Friends, when I was growing up I was lucky enough to have the option of watching both The Munsters as well as The Addams Family on weekday afternoons – courtesy of WTBS the Super Station. As I have shared in the past, the truth is in my youth, I much preferred to watch The Munsters over The Addams Family. Personally I feel that the reasons are pretty obvious for why a young Monster Kid like myself would be drawn to the former over the latter – but by the time I had hit my teenage years it was quite the opposite. And while I still enjoy watching both, it would be an utter lie if I didn’t admit that I watch The Addams Family a couple of times a week thanks to Amazon Prime. Much of that has to do with the quasi-subversive comedy of the series – as well as benefiting from the likes of John Astin, Carolyn Jones, Jackie Coogan, Lisa Loring, Ted Cassidy, Ken Weatherwax, Blossom Rock, and of course Thing.
The Addams Family of course began as a series of illustrations or cartoons from the late and great Charles Addams – the first appearing in the pages of The New Yorker all the way back in 1938. Although it wasn’t until after the television series debuted on September 18th of 1964 that the characters that Charles Addams had originated would even receive names. Interestingly enough from online sources it appears that William Shawn, the editor of The New Yorker, wouldn’t allow any of The Addams Family cartoons to be published as he didn’t feel the magazine should be associated with a TV show. This started in 1964 and lasted until 1987 – when the editor retired from his post – although I should point out that he did continue to publish other work by Charles Addams.
For what it might be worth, I have always been curious as to how well The Munsters did compared to The Addams Family. They both managed two seasons – with the former debuting just a week after the latter – and thanks to Wikipedia I can at least share that The Munsters tied with Gilligan’s Island for the #18 spot in the Nielsen ratings in 1964. What about The Addams Family though… well, thanks to this short interview with Dick Clark on a Halloween episode of American Bandstand we have the answer – 70% percent of folks were tuning in to watch the delightful John Astin and the rest of the cast every week.
In closing out this article I am going to include a second interview with the legendary John Astin from 1964 – which was filmed during a visit to Oklahoma City for a cerebral palsy telethon.