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.
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!