"They're creepy and they're kooky," is how the catchy theme song of "The Addams Family" described everyone's favorite nonconformists - Morticia, Gomez, Lurch, Uncle Fester, Grandmama, Wednesday, and Pugsley. But for all the novelty of the sitcom based on Charles Addams's groundbreaking New Yorker
cartoons, Hollywood's Addams family paled beside the cartoonist's. "Not half as evil as my original characters," sighed Addams.
Though the haunted-household cartoons developed a following among New Yorker readers long before the 1960s sitcom, and the Addams and their seedy Victorian mansion soon became recognizable types, the artist with the well-known signature "Chas Addams" remained an enigma. Called "the Bela Lugosi of the cartoonists," Addams was the cartoonist everyone - even Hitchcock - wanted to meet. He was bedeviled by rumors. People claimed that he slept in a coffin, collected severed fingers sent by fans, and suffered bouts of madness that sent him to the insane asylum.
The true Addams was even more fabulous than the wildest stories and cartoons. Here was a sunny, funny urbane man, "a normal American boy," as he called himself, with a dog who hated children and a taste for crossbows. While producing a unique body of work featuring lovingly drawn homicidal spouses, demonic children, genteel monsters, and an everyday world crosshatched with magic, Addams raced classic sports cars, juggled beautiful women (Joan Fontaine, Jackie Kennedy, and Greta Garbo, to name a few), and charmed everyone. But though his pursuits suggest lighthearted romanticcomedy, Addams's life had its sinister side. Far darker than anything Addams created with a brush was his relationship with a dangerous woman who forever changed his life.