The Addams family is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic families in American history. Time Magazine went as far as saying that their cultural impact was akin to that of the Kennedys or Roosevelts.
Among the most popular of the Addams Family adaptations is the 1990s film series, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. The 1991 film The Addams Family was successful enough that a sequel was released two years later, with most of the original cast reprising their roles. Here are 30 fascinating facts about the 1993 film Addams Family Values.
30. Morticia gives birth in a coffin-shaped hospital bed
The film begins with Morticia giving birth to the latest Addams family member, Pubert Addams. The darkly comic scene sets the tone for the rest of the film, as frenzied doctors fumble with forceps and encourage Morticia (Anjelica Huston) to push. Unfazed, the Addams matriarch remains more concerned with flirting with her husband. When the doctor rushes her to the maternity ward and asks her to push, she merely flutters her eyelashes.
One small detail from the scene often goes unnoticed – if you look closely, you can see that Morticia’s hospital bed is in the shape of a coffin. It’s a tiny touch, but it shines as an example of the level of detail that went into the film.
29. Pubert Addams was played by twin girls
When Wednesday and Pugsley ask their father if their new sibling is a boy or a girl, Gomez simply responds “it’s an Addams!” However, the moustachioed baby – named Pubert – is ultimately revealed to be a boy. Despite this, the two babies used to play Pubert in the film were not boys.
The baby was actually portrayed by twin girls named Kaitlyn and Kristen Hooper, and when Pubert speaks, he’s voiced by the actress Cheryl Chase. The Hooper twins also appeared as Tim Taylor’s baby nieces in the TV sitcom Home Improvement. The character Pubert is pretty much indestructible, much to his siblings’ chagrin. For Pubert’s death-defying feats, there were four plastic puppets, one of which could be made to crawl into danger via radio control.
28. Carol Kane, who plays Grandmama, is almost a year younger than Anjelica Huston
Addams Family Values saw a new actress take on the role of Grandmama, Morticia’s magical elderly mother. While in the first Addams Family film, Judith Malina played Grandmama, the 66-year-old actress was not asked back for the sequel. Reportedly, Malina was snubbed over concerns that the role would prove too physically demanding for the ageing performer. For this reason, Carol Kane was given the role of Grandmamma in Addams Family Values, without the actress even being asked to audition.
Funnily enough, although Kane is supposed to be Huston’s aged mother, she was born in June 1952, while Huston is 11 months older, born in July 1951. This was not Kane’s first time behind old woman make-up; famously she portrays the wife of Billy Crystal’s Miracle Max in The Princess Bride.
27. Christina Ricci hated kissing David Krumholtz
Unusually, in Addams Family Values we see the aloof Wednesday Addams soften up slightly and develop a romance with the nerdy Joel Glicker at a summer camp. The two are separated when Wednesday and Pugsley escape from the loathed Camp Chippewa. But at the last moment, Wednesday and Joel share a farewell kiss. Christina Ricci, however, who starred as Wednesday, was not a fan of the kissing scene. Speaking to Buzzfeed in 2013, Joel’s actor David Krumholtz recalled how his co-star would complain about his facial hair.
“I remember Christina complaining that I had peach fuzz on my upper lip. She didn’t like that. And that made me really self-conscious,” he confessed. But Krumholtz looks back at shooting the scene fondly now: “I have an amazing list of women that I’ve kissed on film, but Christina will always be my first.”
26. The film features a reference to Back to the Future III
Although Christopher Lloyd makes an amazing Uncle Fester, he’s probably best known as Doc Brown from the Back to the Future trilogy. Tapping into this, Addams Family Values features a line that acts as a subtle nod to Lloyd’s more famous role. Near the end of the film, Uncle Fester meets a new love interest named Dementia. When Fester says “Dementia, what a beautiful name,” it’s in reference to one of Doc Brown’s memorable lines from Back to the Future III.
When Doc meets his love interest Clara, he says: “Clara, what a beautiful name.” By chance, Uncle Fester was Lloyd’s favourite cartoon character when he was a teenager, and he was “so excited” to get the role.
25. ‘Pubert’ was actually Addams Family creator Charles Addams’ first choice of name for Pugsley
No one in the Addams Family actually had a name until the 1964 TV series – Charles Addams’ original cartoon characters were notably nameless. It was only when producers began adapting the cartoons for the small screen that the creator was asked to come up with names for his characters. Pubert was the name Charles Addams originally suggested for Pugsley, but this was rejected due to fears that TV censors wouldn’t approve of the name. It sounded too much like ‘puberty’, which was deemed an inappropriate word – though it would have been more appropriate for the tween Pugsley than for a baby.
