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The Addams Family and The Munsters

Updated on October 21, 2017
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The Addams Family opening title card showing the Addams family house.Morticia Addams (Carolyn Jones) sitting in her chair.Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan) and Lurch (Ted Cassidy)Gomez (John Astin), Lurch (Ted Cassidy), Wednesday (Lisa Loring), Morticia (Carolyn Jones), and Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax).The Munsters opening title card showing Lily (Yvonne DeCarlo) and the view inside the house from the front door.The MunstersHerman and Lily in the kitchen.The Munsters family car.  Unusual looking vehicles were common in 1960s TV shows.
The Addams Family opening title card showing the Addams family house.
The Addams Family opening title card showing the Addams family house. | Source
Morticia Addams (Carolyn Jones) sitting in her chair.
Morticia Addams (Carolyn Jones) sitting in her chair. | Source
Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan) and Lurch (Ted Cassidy)
Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan) and Lurch (Ted Cassidy) | Source
Gomez (John Astin), Lurch (Ted Cassidy), Wednesday (Lisa Loring), Morticia (Carolyn Jones), and Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax).
Gomez (John Astin), Lurch (Ted Cassidy), Wednesday (Lisa Loring), Morticia (Carolyn Jones), and Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax). | Source
The Munsters opening title card showing Lily (Yvonne DeCarlo) and the view inside the house from the front door.
The Munsters opening title card showing Lily (Yvonne DeCarlo) and the view inside the house from the front door. | Source
The Munsters
The Munsters | Source
Herman and Lily in the kitchen.
Herman and Lily in the kitchen. | Source
The Munsters family car.  Unusual looking vehicles were common in 1960s TV shows.
The Munsters family car. Unusual looking vehicles were common in 1960s TV shows. | Source

Background

The 1960s was a decade known for silly sitcoms. Many of that decade’s situation comedies had a ridiculous premise. The Addams Family and The Musters may have been the pinnacle of preposterous television show plots. These shows gave ammunition to those who gave the television derogatory nick names such and the “boob tube” and “idiot box”. These shows ran from 1964-66. Their runs were short but they gave a lasting impression. They gave hours of entertainment to those who watched the shows. These sitcoms were funny and memorable.

Which of these sitcoms do you like more?

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The Addams Family

The Addams family is independently wealthy. The household consists of the father Gomez (John Astin), the mother Morticia (Carolyn Jones), preteen son Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax) and preteen daughter (Lisa Loring), Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan), a grandmother (Marie Blake), and lurch the butler (Ted Cassidy). The family are eccentrics. As the theme song goes their house looks like a museum. Among the items in their living room is a mounted fish with a sailor’s leg sticking out of its mouth. Their arboretum has plants that eat hamburger. The have Thing, a hand that comes out of boxes. Thing does chores such as fetching the mail.

They have a life of leisure so they can spend their time pursuing hobbies such as blowing up model trains or playing odd musical instruments. In one episode there was a mention of Gomez carrying out a scientific experiment. Gomez was testing his theory if someone were to jump out of an airplane with a slightly smaller parachute each time eventually the person wouldn’t need any chute.[i] Lurch, the butler, stands 6’ 9” (206 cm). He has a deep monotone voice. His only show of emotion is a deep groan. The deep groan is always good for a laugh and also gives the impression he is the only sane person in the household.

The Addams Family, which originated from a comic strip, also spawned two animated TV shows (1973 & 1992). There was The Addams Family Fun House (1973), where the family hosted a variety show. There was a Halloween Special (1977). There was also the movie The Addams Family (1991) and its sequel Addams Family Values (1993). The opening credit sequence show the family doing two handed finger snaps to the beat of the music. The music’s tune is often played during baseball games. A scene from an episode, which is also in the opening credits, show Gomez and Morticia fencing in the house. That was parodied in a 21st century M&M commercial.

[i] The theory is ridiculous but people apply this kind of logic often. People often use a small-scale example as a reason to apply something on a grand scale.

The Munsters

The Munsters live at 1313 Mockingbird Lane. It is a gothic style house. It could be a calm day in the neighborhood but around 1313 Mockingbird Lane it is windy. The Munsters are a middle-middle class family. The household consists of Herman Munster (Fred Gwynne), his spouse Lily (Yvonne De Carlo), their son, Eddie (Butch Patrick) who is 10, their niece Marilyn (Pat Priest) who is in her 20s, and Lily’s father, Grandpa, (Al Lewis).

Herman works at the Gateman, Goodbury, and Graves Funeral Home.[i] He was made in Germany 150 years ago. He is one of Frankenstein’s monsters.[ii] His spouse and father-in-law are vampires. Lily has a gray streak associated with the Bride of Frankenstein. Eddie is a werewolf. Marilyn is normal. The Munsters believe she is so homely she scares off her would be boyfriends.

The commercial shown to promote the series before it aired showed Jack (Edward Mallory) driving Marilyn (Beverley Owen) home from a date. He is apprehensive when he sees where she lives. She invites him in to meet her family for a cup of coffee. He tells her he can walk her to the door. Marilyn forgot her keys so she uses the door knocker. There are heavy footsteps and Herman answers the door. He greets Marilyn and she tries to introduce Jack but he is running for his life. Jack climbs over the fence, scrambles into his car, and peels out. Marilyn sadly says, “Oh Uncle Herman, what’s the matter with me.”

Herman does most of the unintentional scaring. In an episode Lily gave someone a fright. They are on a train and a passenger in a sleeper car is reading a gothic tale. He is reading a scene that describes Dracula’s bride when Lily pokes into his section.

