born?

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In the role of Morticia Addams, the refined matriarch of the family was actress Carolyn Jones. She began acting in movies in the ’50s, and by 1957, she had even earned a nomination for an Academy Award for her work in the movie The Bachelor Party. Although Jones had acted in a number of television shows and specials by the mid-60s, her role as Morticia is the one that would really serve to cement her status as a cultural icon.

Carolyn Jones is best known for her role as Morticia Addams

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For the character of Morticia, Jones wore a long, dark wig, and all-black clothing. Fans reacted to her portrayal of Morticia right away, and she quickly became one of the most popular performers on The Addams Family. Jones was a mainstay in the series until it went off the air in 1966. Although she went on to act in several more projects, including appearing in the Batman and Wonder Woman TV shows and in the soap opera Capitol in the ’80s. 

When did Carolyn Jones die?

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Unfortunately, the last few years of Jones’s life were plagued by illness. In 1981, Jones was diagnosed with colon cancer. Although the prognosis was not good, Jones continued working, even appearing in her scenes in Capitol in a wheelchair. Determined to work as long as she could, Jones hid many of the details of her illness from her co-workers in the entertainment business.

Sadly, in July 1983, Jones fell into a coma while in her home in West Hollywood, California. She died only a few days later, and her body was cremated in early August.

Jones was only 50 years old at the time of her death. Although her time in the movie business was cut short, Jones had a lasting impact on the business — thanks to her impeccable work as Morticia Addams.