30-odd years later, Pubert Addams was brought to life in the Addams Family Values movie. The films and TV shows also spawned a range of other named characters who didn’t exist in the cartoons – such as Cousin Itt and Morticia’s hippie sister Ophelia Frump.
24. Marisa Tomei was considered for the role of Debbie
Much of the film revolves around Fester’s doomed affair with murderous gold digger Debbie Jellinsky. She secures a spot in the household as a nanny, and is suspiciously comfortable with the Addams’ ghoulish lifestyle. But we soon discover that she is planning to seduce Uncle Fester before killing him on their wedding night and taking her cut of the Addams’ money. Joan Cusack landed the role and her performance was hugely successful, receiving a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
However, before producers settled on Cusack, Oscar-winning actress Marisa Tomei was considered for the role. Tomei had recently won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in My Cousin Vinny. Instead of Addams Family Values, she starred in the romantic drama Untamed Heart alongside Christian Slater.
23. Mercedes McNab, who plays Amanda, is in the first Addams Family film as a different character
Mercedes McNab plays Wednesday’s nemesis Amanda Buckman in Addams Family Values. But this wasn’t McNab’s first time working alongside Christina Ricci on an Addams Family film. In the 1991 movie, McNab plays an unnamed girl scout who comes up to Wednesday and Pugsley’s lemonade stand. This brief scene, in which she interrogates the Addams children on whether their lemonade is “all natural” or not, proved to be one of the most memorable moments from the original film.
Despite this, McNab did have to audition for the role of Amanda, but it’s testament to her acting ability that she won the part anyway. This Canadian actress later won fame as Harmony Kendall in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.
22. There’s a shot of Amanda alive at the end because test audiences thought Wednesday actually killed her
The film takes care to show Amanda Buckman (Mercedes McNab) alive and well after her encounter with Wednesday at camp. Towards the end of the film, when baby Pubert battles against the villainous Debbie, he’s catapulted into the sky. As he soars, we see a brief shot of Amanda and her parents flying home from the camp in a plane.
This scene was only included because test audiences genuinely believed that Wednesday had killed Amanda in the film. Wednesday famously improvises her own ending to the camp’s Thanksgiving play, resulting in Amanda being tied to a stake and Wednesday lighting a match before the scene cuts. Some test audiences thought that Wednesday had actually murdered Amanda by burning her at the stake, and so producers included the plane scene to reassure viewers.
21. The lake Amanda ‘drowns’ in was heated
One of the funniest scenes from the film sees Wednesday and Amanda paired up in a swimming exercise in which Wednesday must save Amanda from ‘drowning.’ Naturally, Wednesday waits until Amanda has jumped into the lake before informing the camp counsellor that she can’t swim. The crew heated the dockside part of the lake for McNab so she wouldn’t get hypothermia while shooting the scene.
Speaking to Buzzfeed in 2013, the actress revealed: “When we shot the scene where I had to jump in the lake, it was freezing that day. “And I remember it was very fancy because they heated the lake for me, which I didn’t know they could do,” she remembered. Amanda’s other major scene, the Thanksgiving play, was a similarly complicated undertaking – it took about two weeks to film.
20. One of the ‘happy hut’ films, Annie, was directed by Anjelica Huston’s father
After misbehaving at Camp Chippewa, Wednesday, Pugsley and their new friend Joel are shut away in the Harmony Hut. This isolation block is decked out with plush toys and motivational posters, creating the Addams children’s personal hell. In a brainwashing stunt, the camp directors force the trio to watch heart-warming films and TV shows day and night in this secluded hut. Along with The Brady Bunch and The Sound of Music, we overhear a clip of Annie.
This 1982 musical classic was in fact directed by John Huston, the father of Morticia actress Anjelica Huston. Morticia’s children listen to the uplifting Annie song Tomorrow just as their ordeal comes to an end.
19. It was the last of Raul Julia’s films to be released in his lifetime
Raul Julia stars as the charming father Gomez in both The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values. This Puerto Rican actor adopted a posh English accent and Italian exclamations for the role. After fighting stomach cancer for three years, the 54-year-old actor died from stroke complications the year after Addams Family Values was released. In a review for the Chicago Sun-Times, critic Roger Ebert praised Gomez’s “beguiling” relationship with Morticia in Addams Family Values.
“Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston are given a lot of one-liners and payoff gags, of course, but what’s funny is the stuff that comes in between,” he wrote. “The real affection with which they embrace each other, and the way they delight in their unspeakable lifestyle.” Julia also starred in the action film Street Fighter, which was released posthumously.
