Paramount
Paramount

13 Creepy, Kooky Facts About The Addams Family 

Paramount
Paramount

Starting in 1938, Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Grandmama, Wednesday, Pugsley, and Thing appeared in The New Yorker in a series of cartoons by Charles Addams. After two seasons in the mid-'60s as a sitcom, then two more as a Saturday morning cartoon in the '70s, the adventures of the strange, morbid Addams family seemed destined to solely exist in illustration form. Then, after Charles Addams' passing in 1988, even the cartoons stopped—but in 1991, The Addams Family movie brought the pale gang to the cinema. Here are a few things you might not have known about the film.

1. THE IDEA TO BRING BACK THE ADDAMS FAMILY CAME FROM A CAR RIDE.

Scott Rudin, head of production at 20th Century Fox, was riding in a van with other company executives one day after a movie screening. "Everyone was there—(studio chiefs) Barry Diller and Leonard Goldberg and (marketing chief) Tom Sherak—when Tom's kid started singing 'The Addams Family' theme," Rudin told the LA Times. "And suddenly everyone in the van was singing the theme, letter perfect, note for note." The next day, Rudin proposed to Diller and Goldberg that they make an Addams Family movie—and they went for it.

2. MC HAMMER WROTE AN AWARD-WINNING SONG FOR THE MOVIE.

The "Addams Groove" music video played before the film during its first few weeks in theaters. The final track on Too Legit to Quit would end up being MC Hammer's last visit to the top 10 of the Billboard singles charts in the U.S. It also won the 1991 Golden Raspberry for Worst Original Song, beating out fellow nominees "Why Was I Born (Freddy's Dead)" by Iggy Pop, and Vanilla Ice's "Cool as Ice."

3. ANTHONY HOPKINS TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF FESTER.

Hopkins instead opted to play Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs (he got the role after Sean Connery was initially approached). Hopkins would win the Best Actor Oscar for his performance.

4. TIM BURTON WAS INITIALLY SET TO DIRECT.

Burton had worked with Addams Family screenwriters Caroline Thompson and Larry Wilson on previous projects, but ended up not taking the job. Almost 20 years later, Burton was rumored to be developing a 3D stop-motion animated Addams Family movie, but it was announced last year that he was off the project.

5. IT WAS BARRY SONNENFELD'S DIRECTORIAL DEBUT.

The Addams Family was Barry Sonnenfeld's directorial debut, but he had experience as a cinematographer on films like Blood Simple, Big, Raising Arizona, Misery, When Harry Met Sally..., and Miller's Crossing. After his agent told him that he would lick a carpet if he couldn't find him a directing job within one year, he found Sonnenfeld a seemingly plum first time assignment helming a high profile movie (in less than a year). As a joke, Scott Rudin let it be known to Sonnenfeld that he wasn't his first choice by putting a different director's name on the back of the director's chair every morning on set. Some of the names that replaced Sonnenfeld's were Joe Dante, Terry Gilliam, David Lynch, and Rudin's first choice, Tim Burton.

6. SONNENFELD FAINTED DURING SHOOTING.

Three weeks into directing, Sonnenfeld was talking to a studio executive who was concerned about the budget for the film when he felt a "tremendous pressure" in his chest, "as if someone was blowing up a balloon inside me," then passed out. He also dealt with sciatica during filming, and had to shut down the Los Angeles production for several days when his wife needed major surgery in New York.

7. THERE WAS A "BLACK CLOUD" HANGING OVER THE MOVIE.

Owen Roizman, the film's cinematographer, quit to work on another movie shortly after Sonnenfeld's fainting incident. His replacement, Gayl Tattersoll, stopped production for a couple of days when he needed to be hospitalized for a sinus infection, and never returned. Sonnenfeld ended up doing the job himself. In front of the camera, a blood vessel burst in the eye of Raul Julia, the actor who played Gomez. These incidents led the future Get Shorty and Men In Black director to say that he felt like there was a "pervasive black cloud" hanging over the movie.

8. THERE WAS AN ACTOR REBELLION, LED BY 10-YEAR-OLD CHRISTINA RICCI.

The actors were concerned about the ambiguity of the big Fester storyline in the script. Initially, it was going to be unknown if Gordon, the man suffering from memory loss that looked just like Uncle Fester, was actually Fester. The actors nominated Wednesday Addams herself, Christina Ricci, to give an impassioned plea to Rudin and Sonnenfeld two weeks before shooting that Fester should not be an imposter. Sonnenfeld remembered that the only actor to not care was Christopher Lloyd, the man playing Fester.

9. ANJELICA HUSTON WATCHED "GREY GARDENS" TO PLAY MORTICIA.

Cher was interested in playing Morticia, but Huston was producer Rudin's first choice. Huston, who grew up in Ireland, was more familiar with the Charles Addams drawings than the old TV show, and decided it would be pointless to try and replicate actress Carolyn Jones' "ideal" portrayal of Morticia anyway. The future Academy Award winner turned to the 1975 documentary Grey Gardens—a movie about the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy who lived in a deteriorating mansion filled with garbage and animal waste—for inspiration instead.

