Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy 100th, Mr. Addams...

Anyone who has used Google today (and I would imagine that would be a considerable number of people) knows that it is the anniversary of Charles Addams 100th birthday.  Had the fine folks at Google not alerted me to the fact, I most likely would have gone about my day oblivious.  Thankfully I did venture onto Google.  Message received.  Since I was having another one of my sleepless nights, I saw the Addams Family modeled lettering that gave one the news (if only they moved their cursor over it) in the wee-est of wee hours.  It was extremely close to the witching more than a half-hour past. Since seeing the familiar Family artwork molded into the Google letters, I have been simmering on it.  Thinking fondly of the Addams Family I grew up with, in its various forms...Television show, Saturday morning cartoon, and of course the films.  I spent the majority of my simmer on the original form.  The artfully drawn cartoons that appeared for years in the New Yorker magazine.  The cartoons and the man that created them, Charles Addams.

Although a fan of his artwork on the whole (he did draw pieces that did not include the Addams Family), Gomez, Morticia, and family have always been my favorite.  (note:  For the next time you play Trivial Pursuit, the family didn't have names...the names were created when the television show came around.)  Oddly enough I have been a fan of Mr. Addams work for years, but know very little about him.  Considering what day this is, I figured the time was ripe for reading a bio or two.

(AP Photo / Ron Frehm)
Most of the bio's online read very much alike.  The same information is basically there, some sites expounding a bit more than others.  Not to sound disrespectful to Charles, I was very relieved that most were rather short. Condensed.  They gave the usual 'born here-schooled there' tidbits, but there were a few bits of 'color', too.  Charles Samuel Addams, "Chill" to his pals (I love that...makes me really wish I had met the man), was born January 7, 1912, and grew up in Westfield, New Jersey.  I have never been to New Jersey.  Not that that little factoid adds anything here.  He attended public school in Westfield, and...I really like this...he was quite fond of visiting a Presbyterian cemetery on Mountain Avenue.  No idea where that is, but I do know the interest in visiting cemeteries (the evidence is here in my blog). Fascinating places filled with calm...great for clearing the head, and maybe even generating some story ideas.  If you are a writer, that is.  Here is another bit I especially like.  As a young boy, Charles was apprehended by police for breaking into a house on Dudley Avenue.  In the garage behind the main house on the floor of the second floor is a chalk drawing of a skeleton believed to be the artful work of Mr. Addams.  It was this Dudley house that would serve as a source of inspiration for the Addams Family house...the fictitious Addams family, that is.  Charles attended Westfield High, was art editor for what I can only imagine as the school literary magazine, a publication called the "Weather Vane".  Of course he drew many cartoons for the 'zine.  He attended a couple of colleges (yes, I am glossing over some stuff here), and ended up at the Grand Central School of Art in New York City.  Charles dreamed of working for the New Yorker.  He would start submitting cartoons to them in 1935.  In 1940 they finally wised up and asked him to work for them full time.  Charles Addams would work for the New Yorker until his death on September 9, 1988. During his time at the magazine he is said to have drawn over 1,300 cartoons.

I selected some of my favorites of the (Addams) Family to finish things off.  I have always thought they seemed like such lovely people.  Really.  I remember when I was a child, I wished that I could live in a house with the Addams Family living on one side, and the Munsters living on the other.  No way that life would be boring...

Happy posthumous birthday...Chill...

(The ones with captions are a tad hard to read, so I will include them below the panel where needed.)

"It's the children, darling - back from camp."


"Just the kind of day that makes you feel good to be alive."
(My favorite because I know just how he feels.)