The Addamses are a satirical inversion of the ideal American family: an eccentric wealthy clan who delight in the macabre and are unaware, or do not care, that other people find them bizarre or frightening. They originally appeared as an unrelated group of 150 single-panel cartoons, about half of which were originally published in The New Yorker between their debut in 1938, and Addams’s death in 1988. They have since been adapted to other media, including television series (both live and animated), films, video games and a musical.
The Addams family’s mansion has had many different incarnations over the years. The mansion made its first appearance (at least, the interior did) at the same time as Morticia and Lurch, in one of Charles Addams’s cartoons. The house was depicted as being a dilapidated mansion that had been condemned (and was seemingly haunted, due to the strange creatures at the top of the staircase). Since then, it had become almost a character itself, and served as the main setting for the rest of the cartoons featuring the Addams family. Stories surrounding the mansion (in video games, primarily) are common, and the house’s origins and specific nature are explored more deeply in The New Addams Family than any other incarnation.
In the Addams Family TV Series (1964), the house was given an address: 0001 Cemetery Lane. Its design and the interior design were also changed. Instead of being a dilapidated house, it was now practically a museum filled with odd statues, trophies, and other interesting things. The house also sported a playroom with medieval racks, nailbeds, iron maidens, and stockades for “relaxing.” The house once again became a condemned mansion in the New Scooby-Doo Movies TV show, in which the Addamses made a guest appearance. In the following series, the mansion was mounted on a trailer and dragged all over the world with the globetrotting Addams clan.
The actual set that the Addams Family lived in was pink! The picture was taken by Richard Fish in 1964, a photographer and freelancer who took a number of on-location shots for publications such as Los Angeles Times Home magazine, Sunset magazine, Better Home and Gardens and Chicago Daily Sunset magazine. This particular picture was taken for TV Guide and reveals that the Addams Family set featured a very surprising palette of salmon, sea glass, buttercup, and more. Even Morticia’s famous rattan chair is, well, the color of rattan.
“Richard had such an interesting career photographing gardens and movie stars,” said Marie Fish, his widow. She donated Fish’s work to the Oviatt Library’s permanent collection.
There can be various reasons behind this contrast. Because the Addams Family was filmed in black and white, the colors for some of the items simply didn’t matter. Another reason was the way that black-and-white film registers certain colors when shooting. In other black-and-white films, characters often had to wear strange shades of lipstick (like brown or green) to get the right shades to appear on black-and-white film and many of the color choices on this strangely colorful Addams family set were probably deliberate – they all came together to create the dark and odd world.