The macabre wit of "The Addams Family" was originally born as a cartoon that ran in America's classy "The New Yorker" magazine. It came from the mind of celebrated cartoonist Charles Addams who introduced the characters of Morticia and Lurch in 1937. Later appearances saw the additions of Gomez, the children and Uncle Fester although they remained nameless. His previous work in touching up photos of dead bodies for a crime magazine and his house filled with ancient torture devices, likely helped develop his wonderfully dark sense of dry humour.
The devilish wit behind "The Addams Family" attracted the attention of TV producer David Levy. He met up with Addams and after only three meetings the TV show was well on its way with the cartoonist's only input being to add names to the characters. While Levy loved the cartoon he could not have transferred its inherently dark nature to TV. Instead it had to be more zany than creepy and in taking the idea to the makers of such shows as "Mr. Ed" (the talking horse) and "The Beverly Hillbillies" he was able to find the balance he wanted.
By 1964 a 15-minute presentation pilot was shown to Addams who was duly delighted, as were the ABC network who bought the show which ran for a short two years and 64 episodes until cancellation in 1966.
Despite this seeming disinterest by ABC the show was a huge hit in Australia and Universal produced a spookily similar rival show "The Munsters". Merchandising was equally popular with an LP released, bubblegum cards, jigsaws, figurines, hand puppets, plates, games, novels, computer games and much more. The show also made a brief return as a horrible TV reunion movie in 1977 and Hanna-Barbera produced a cartoon series in 1973, which ran for two years. Then of course there was the 1991 cinema movie, which according to Paramount was based on the Addams cartoons rather than the TV show.