Jackie Coogan preferred playing Uncle Fester to ''The Kid'' alongside Charlie Chaplin
Credited as the first-ever child star, Coogan turned 50 on The Addams Family, his favorite role in his long career.
When Uncle Fester fires a cannon that ends up wrecking The Addams Family's plumbing, it infuriates the insurance company that's sick of paying out to these oddballs. The twist in the episode finds Uncle Fester going to work for the insurance company as a salesman, and high jinks ensue from there.
For actor Jackie Coogan, playing Uncle Fester was so much fun, sometimes he left the studio without removing his makeup. He wanted to spend a little more time as the explosively funny brother of Gomez Addams. A cycling enthusiast, Coogan rode his bike to set. So that means often in 1965, California motorists got a glimpse of Uncle Fester pedaling home.
"Ask anyone — public adoration is the greatest thing in the world," Coogan told columnist Allen Garvin in 1965.
He had just turned 50 on The Addams Family, and he was the subject of many profiles in 1964–65, because Coogan stands out in Hollywood history as the first great child star.
The story goes that Coogan's parents plopped their son into his first movie at 16 months old, and by the time he was four, he'd been a vaudeville performer for two years. That's when Charlie Chaplin caught young Coogan in a performance and saw a star in the four-year-old. He just needed a cap.
Chaplin cast Coogan as a rapscallion escaping Chaplin as a cop on a beat in The Kid. Suddenly, Coogan wasn't just famous; he was essentially the first celebrity franchise.
"We pioneered the commercial tie-up market," Coogan told the Associated Press in 1964. "At one time, my name was on 50 or 60 different items, from dolls to pencil boxes. Peck and Peck paid us $100,000 per year to put out a Jackie Coogan line of clothes. Millions and millions of caps were sold."
Still, even after doing 125 movies and 750 TV roles, Coogan said playing Uncle Fester was the best time he ever had.
"Fester has a lot going for him," Coogan told the UPI in 1965. "He's 120 volt AC and DC, and he's great with dynamite. His only trouble is that he's one of the great losers of our time. He would make a great spy, but he kinda stands out in a crowd."
Coogan liked playing Uncle Fester, perhaps because it made him feel like "The Kid" again, a wide-eyed man-child who acted on impulse and knew how to make kids laugh.
"Fester appeals to youngsters because he thinks like they do," Coogan said. "Every time he suggests, 'Let’s shoot 'em in the back,' the kids share his straightforward approach to the situation."
Even though Coogan considered Fester his favorite role, he did not completely understand why TV fans went so crazy for the character.
"Fester never talked in the Addams family cartoons," Coogan said. "So I raised my voice an octave and gave him a beetling look. He's my kind of people. He's an irascible old goat, and I can't honestly say why everyone loves him."