Today we know them well: Gomez and Morticia; their children Pugsley and Wednesday; Grandmama; Uncle Fester and their cavern-voiced manservant, Lurch.
But before being adapted for television in 1964, none of the characters had names. They were simply a collection of ghouls who appeared occasionally in Charles Addams' twisted one-panel cartoons in The New Yorker.
On TV, the Addams introduced a whole generation to dark humor and irony. There wasn't much else like it on television at the time. This family was subversive and non-conformist in a time when everyone else on the tube toed the line. Compared to all the perfect families on other shows, the Addams were -- as odd as they got -- more real, and more perfect, because they were true to themselves.
The show ran from 1964 to 1966 and has appeared in syndication pretty much ever since. I'm sure I saw those reruns from an early age (I was born in 1965), but my first exposure to the Addams clan was likely in animated form. In 1972, they guest-starred in a Saturday morning "Scooby-Doo" movie and, from 1973 to 1975 in their own weekly animated series.
In the 1990s, of course, the Addams appeared in a trio of feature films with Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston at the helm, and in a few sporadic animated series, as well.
Here's a look back at the original show, Charles Addams, the first animated series and related memorabilia.