18. Wednesday Addams has a strange creature at the foot of her bed
As prospective nannies visit Pugsley and Wednesday, the children sit sullenly on Wednesday’s bed. You may have noticed that at the foot of the bed, there is an engraving of a creature with tentacles – also seen in 1991’s The Addams Family. It wouldn’t be out of character for Wednesday to pick Cthulhu, the ancient and tentacled monster invented by HP Lovecraft, for her bedroom décor. But it could alternatively be a pet portrait. Although no pets appear in Addams Family Values, Wednesday has a host of eight-legged companions in the original TV series.
In one episode, Wednesday tells a visiting lady that the Addams family is having trouble with Aristotle, the family’s octopus who terrorises the neighbours. Wednesday also writes loving poetry to her pet spider Homer. In the 1983 animated series The Addams Family, she acquires a second pet octopus named Ocho.
17. Thing is played by a magician
Thing T. Thing is a staple of the Addams family. This apparently disembodied hand appears throughout Addams Family Values, and it is Gomez’s loyal assistant. This appendage is played by the hand of the Canadian magician Christopher Hart, who worked with David Copperfield on his famous Great Wall of China stunt. Although Thing freely skateboards around the house, takes part in hand wrestling competitions and even drives a car in this film, he was far less mobile in the original Addams TV show and cartoons.
In fact, Thing’s backstory is that his whole body is too hideous to behold. Thing hides away in improbably small spaces, like a coffee table and a mail box, and only ever shows his hand (and occasionally his forearm). In the TV show, Thing was played by Ted Cassidy, who also played the butler Lurch. Improvements in special effects gave the Addams Family Values producers the opportunity to reinvent Thing’s hand as a free-moving creature, scuttling in a spider-like manner.
16. The Addams Mansion wallpaper changes throughout the film
Although the Addams Mansion master bedroom only crops up a couple of times in Addams Family Values, an intriguing change comes over it over the course of the film. Near the start, as Wednesday and Pugsley drop a cannonball and their baby brother from the roof of the house, we have our first shot of Morticia’s and Gomez’s bedroom. Gomez is fortunately stretching by his window, and by chance he intercepts his plummeting newborn.
In the background, the bedroom wallpaper has a repetitive print of small plants – but in true Addams family style, the plants are wilting weeds. The next time we see the film, after Wednesday and Pugsley have gone to summer camp, the wall weeds have inexplicably become much healthier. Towards the end of the film, when Gomez lies in bed dolorously singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, the wallpaper plants have once again wilted.
15. Gomez and Morticia’s tango is a variation on the original Addams Family song
“They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky. They’re altogether ooky: the Addams Family,” sang the famous composer Vic Mizzy in the original TV theme. Mizzy wrote the song, played the harpsichord in the background and overdubbed his voice three times to create the iconic tune. In Addams Family Values, there’s a stylish reference to the old theme song when Debbie and Fester go out for a double date with Gomez and Morticia.
Gomez and Morticia show off with a spectacular tango in the French restaurant. As the loving couple throw knives and perform backflips, they dance to an orchestral rendition of the Addams Family theme. Another snippet of the theme is heard right at the beginning of the film, as the butler Lurch is practising the organ.
14. Morticia is lit differently from every other character
Morticia Addam’s otherworldly look is achieved not just through glimmering gowns and chalky makeup, but also through some old-fashioned lighting techniques. In many scenes, while the other characters are lit in a more natural glow, a single and very bright beam falls on Morticia’s face. This beam is used in both the 1991 and 1993 Addams Family films, and is actually a parody of an old and popular cinematic technique. In earlier cinema, a single beam was sometimes used to illuminate a character’s face in a moment of intense feeling – and Morticia’s intensity is always at its maximum level.
The bright lighting helped to capture Morticia’s cartoony essence, as well as giving her some of the old-school glamour and melodrama of early film stars. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2018, the Lurch actor Carel Struycken said that in Addams Family Values, he had “never seen more complex lighting.”
13. Gomez is horrified that his son might become a lawyer – but in the TV series, Gomez himself was a lawyer
When a sunny transformation befalls the baby Pubert after Fester’s departure, the Addams family are deeply concerned. As the infant turns into a blond, rosy-cheeked and smiley baby, Gomez and Morticia call in Grandmama to diagnose their child’s malaise. Grandmama’s divinations lead to an awful discovery: unbridled, their baby’s changes could lead him to become a “lawyer”, an “orthodontist”, or even the President.
