Full of Woe: Wednesday Addams Through the Ages

For about a quarter of a century, Wednesday Addams was the grumpy, unnamed daughter on a show New Yorker Cartoon drawn by Charles “Chas” Addams. It wasn’t until his imaginary family hit TV screens that Addams started naming his characters. While it struggled with some, like Pugsley (formerly ‘Pubert’, a glaring TV impossibility in 1964), the name Wednesday – a nod to the child’s plaintive child from the nursery rhyme – stuck from the moment it was suggested. “It’s perfect,” Kevin Miserocchi, an old friend of Addams and now director of the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation vanity fair the unconventional moniker of Wednesday. “It tells you everything you need to know about her.”

Of course, everyone already knows Wednesday Addams — at least they think they do. Gomez and Morticia Addams’ only daughter is pale with dark pigtails, wears a white collar over an all-black outfit (sometimes with a handheld skull accessory), and obsessed with the macabre while feasting on it (literally, usually) torturing her younger brother, a lovable dummy in contrast to her deep thinking sensitive soul. However, look beyond these key touchpoints and you’ll see that the goth-tween Wednesday Addams has changed in both subtle and extreme ways in the 80+ years that we’ve known them. As yet another version and twist on the iconic children’s gothic lands, this time portrayed by jenna ortega, from the mind of Tim Burton in the new Netflix drama Wednesday, Here’s a cross-media throwback to the ever-evolving Wednesday Addams.

In print: The New Yorker

Two years after he started drawing his eponymous family the new yorker, where he had been publishing cartoons as a freelancer since his early 20’s, Chas Addams introduced a child to his macabre world. According to Miserocchi The Addams Family: An Evolution, In June 1940, “the first inkling of an idea about a sad little girl who might face the world alone” bounced rope, all alone, on a city sidewalk under a street lamp. The caption below: “Twenty-three thousand and one, twenty-three thousand and two, twenty-three thousand and three…” The character’s large round eyes are fearful and sad, but “unlike the other cartoons,” explains Miserocchi, “Wednesday’s pupils are all black with no white in her eyes. That alone tells us it’s dark on Wednesday.” Sad as she is on the outside world, she’s content and even happy in her own family — whether that’s guillotining her doll next to Pugsley, baking bat cookies with granny frump, or plays This Little Piggy with Gomez before bed. (By the way, this Wednesday has six toes on one of her feet.)

While immortalizing today’s Wednesday, he’s likely wearing everything in black and white The New Yorker‘s comic – when Wednesday comes in full color in this era, her familiar collared tunic sometimes shows up as a teal blue. Her signature long braids, meanwhile, took shape over time. “[Chas] was an artist who was always experimenting,” says Miserocchi, author of The Addams Family: An Evilution. Though a daughter later joined the family, he adds, “Wednesday grew as he did and I think he grew to appreciate her over time.”

On TV: the addams family, 1964-66

Lisa Loring in 1966. ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images.

Some still disagree on which came first, but it’s safe to say that neither is the case The Addams family (on ABC) yet The Munsters (on CBS) would have given the green light if the other hadn’t existed. After a few squeaky-clean decades of perfect American families, two similarly creepy clans debuted days apart in September 1964. They aired for two parallel seasons, Thursday and Friday nights, and were endlessly compared and conflated. To this day, Miserocchi says he answered questions about Addams’ lost blonde daughter.

Wednesday’s counterpart was Marilyn Munster, the adopted teenage niece and the only “normal” member of her monster family — that is, she’s blonde and beautiful, despite being a pitiful freak in her particular world. Wednesday of this era is played similarly Lisa Loring as a normal happy kid in a normal happy family who happen to be morbid goths. Wednesday, the first Addams family member introduced in the premiere episode politely opens the door. She is shorter than the height of the doorknob and is promptly revealed to be six years old and the younger sister of eight-year-old Pugsley. Miserocchi suspects the reversal is related to casting, although Wednesday, like most other characters on the series, has been noticeably toned down for television. Her hair is a natural brown rather than a strict black, although her always-worn tunic is otherwise entirely faithful to the cartoon – appearing black on screen and teal in real life. The colors were often not what they appeared to be, as when a color photo of the set was shared a few years ago, fans were shocked and appalled to learn that the family’s living room set was actually bright bubblegum pink .

In the movies: the addams family, 1991, Addams Family Values, 1993

Christina Ricci in 1991. © Paramount/Everett Collection.

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2022/11/full-of-woe-wednesday-addams-through-the-ages Full of Woe: Wednesday Addams Through the Ages

Charles Jones

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