Did you know that famed cartoonist, illustrator, and Addams Family creator Charles Addams was from New Jersey? He was; he was born in Westfield.

At least one account says that he was caught breaking into a house in Westfield that was the inspiration for the Addams Family mansion, but other versions say it was house on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, where Addams went to school. One of his earliest forays into cartooning was drawing for his school’s newspaper at Westfield High School.

He started writing for the New Yorker in 1932 and drew his first Addams Family cartoon in 1937 and continued the series until his death on September 29th, 1988. In the early 60s, Addams was approached about licensing his creation for the production of a live action television series based on the family; in order to make that happen, he had to give the characters names (which they didn’t have in the cartoons) and flesh out their personalities.

John Astin was cast as Gomez, the family patriarch, and Carolyn Jones got the role of his wife, Morticia. The series ran from 1964-66 with animated versions shown in 1973 and 1992. The family also spawned several feature films, The Addams Family in 1991, Addams Family Values in 1993, Addams Family Reunion in 1998, and an animated reboot of the original in 2019.

In addition to the Addams Family cartoons, Addams worked as a freelancer; his drawings appeared in magazines like Colliers and TV Guide as well as in countless books. After his fatal heart attack in 1988, he was cremated and his ashes scattered on his New York estate, appropriately called “The Swamp.”

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.

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