At this suggestion, Gomez cries, “I won’t listen!” and he sobs to the heavens, “Please, I beg you, take me!” Funnily enough, in the original TV show Gomez (played by John Astin) was himself a retired lawyer, though it’s implied that he wasn’t very successful in his profession. In the 1991 film The Addams Family, Gomez’s own lawyer Tully Alford deceives the family to escape a loan shark.
12. Camp Chippewa was filmed in two real California summer camps
The Camp Chippewa scenes feature two real summer camps in Sequoia National Park, California. As the Addams family first brings the disgusted Wednesday and Pugsley to the camp, filming took place at Camp Sequoia. The pageant scenes, in contrast, were filmed at Camp Tulequoia, which is on the opposite side of the lake from Camp Sequoia. As a result, both settings show off the spectacular lake backdrop – just from different angles. As they arrive at the camp, Wednesday Addams sullenly jokes that Chippewa means ‘orphan.’
But Chippewa is actually the name of a Native American nation, sometimes written as ‘Ojibwe.’ The film goes to great lengths to parody Native American appropriation, particularly in the abysmal Thanksgiving play written by the camp directors.
11. An acclaimed choreographer orchestrated the terrible turkey dance
During the Thanksgiving pageant, Pugsley reluctantly breaks into dance – whilst dressed as a turkey along with the other children. “Eat us, ‘cos we’re good and dead!” the children sing in this number entitled ‘A Turkey Named Brotherhood.’ To really capture the moment’s comedy, the producers hired Adam Shankman, an expert choreographer, producer and director, for the children’s dance. He brought his background in musical theatre to the scene, with the extras performing mock-ballet moves and leaps.
Shankman would later direct the 2007 Hairspray movie and Rock of Ages in 2012. He has also worked as a choreographer on Friends, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
10. The film’s director makes a cameo as Joel’s father
We first catch a glimpse of Joel’s parents as the Addams family arrives at the summer camp. The pair fuss over Joel, telling him to stand up straight. Joel’s father is played by Barry Sonnenfeld, who directed both Addams Family Values and The Addams Family (1991), and went on to helm the Men in Black films. Meanwhile Amanda’s doting mother, whose daughter secures the star role in the pageant, is played by the actress Harriet Sansom Harris. In the same year, Harris rose to fame as Bebe Glazer, the devious talent agent in the TV show Frasier – which perhaps explains why Amanda’s mother glows with pride at her daughter’s performance.
Among the campers is stunt performer and actor Alex Gaona, who plays one of the children dressed as Native Americans. These younger children are the outcasts of the summer camp, treated far worse by the camp directors than the popular Amanda and her ilk. During the 90s, Gaona performed stunts in Hook, The Flintstones, The Usual Suspects and City of Angels.
9. The film refers to horror movies like The Fly and Carrie
The macabre laughs in Addams Family Values sometimes go deeper into the horror genre, parodying famously chilling moments from famous films. When Joel pays his respects at Debbie’s grave, at the very final moment, a hand bursts from the soil to seize his wrist and make him scream. This jump scare is inspired by the final scene of the 1976 classic Carrie, one of the most widely imitated shock endings in film history.
Likewise, when Wednesday Addams meets Debbie for the first time, the script slips in a horror reference. As Morticia introduces the new nanny, and prompts her children, “What do we say?”, Wednesday says to Debbie: “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” This line is from The Fly, and it was also famously used as the 1986 body-horror film’s promotional tagline.
8. Gomez mixes a traditional ‘Prairie Oyster’ for his baby
The morning after Uncle’s Hester’s bachelor party, Gomez regroups with his new-born baby, who is sporting sunglasses. Gomez proceeds to mix a traditional hangover cure and present it in a bottle to the tiny tot. He adds vodka, a raw egg and a dash of Worcestershire sauce to the concoction. He’s making a Prairie Oyster, so-called because it contains an unbroken egg yolk that feels like an oyster when swallowed.
It was invented in the late 1800s, and it quickly became popular among revelers in New England. Much earlier in the film, Pubert’s unusual tastes are revealed as he almost eats his grandfather’s loose eyeballs.
7. The rap duo Tag Team created an Addams Family remix of their chart-topping hit
Tag Team’s famous song Whoomp! (There It Is) achieved massive success in 1993, the year of Addams Family Value’s release. Considered a one-hit wonder, the song took the Number 1 spot on the Billboard Hot R&B charts. Soon after the film came out, Tag Team were hired to produce a remix of the song with the Addams Family theme. They re-wrote the song in praise of the Addams Family members, rapping, “Back again, the Addams Family. New baby in the house makes three.”
Christina Ricci and Jimmy Workman reprise their roles as Wednesday and Pugsley in the Tag Team music video, which shows a house party in an Addams-esque mansion. The song received the spoof Razzie Award for Worst Original Song in 1994. It appears on the film’s soundtrack album as Addams Family (Whoomp!).
