Ahh, Carolyn Jones. Raven-haired, pouty-lipped, wasp-waisted, curvy-hipped Carolyn Jones, hands down the best Morticia Addams ever.
In the interest of full disclosure, this was not my first crush. That most dubious of honors goes to Pattie Schwartzmiller, my brother’s babysitter. Not mine of course. Every inch the fine fellow at age 9, I was plenty self-sufficient, just not quite self-sufficient enough to supervise my 7-year-old brother.
Pattie was also one of several individuals pivotal to my indoctrination into the horror world (well before such indoctrination may have been emotionally and psychologically healthy). If my parents were going to be out late, Pattie would let me stay up and watch Chiller Theater hosted by WIIC’s Chilly Billy Cardille.
To be completely aboveboard, Morticia was not my first crush on a fictional character either. See, my uncle Dave, another of those pivotal individuals, had a truly impressive comic book collection. Not in terms of numbers as much as titles.
So while most of my friends were filching copies of Penthouse from the dark recesses of their fathers’ closets (or in one guy’s case, his old man’s toolbox), I was reading pre-Comics Code issues of Tales From The Crypt and Vault Of Horror along with Vampirella (fictional character crush #1).
Yeah, I was that kid.
There were two other horror shows in the ‘burgh as well, Thing Theater and Ghost Host, both hosted by dudes. Okay, Chiller would eventually add the hair-tastic Terminal Stare, and Scorpio was mildly androgynous, but let’s stay focused here, shall we?
My point is, while my hormone-addled peers drooled over their ill-gotten booty (so to speak), there was nary a siren whose song struck the somber chords of my already shadowy heart.
Vampira? Before my time. Elvira? Still a few years off. Vampirella? Pen and ink.
Where was I to turn?
Thank all that is dark and unholy for WPTT, the UHF station that ran The Addams Family. Morticia Addams right there in my living room every afternoon. Swoon.
Morticia, however, was far more than her appearance, and my fascination transcended the merely physical.
Morticia was witty. She was charming. And she was, gasp, smart which was what made her so alluring. This was a woman in total control. Her cool tolerance of Gomez’s amorous advances, her almost amused detachment, her croon of “Thank you, Thing,” all irresistible.
Not bad for a character Charles Addams drew in the 1930s (making her the longest running of the wisecracking pop culture Queens Of Darkness).
Much, in fact, is owed to Morticia in general. Without her there’s no Vampira. No Vampira, no Elvira. And really, what is Vampirella but a scantily clad, voluptuous, ass-kicking superhero Tish? And I defy anyone to prove that Anne Hathaway didn’t learn a thing or two about hand position from Ms. Jones.
So, Daryl Hannah? Stick with the eye patch. Anjelica Huston? Close, but no cyanide.
No, it seems a small part of me will always cling the televised Morticia Addams of the 1960s in all of her crystal black and white clarity. And even though I started reading Baudealaire at 13, Morticia was the real reason I took French in high school.