See the people who nearly played the original Addams Family

Probably. Some of them still have not been identified! Do you recognize any of them?

Images: The Everett Collection

When The Addams Family premiered in 1964, the characters had been around for more than a quarter-century. Charles Addams had been drawing his macabre comics since 1968. But the sitcom introduced one crucial element Addams had avoided — first names.

That's right, until the television show, the Addams family members did not have names!

Thanks to the TV show, we now know them as Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Fester, etc. 

Gomez was almost named "Repelli." Fortunately, actor John Astin opted for "Gomez" instead.

Speaking of "almost" — the producers considered several actors in each role. Well, they not only considered them, but they also screen-tested them alongside Astin. LIFE Magazine was there to capture the audition process. 

The photographer captured all of the potential Morticias and Lurches in black-and-white pictures.

Take a look at all the behind-the-scenes photographs here.

There's just one problem — nobody bothered to record all their names! 

Well, the good news is that many of the faces are familiar, and classic television sleuths have been sussing out who's who for years. Here's who we probably think everyone is.

1. Jan Harrison


Harrison is likely the actress sitting on the sofa with Astin as Morticia. She is best remembered as the most frequent female guest star on Sea Hunt with Lloyd Bridges. She was also married (briefly) to racing legend Carroll Shelby, but the two split a couple years before this photo shoot.

2. Paul Wexler


Wexler is a dead-ringer for James Cromwell, albeit a generation older. With his towering stature (6' 6") and deep voice, he was an apt option for the lumbering Lurch. He also had roots in horror, notably as the zombie in 1959's The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake.

3. John Dierkes


With his craggy, grizzled face, Dierkes would have cut a much different figure as the manservant Lurch. His resume largely consisted of Westerns and sci-fi fare, in everything from The Oregon Trail to Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. With that strong jaw, he could have made a great Poopdeck Pappy, Popeye's dad.

4. Josip Elic


Let's finish the trio of would-be Lurches with Elic, a character actor with a long list of credits that include the Twilight Zone episode "The Obsolete Man" (seen here) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. He made for a more comical-looking Lurch.

5. Stanley Adams


Hey, at least they looked at someone named Adams for the Addams! This actor is most widely recognized as Cyrano Jones in Star Trek, the trader in "The Trouble with Tribbles." You might not recognize him without his hair, under that pancake makeup, as Uncle Fester.

6. Tracy Stratford


Now we come to Wednesday — well, the Wednesdays. The one on the far right is Tracy Stratford, the little girl with the "Living Doll" in The Twilight Zone, seen here. She was also the voice of Lucy in A Charlie Brown Christmas!

7. Jimmy Garrett


Outside of Astin, Garrett was perhaps the most experienced sitcom actor in the pool of candidates, oddly. He had previously played the son of Lucy, Jerry Carmichael, on The Lucy Show. That's probably him on the left in this quartet of potential Pugsleys.

8. Eileen O'Neill


We feel pretty confident about the identities of these candidates. The Morticias remain perhaps the most perplexing. We agree with others in thinking that the one on the far right here is O'Neill, who would turn up as Violet on Bewitched. She had also been in Burke's Law.

9. Joan Huntington


Most of the attention and trial-and-error was paid to Morticia, obviously, as she would truly be the star of the show. Huntington, seen here as a villain on The Wild Wild West, was seemingly one of the Morticia try-outs.

As for the other Morticias? Well, your guesses are as good as ours. Debra Paget and Charlene Holt are names bandied about. Tell us what you think in the comments!

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Snickers 28 months ago
I think Stanley Adams would have made a great Uncle Fester.
Lacey 31 months ago
"Charles Addams had been drawing his macabre comics since 1968."
And the show premiered in 1964. Wow, that IS spooky.
PulsarStargrave Lacey 19 months ago
I almost fainted after reading that glaring error....fortunately Grandmamma was there to nurse me back from the grave!