6. It’s the film debut of actress Monet Mazur
Addams Family Values includes two extras who went on to achieve fame in Hollywood. Monet Mazur, who is now known for her performances in The House Bunny and the TV series All American, had her film debut in Addams Family Values as a woman who flirts with Gomez in the French restaurant. Among the other extras is Cynthia Nixon, who would later win an Emmy for playing Miranda in Sex and the City.
She plays one of three potential nannies who are frightened off by Pugsley and Wednesday. The film also features a cameo from the actor Nathan Lane, who plays a police officer. Lane has a close connection to the franchise: he starred as Gomez Addams in the 2010 Broadway musical The Addams Family.
5. The title Addams Family Values is partly a political parody
In the early 90s, the phrase “family values” was frequently used by conservative Americans, often to champion Christian beliefs and traditional nuclear family life. Since its inception, the Addams family has served not only as a source of macabre and ridiculous humour, but also to show that familial love can take many forms. This film often plays with the notion of “values”, showing the Addams family to be far more compassionate than the more conventional Amanda or the summer camp directors. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Anjelica Huston said the film was “definitely a political commentary.”
Her character Morticia Addams parodies the stresses of modern motherhood, telling Gomez, “I’m just like any modern woman, trying to have it all: a loving husband, a family. It’s just I wish I had more time to seek out the dark forces and join their hellish crusade, that’s all,” she says wistfully.
4. The Addams’ Victorian style is inspired by cartoonist Charles Addams’ hometown
Perhaps the most vivid Victorian influence on the Addams family is Wednesday’s and Pugsley’s swimwear. While the other children at Camp Chippewa wear matching blue trunks and orange swimsuits, Wednesday and Pugsley dress in black Victorian outfits that cover their shoulders. But these outfits aren’t the only Victorian element to this Gothic family’s lifestyle, or even their only Victorian clothes. Morticia and Wednesday wear long black gowns and veils, albeit with a splash of red nail polish. The Addams Mansion has mostly Victorian and Edwardian furnishings, and barely any modern amenities (though Debbie does watch television alone in her bedroom).
Charles Addams first had the idea to design an old-fashioned-looking family thanks to his hometown of Westfield in New Jersey. The area is famed for its opulent Victorian mansions and sprawling graveyards, just like the Addams cemetery where Debbie and Fester tie the knot.
3. Addams Family Values didn’t perform nearly as well at the box office as its predecessor
After a troubled production, director Barry Sonnenfeld’s first Addams Family film was a big hit, grossing over $113 million at the box office. Unfortunately, follow-up film Addams Family Values wound up falling far short of its predecessor’s success. It earned just under $50 million, just barely recouping its budget of $47 million and rendering it a flop.
In spite of this, Addams Family Values was warmly received by critics, and there were plans to make a third film in the series. However, these trilogy plans were canned when Gomez actor Raul Julia sadly passed away. The next Addams Family film was the direct-to-video Addams Family Reunion, which replaced almost all of the cast and was distributed by Warner Bros rather than the original Paramount.
2. Debbie uses fictional number plates
No one can say that Joan Cusack’s nefarious Debbie doesn’t know how to travel in style. Capitalising as fast as she can on her husband’s fortune, she buys two fancy cars amid her efforts to murder him. One of these is a Lincoln Town Car, whilst the other is a Mercedes-Benz SL-Class. Both bear the personalised number plate DEBBIE-1, but they both bear a fictional design.
The slogan for New York license plates is “The Empire State”, whereas Debbie’s read simply “A Nice State.” The colours, too, are changed: traditional New York plates are stamped in white and red, with a Statue of Liberty outline, whereas these ones are green and white.
1. Morticia Addams is very concerned about children’s literature
In Addams Family Values, we see Debbie’s nefarious influence as Pubert’s nursery is transformed into a pastel paradise. But Debbie doesn’t just change the decorations – she also gets to work on Pubert himself, reading Cinderella to him and turning his hair a striking blond. Later, Morticia Addams morosely reads Pubert The Cat in the Hat, concerned by the change in her son. She skips to the end and is crestfallen, muttering, “Oh no! He lives.”
This reading scene refers to Morticia’s long-running crusade against classic children’s books. In the 1991 film The Addams Family, Morticia works as a primary school teacher and reduces the classroom to tears as she retells Hansel and Gretel from the witch’s perspective. In the original TV series, Gomez and Morticia are horrified at the demise of villains in fairy tales. They persuade their children’s school to take such violent stories out of the classroom reading material.