Lurch helped Ted Cassidy embrace his massive height
At the age of 11, the actor was already 6 feet tall. It wasn’t until he entered the Addams Family mansion that he got over his towering insecurities.
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We're used to seeing Lurch on The Addams Family opening doors, uttering "Uhhh" and declaring in a booming tone, "You rang?"
"My mother can't believe it's my voice," Ted Cassidy told The Daily News in 1965. "But it is. I just deepen it a bit."
But in The Addams Family episode "Lurch's Grand Romance," we watched the six-foot-nine butler attempt to woo one of Morticia's friends Tiny Trivia, and this showed a different side of Lurch.
Here, instead of lumbering from door to door as ordered, he’s attempting to learn modern dance and even spend a scene serenading the apple of his eye.
For Cassidy, playing Lurch could almost be described as an impulse. He'd moved his family to Hollywood to try acting, thinking he'd make a good heavy, and he was so green, he made his own film reel on his own to audition for The Addams Family.
"It's all like a wild fairy story to me, the way I am suddenly on a national show, when I had almost no acting experience," Cassidy told the Oakland Tribune in 1964.
As a boy growing up, Cassidy didn't love being the tallest kid on his block.
In fact, he said he was ashamed of his great height and had no idea how he got to be so tall. His dad was 5'9" and his mom 5'8"!
He felt very alone, and he began walking about with his head in the clouds.
"I even hated to go to school," Cassidy said. "I was actually ashamed of being so much bigger than the other kids. And I was awkward. At the age of 11, I was a six-footer and tripping over my own feet. I had a miserable, unhappy childhood and wouldn’t go through it again for anything in the world."
By the time he got cast as Lurch, Cassidy had come to terms with his freakish stature, and of course, he credited his extraordinary height for landing him the role.
"They were looking for someone to play the butler’s role who was hulking and ungainly," Cassidy said. "I guess they figured I measured up to the description."
When playing the towering butler, Cassidy naturally had his own perspective on the character.
"I tried to arrive at an intellectual concept of Lurch," Cassidy said. "Inside, he's a gentle man. Like Frankenstein was gentle. As our director said, the Addams all have navels. That means we're not monsters, you know — we don't crawl out from under a fog. We're just a peaceful family, and we don't seem peculiar to ourselves."
But that didn't mean fans saw Lurch the same way, and it made meeting fans in the real world slightly uncomfortable for Cassidy, who was forever seen as Lurch from that point on, one and the same person.
"I can see it in their eyes that they think I'm dim-witted and sluggish," Cassidy said. "They look at me as if I were a circus giant and talk to me in condescending tones. It makes me very antagonistic toward them right at the start."
At home, though, Cassidy's kids could certainly tell the difference between Lurch the Butler and Cassidy the father.
"When they watch The Addams Family, my kids look on Lurch as something made of celluloid," Cassidy said. "He’s make-believe. My daughter, Cameron, will say to me, 'Look! Lurch is doing so-and-so.' To her, Lurch is strictly a TV character; I’m her Daddy."
It took him more than half his life to accept that being 6'9" was a positive quality after all. That didn’t mean he wouldn't shave off a couple of inches if given the chance, though.
"I'm extremely pleased about my height," Cassidy said in 1965. "Though if I took a hardnosed view of the matter, the ideal size would be 6'6"."