After the upcoming SUNDAY BLOCK PARTY, I hope The ADDAMS FAMILY returns, but this time on a WEEKLY schedule, instead of a weekDAY one! I LOVE the "Gambling" espisode where the family bets on a horse called "Granny's Lover", it doesn't mean I want to see it 6 TIMES a year!
AJ_ Lacey 15 months ago
Only missed it by 30 years.
RandyJepsen 31 months ago
Stanley Adams actually shaved his head for the audition as Uncle Fester. His head is still shaved when he appeared in THE TWIOLIGHT ZONE episode MR GARRITY AND THE GRAVES from 1964.
PamelaBeam 31 months ago
Joan Huntington looked a lot like Sharon Tate.
RandyJepsen 31 months ago
The hideous, wrinkled Grandmama was character actress Minerva Urecal. She died less then 2-years after trying out for the role.
denny 36 months ago
That was very interesting.
Michaeljscheibn 36 months ago
Paul Wexler was great- I remember him in a creepy Bowery Boys movie with Ellen Corby and the gang…
Mirramanee 37 months ago
Articles about what alternative actors/actresses could have been cast in certain roles are always fascinating!
scp 37 months ago
John Dierkes also played Dr. Chapman in The Thing From Another World.

Snickers scp 28 months ago
Loved that movie.
CraigGustafson 37 months ago
You missed Maurice Gosfield (Private Doberman on "The Phil Silvers Show") who auditioned for Uncle Fester.
F5Twitster 37 months ago
"Hey, at least they looked at someone named Adams for the Addams!"

You mean someone named Adams for the AddamsES!
Mirramanee F5Twitster 37 months ago
What's particularly ironic about that is that the Addams Family looked down on the Adams family. Gomez actually called them the "one D Adams" in one episode in a less than complimentary manner.
Peter 37 months ago
You have to wonder why the Life article didn't Identify these people.
audras 37 months ago
One of the Morticia wanna-bes was Julie Newmar, who was Catwoman on some of the Batman shows. I recognized her face, I'm sure, sitting with John Astin on a couch (I think) and in another close-up.
Peter audras 37 months ago
I don't see Julie in any of those pictures.
texasluva 37 months ago
Isn't something that hundreds of TV shows, movies and even commercials that someone else could have played those very parts. You can read the movie trivia and find out all kinds of things about the actors, directors and such including those on the short list of possible other cast members. Along with stories of spats between not only the cast but directors and others. One can only wonder, what if?
vinman63 texasluva 37 months ago
Like Jerry Van Dyke could have been Gilligan.
Deb 37 months ago
I think that first Morticia on the far left (in the photo linked with Eileen O'Neil) is Patricia Blair.
JeffPaul76 37 months ago
I think Jan Harrison and Joan Huntington are the 2 best looking (especially Jan Harrison,) of the 3 possible Morticias' that they could've gone with if they didn't choose Carolyn Jones.
Dave 37 months ago
Is Eileen O'Neill related to actress Jennifer O'Neill? The resemblance is uncanny.
UTZAAKE Dave 37 months ago
Apparently not.
Dave 37 months ago
Josip Elic also played in SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS as the Martian Shim. I actually met him a couple of years ago and he signed my SCCTM comic book.
Also, Paul wexler played a Lurch type character in THE BOWERY BOYS MEET THE MONSTERS.
Mare 37 months ago
Thank goodness they chose the perfect cast!!!
Wiseguy Mare 37 months ago
You think they're perfect because those are the actors you've seen all this time. If they had chosen different actors, you would have been used to those actors and would think they were perfect. You would have never seen the actual cast in those roles.
Wiseguy 37 months ago
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justjeff 37 months ago
I wish many women had the looks and glamour that Jan Harrison did "back in the day" in that publicity shot... she was drop-dead gorgeous!

John Dierkes looks [to me] like an aged Jed Clampett (sans moustache)...

Josip Elic [in that still from the Twilight Zone] bears a slight resemblance to a young Jamie Farr (think of the "Dick Van Dyke" episodes with Farr as the coffee-and-snack vendor)...

..and strangely enough, Stanley Adams (as Fester) reminds me of a heavier, and [perhaps] creepier Otto Preminger...

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