10. HUSTON HAD TO GO THROUGH A LOT TO GET INTO CHARACTER.

''Morticia has a shape only a cartoonist can draw,'' Sonnenfeld told Entertainment Weekly, ''so we lashed Anjelica into a metal corset that created this hips-and-waist thing I've never seen any woman have in reality.'' The role also required Huston to get gauze eye lifts, neck tucks, and fake nails daily. ''Come afternoon, I could be prone to a really good headache from my various bondages,'' she told EW. ''And because I couldn't lie down (in the corset) or rest, it was fairly exhausting.''

11. THE COMPANY FINANCING THE MOVIE SOLD IT WHILE IT WAS BEING FILMED.

Because Orion Pictures had the rights to The Addams Family, they were the ones responsible for financing and potentially releasing the movie. Even though there were some budget concerns, selling the movie to another company was something Rudin and Sonnenfeld had not even considered. But three-quarters of the way through filming, Rudin was informed that Orion had sold the movie to Paramount by Hollywood Reporter writer Andrea King. Even though Rudin was also working on a movie at the time with Paramount, in addition with having phone conversations daily with Orion over The Addams Family, he had absolutely no idea.

12. "VALLEY BOYS" CUT THE BIG MUSICAL NUMBER.

Initially "The Mamushka" scene was much longer, and it featured Gomez and Fester singing about brotherly love. Even though Broadway veterans were hired to write the traditional Addams clan number, most of the scene was cut because a California test audience mostly composed of 16- to 32-year-old white males didn't care for it.

13. THE STUDIOS WERE SUED AS SOON AS THE MOVIE CAME OUT.

David Levy, the executive producer of the old Addams Family TV series, sued Paramount and Orion after the movie was released to surprising commercial success. Levy claimed that too many of his ideas, which were originally from his show and not from the Charles Addams cartoons, were used in the movie. Levy, who still owned the rights to the TV show, created specific character quirks and concepts that were used in the movie, such as Gomez' love of blowing up toy trains, and Thing being a disembodied hand, as opposed to being a normal background character in the cartoons. Paramount and Levy ultimately settled out of court.

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These Sparrows Have Been Singing the Same Songs for 1500 Years
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iStock

Swamp sparrows are creatures of habit—so much so that they’ve been chirping out the same few tunes for more than 1500 years, Science magazine reports.

These findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, resulted from an analysis of the songs of 615 adult male swamp sparrows found in six different areas of the northeastern U.S. Researchers learned that young swamp sparrows pick up these songs from the adults around them and are able to mimic the notes with astounding accuracy.

Here’s what one of their songs sounds like:

“We were able to show that swamp sparrows very rarely make mistakes when they learn their songs, and they don't just learn songs at random; they pick up commoner songs rather than rarer songs,” Robert Lachlan, a biologist at London’s Queen Mary University and the study’s lead author, tells National Geographic.

Put differently, the birds don’t mimic every song their elders crank out. Instead, they memorize the ones they hear most often, and scientists say this form of “conformist bias” was previously thought to be a uniquely human behavior.

Using acoustic analysis software, researchers broke down each individual note of the sparrows’ songs—160 different syllables in total—and discovered that only 2 percent of sparrows deviated from the norm. They then used a statistical method to determine how the songs would have evolved over time. With recordings from 2009 and the 1970s, they were able to estimate that the oldest swamp sparrow songs date back 1537 years on average.

The swamp sparrow’s dedication to accuracy sets the species apart from other songbirds, according to researchers. “Among songbirds, it is clear that some species of birds learn precisely, such as swamp sparrows, while others rarely learn all parts of a demonstrator’s song precisely,” they write.

According to the Audubon Guide to North American Birds, swamp sparrows are similar to other sparrows, like the Lincoln’s sparrow, song sparrow, and chipping sparrow. They’re frequently found in marshes throughout the Northeast and Midwest, as well as much of Canada. They’re known for their piercing call notes and may respond to birders who make loud squeaking sounds in their habitat.

[h/t Science magazine]

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18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer
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iStock

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. ROSÉ WINE GLASSES; $60

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE; $25

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Hasbro Toy Shop

3. BUSHEL & BERRY PLANTS; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. INFLATABLE DONUT; $17

Doughnut float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. STAR SPANGLED SPATULA; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked ... with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. MLB HOT DOG BRANDERS; $8 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. UNA GRILL; $139

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, after hitting up MoMA, or anywhere in between.

Find It: MoMa Shop

8. HAMBURGER GRILLING BASKET; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon

9. COPPER FIRE PIT; $121

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. BENDY STRAW POOL NOODLE FLOAT; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. GRIDDLER DELUXE; $111

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. VINTAGE SNOW CONE MAKER; $30

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. DACHSHUND CORN ON THE COB HOLDERS; $7

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. ICE CREAM SANDWICH MAKER; $16

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. UE WONDERBOOM; $68

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. ROLLORS GAME; $38

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. HAMMOCK; $174

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS; $59

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Amazon

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