Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Gomez by Any Other Name

Something I’d always wondered about: Why do all of the members of the Addams family have names that are sinister in one way or another except Gomez? Dark associations of Morticia, Fester, Cousin Itt, Thing and Lurch’s names are obvious. Wednesday gets her name from the line in the “Monday’s Child” poem — “Wednesday’s child is full of woe” — and Pugsley’s seems like a play on pugnacious or something thereabouts. But why should Gomez get a fairly normal name? A surname for a first name is hardly sinister.

Something I did not know: the members of the Addams family did not initially have first names. Only when the original Charles Addams comics were adapted for the 1964 TV show did the characters need to refer to each other. Addams chose all the character names himself, except for that of the family patriarch. For that one, he was considering both Gomez and Repelli, the former if the character were to be played as Spanish and the latter if Italian. According to the Wikipedia page, Addams left the final decision up to the actor who first played Gomez, John Astin, who chose to play the character as Castilian. Which is too bad, really, because Repelli strikes me as a better name and a better match for the rest of the family members’ unpleasantly themed names. So that explains where the name came from, at least, but not where Gomez came from or whether Charles Addams thought it had negative associations.

One more thing: The initial suggestion for Pugsley’s name, Pubert, was nixed by ABC, presumably because the network executives at the time didn’t realize that puberty is hilarious.

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