When Chas Addams was approached about adapting “The Addams Family” into a TV series, he didn’t have names for the characters. Indeed, they had only come to be called “Addams” by dint of their author, the implication being that Addams was drawing autobiographical stories. Chas, however, would have to invent first names for his family for the screen.
As it so happens, a mural that Addams had been commissioned to paint came into play. In 2018, an article in The A.V. Club printed a few letters to The New Yorker written by a woman named Joan Blake. Blake tells the story of how the mural — called “An Addams Family Holiday” – brought her and Addams together, and how a subsequent kibbitz led to her invention of the Addams daughter. A portion of the letter ran thus:
“I met Addams in New York more than fifty years ago. I lived in North Carolina, but had travelled to the city for a court case involving the custody of my children. I was staying with my college roommate, and she threw a large party, which Addams attended. I was so depressed that I sat on the couch all evening. Addams sat down beside me and asked what was wrong. I told him. He took my arm, walked me to the elevator, and took me to P. J. Clarke’s. He made me laugh and told me that the Addams Family was being made into a television show, and that he had no name for the little girl. I said, ‘Wednesday — Wednesday’s child is full of woe.’ And Wednesday became her name.”
The A.V. Club points out, however, that there was no way to directly substantiate Blake’s story.