The V-Neck belonged to Morticia Addams in the Sixties
Studios refused to let anyone copy Carolyn Jones' style. Including Lily Munster.
Everyone knows Gomez Addams is absolutely wild about Morticia, and part of her allure is her dramatic style. The long black gowns that hug her form right down to her ankles were made extra dramatic by the deep-V cut of the neckline, a feature replicated from the original Charles Addams cartoon character.
Behind the scenes, just as The Addams Family was getting going, Carolyn Jones saw her marriage crumbling.
In 1964, Jones was divorcing her husband Aaron Spelling, who still knew how special she was, despite their split. They remained friends, growing even closer after the divorce. Spelling, a television visionary, urged Jones to do the sitcom. He and many others saw the Morticia role exclusively for her.
"I was in New York last January, and Aaron called me to ask, 'Would you like to do a series?'" Jones told The North American Newspaper Alliance in 1965.
"No," she replied.
But then he asked, "Would you like to do a series based on the Charles Addams New Yorker cartoons?"
"I promptly said yes," Jones said. "It seems that someone had said casually to Aaron, 'We're going to do this show and we need someone like Carolyn Jones.'"
Spelling's instincts were spot on, of course. Why get someone like Carolyn Jones when you know Carolyn Jones herself? There is no imitation that can rival.
From that moment, Jones took the image of the role seriously, hoping to look as if her spidery cartoon character had stepped right of of the page of a New Yorker magazine.
It turned out that she needed not fret for one moment because audiences instantly accepted her as Morticia. For studios, that included seeing the V-neck of Morticia's signature dresses as an exclusive style for Carolyn Jones.
That meant, in 1965, when The Munsters star Yvonne De Carlo, who played Lily Munster, requested to change the neckline on Lily's dresses from Frankenstein bride's square cut to a V-line like Morticia's, the studio said no.
According to Dick Kleiner's Hollywood Today! column, "The Munsters turned Yvonne DeCarlo down — she wanted to change necklines. She felt the square neckline accented her broad shoulders and that the V-neck would be sexier. But the brass said that Carolyn Jones (of the rival Addams clan) had appropriated the V-neck for her own, and it might look like copying."
There could be no copying Jones, a unique beauty of Sixties TV.
Occasionally, Jones allowed her image as Morticia to meld with her real life.
In 1965, she told the Philadelphia Daily News that she threw a backyard Halloween party for about 150 guests, transforming her home into a funeral parlor. For dinner, she served prime rib, but she called it "side of salamander." Beside it, she set a bowl of tapioca pudding that dubbed "eyes of salamander." The dishes were served by waiters dressed as famous Hollywood ghouls, and when asked what inspired the night, Carolyn simply said, "Fun, darling."
In the same interview, Jones explained that while it was fun to bring creepy elements of her Addams Family life into her real world, when doing appearances on talk shows, she prefers to leave Morticia's V-neck dress in the dressing room.
"I refuse to appear just as Morticia," Jones said. "Right now, in my career, it is important to step out of character and just be Carolyn Jones. After all, I was Carolyn long before I became Morticia."