Bringing The Addams Family To TV Took Some Quick Thinking With The Set Design

By 1964, the Addams Family had become so popular that MGM optioned the characters for a grim TV sitcom, which presented a new host of creative hurdles. For one, the Addams Family now needed names. Charles Addams had already settled on the name Gomez for the father and Morticia for the mother, but it took a while for him to name the kids. According to a report in the A.V. Club, Wednesday Addams was named by a friend of Charles’ named Joan Blake after the famous “Monday’s Child” poem. 

Additionally, the Addams Family needed a home. In the comics, the Family lived in an enormous dilapidated mansion full of creaky boards and rotting walls. The look of the comics would’t be accurately reproduced on screen until Barry Sonnenfeld’s 1991 feature film adaptation of the characters. In 1964, something more practical was needed. 

As it so happened, Addams lived in a large, posh, over-decorated apartment in Manhattan, and the production designers of the upcoming sitcom decided that would have to be the look they would go with. It would have been far too cost prohibitive to build new sets, so MGM hastily redressed the sets that had been left over from the 1964 film “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” that had just wrapped shooting. Luckily for the Addams Family, they would be blessed with a home large enough for a feature film. 

Then MGM, without much sense of rhyme or reason, began plundering their own prop warehouses looking for something — for anything — that would be considered remotely “haunted.” They scattered the set with stuffed tortoises, sharpening stones, anything weird. If it was creepy, kooky, mysterious, or spooky, it was included.

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