Jackie Coogan auditioned for the role of the strange Uncle Fester in the sixties television series, but the producers turned him down. Still, Coogan wasn’t going to be stopped just because they had said no.
After the audition, he shaved his head, came up with his own costume, and did his own makeup before coming back in to beg for another audition. His efforts proving he could look the part, as well as his acting chops, got him the role. We don’t know if Jackie Coogan was able to power light bulbs by placing them into his mouth, but we doubt it.
Acting Insane as a Defense
During the sixty-four episodes of the original "Addams Family" television show, Gomez Addams frequently has a twisted, strange, even maniacal look on his face. This expression was an invention of actor John Astin, and he came to it in an unexpected manner.
While Astin was living in New York City, he had a residence in a rougher part of town. In order to keep people from harassing him as he walked from his apartment to the subway, he would act a little insane. You have to admit it; if you saw a person acting “a little insane” on the street, you probably wouldn't bother him, either.
The Addams Family first came about as a cartoon that was published in “The New Yorker” magazine, but that relationship has had some periods where things were strained. Just like any relationship, when you think about it. Once “Addams Family” started getting shown on television, “The New Yorker” editor William Shawn refused to print any more cartoons.
He believed it cheapened the magazine but still published other cartoons by the same creator. However, once Shawn retired in 1987, the magazine immediately started printing the cartoon again, proving that not everybody agreed with his assessment – if anybody did in the first place.
Made for the TV Show
Most of the Addams family came to the “New Yorker” fully formed back in the thirties, but there's one exception. Cousin Itt – from Gomez's side of the family, was added to the television show in the sixties. It came at the suggestion of producer David Levy, though the reason for this is unknown.
Charles Addams eventually provided sketches of the character. Unlike the rest of the family, Cousin Itt doesn't live in the house, but he does frequently visit and has his own room when he wants to stay the night. Nobody knows what he looks like under all that hair, and we aren't likely to find out.
Left or Right?
During the television show, Thing was portrayed by actor Ted Cassidy, who also played Lurch. Seeing as how Thing was just a hand, you'd think that it would be nothing more than having your hand come out of a box to point at things for a joke.
And, well, that's more or less what the job was all about. Cassidy would sometimes get a bit bored doing it, so – without telling anyone – he would switch hands. We imagine it was caught during editing, but nobody really minded that much. You can also see Cassidy's arm during a few select shots when Thing reaches out of his box.