Herman doesn’t know his own strength. The unintentional damage he causes and his dimwitted behavior accounts for much of the show’s humor. A running gag is where Herman goes into a tantrum and breaks the flooring. Grandpa would open the trap door to the basement and say he is going down to talk to Herman since Herman will be there in a minute.

The television show was in black and white. The television show spawned a movie, Munster: Go Home! (1966) where Herman and the rest of the cast were in technicolor. The movie was the swansong for the series. There was a special The Munsters’ Revenge (1981). There was also a remake TV series, The Munsters Today (1987-1991), Here Come The Munsters (1995), and the Christmas Special, The Munsters’ Scary Little Christmas (1996). One of the opening sequences of The Simpsons parodied The Munsters’ opening.

[i] It’s a variation on The Three Stooges humor “Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe Attorneys at Law”.

[ii] Since The Munsters was a Universal Studios production they were able to give the Herman Munster character the classic Frankenstein Monster look.

Comparisons and Observations

Their extended family excepted The Addams family could easily fit in with everyone else. It was their behavior, and how they made themselves look, that separated them from the rest of society. The Munsters were generally average folks that had many of the problems everyone else had. It was their looks that separated them from the rest of society. Neither family thought themselves strange. The Addams family considered normal behavior weird.

The Addams Family may also give a peek into how much Americans have changed. Today a couple fencing, playing Japanese musical instruments or a harpsichord is different but hardly eccentric. Pet lions are rare but people do have these and other exotic pets. Some people practice knife throwing and aren’t considered strange. Home schooling is an accepted and popular practice.

How would some of the things we do today appear to a 1964 television audience? What if a television show had:

· A son who played Dungeons and Dragons and made fighting robots.

· A daughter who was a goth.

· The children were homeschooled.

· The parents were involved in Renaissance Festivals, Cosplay, Paintball, Laser Tag, and reenactments of various eras?

Would the 1964 viewers consider such a show laughably weird or too crazy to consider watching?

Some things that may have been strange to people in mid-1960s America

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Jousting, the official sport of the State of Maryland since 1962.  I wonder what non-Marylanders thought of it at the time?People performing a Wild West skit, late 1970s.  Hawking, this would seem something Gomez Addams might like.A wedding dias 1982.  The bridal couple's chairs are similar to the chair of Morticia Addams.  Many households have one or more such chairs.A group of cosplayers on stage at Yukicon 2014 convention in Finland.A pair of paintballersAdults and Children playing laser tag.
Jousting, the official sport of the State of Maryland since 1962.  I wonder what non-Marylanders thought of it at the time?
Jousting, the official sport of the State of Maryland since 1962. I wonder what non-Marylanders thought of it at the time? | Source
People performing a Wild West skit, late 1970s.
People performing a Wild West skit, late 1970s. | Source
Hawking, this would seem something Gomez Addams might like.
Hawking, this would seem something Gomez Addams might like. | Source
A wedding dias 1982.  The bridal couple's chairs are similar to the chair of Morticia Addams.  Many households have one or more such chairs.
A wedding dias 1982. The bridal couple's chairs are similar to the chair of Morticia Addams. Many households have one or more such chairs. | Source
A group of cosplayers on stage at Yukicon 2014 convention in Finland.
A group of cosplayers on stage at Yukicon 2014 convention in Finland. | Source
A pair of paintballers
A pair of paintballers | Source
Adults and Children playing laser tag.
Adults and Children playing laser tag. | Source

As an adult have you done anything Addams Familyesque?

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    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 2 days ago

      Yes Lawrence that scene you described with Gomez and Lurch is a good one. It's is also one that has been repeated since the 80s. One spouse insists on the need for a computer. The other spouse goes along with it and the only thing the spouse who "needed" the computer ever seems to do with it is play the latest computer games. I also enjoyed the Beverly Hillbillies and the opposite side of that coin Green Acres.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 3 days ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Robert

      This was a nice trip down 'memory lane' to a couple of my favourite shows from when I was a kid (add in the Beverley Hillbillies and you'd have the three regulars we used to watch)

      I think there are a lot of things we own that the Addams Family would enjoy, computers would be one, mobile phones another, I have a mental picture of Gomez trying to operate one, and Lurch groaning!!

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 6 weeks ago

      You're right. Many TV sitcoms are based on familiar characters. In the case of The Munsters it was: A school age boy who had the usual pre-teen issues. An adult single, unattached, woman. An in-law who doesn't think much of his son-in-law. An oaf of a husband and a wife who keeps everything together. That yields a great number of episode plot lines.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 6 weeks ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      That really is the kind of humor that makes a show work. It means the characters are well developed and the audience is invested in the show.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 6 weeks ago

      Yes, the running gag with Marilyn was every time Herman scared off a suitor the family, including Marilyn, would think she was the one who scared him off.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 6 weeks ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      This brought back good memories watching these shows. I had forgotten Marilyn was a normal person. I'm sure that added some comedic material that separated them from the Adam's Family.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 7 weeks ago

      Than you for reading and commenting. That is one thing I like about HubPages, chances to write about and read about memories.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      I enjoyed both of those crazy sitcoms. Thanks for resurrecting my memories by writing about them.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 8 weeks ago

      Yes, Uncle Fester was quite the character. His ability to turn on light bulbs definitely set him apart. I remember one episode where he had an issue with someone. Gomez and Morticia proposed he have a duel. Uncle Fester's retort was, "I'll shoot him in the back."

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 8 weeks ago from Norfolk, England

      I love the Addams Family. Uncle Fester is my favourite. =)