Explaining The Addams Family's Hispanic And Latino History From The Comic Strip To Wednesday

The Addams Family has returned to live action in a big way with Tim Burton’s new Netflix series, Wednesday. The spinoff focuses on the morbid-minded daughter of the family, played by Jenna Ortega, and features the first predominantly Latino Addams family, with Luis Guzmán as Gomez and Isaac Ordonez as Pugsley. With the latest iteration of the Addams family here, this question is sure to come up: Was The Addams Family always supposed to be Latino? 

The answer is complicated. For many years The Addams Family has Hispanic and Latin roots, but hasn’t fully embraced them until Wednesday. In order to understand why Wednesday casting Latino actors makes sense and perhaps better represents the kooky and spooky family, let’s take a look down memory lane for the character’s history. 

The New Yorker The Addams Family cartoon

(Image credit: The New Yorker)

The Addams Family Comic Strip

The Addams Family got its start between the pages of The New Yorker in 1938 as cartoons by Charles Addams. Addams regularly brought the family together for punchlines for the magazine, but they didn’t even have first names. 58 of Addams’ thousands of illustrations for the magazine featured the family and were published in the ‘40s and ‘50s. This original iteration of the Addams family did not have any Latino or Hispanic origins attached to it, just a family of ghoulish characters with one off gags for readers to laugh at between reading news articles and such in the magazine. 

Carolyn Jones, John Astin, Jackie Coogan, Ted Cassidy, Blossom Rock, Lisa Loring, and Ken Weatherwax in The Addams Family

(Image credit: MGM Television)

The Original Addams Family TV Series 

Then came the iconic ‘60s television series. The black comedy sitcom began the Hispanic origins of The Addams Family when Charles Addams left the name choice up to the series’ actor, John Astin, who went with “Gomez” rather than Addams’ preferred given name of Repelli (a play on the word repellent), per The Smithsonian Magazine. As Astin told the Ocala Star-Banner in 1965, he was given “free rein” to inject the “Latin-lover blood in Gomez’s veins” with his portrayal of the character for the first time outside his cartoons. 

Clearly the ‘60s was a different time and a white man portraying a Castilian Spain stereotype would not fly today, but that’s how the Addams family’s Hispanic roots truly got its start. The Addams Family found mainstream popularity in the ‘60s and ‘70s, despite the show itself only running two seasons. Through syndication, it continued to be part of popular culture and the family were featured in animation through Scooby-Doo a couple of times. Additionally, in 1977, the original cast returned for a made-for-TV movie, called Halloween with the New Addams Family

Christopher Lloyd, Anjelica Huston, and Raul Julia in The Addams Family

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

The ‘90s Addams Family Movies

The Addams Family then found a resurgence in the ‘90s with Barry Sonnenfeld’s two movies, 1991’s The Addams Family and 1993’s Addams Family Values. In this iteration, Puerto Rican actor Raúl Juliá played Gomez, Anjelica Huston played Morticia, Christina Ricci was Wednesday and Christopher Lloyd was Uncle Fester among other The Addams Family cast members. With Raul Juliá’s role as Gomez, the Addams family certainly became truer to its Hispanic origins, though the rest of the family was rather culturally ambiguous – Ricci and Huston for example have mixed Italian and Scottish ancestry. 

That being said, with Juliá as Gomez certainly brought some Latino representation to the franchise. Teen Vogue’s Ella Cerón recalled the Hollywood father being the “first time” she ever saw her own dad “reflected back” to her on the big screen and meant something to her, despite his heritage not being directly addressed in either movies. 

Morticia and Gomez in the animated 2019 The Addams Family

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The Addams Family 3D Animated Movies

The Addams Family found themselves a comeback in 2019 with the computer-animated version from MGM. In this Addams family, Guatemalan actor Oscar Isaac voiced the role of Gomez, while Charlize Theron voiced Morticia, Chloë Grace Moretz voiced Wednesday and Finn Wolfhard voiced Pugsley. With that casting, the latest Addams Family kept the same cultural makeup as the previous version, with Gomez remaining Hispanic and the rest of the family being largely white characters. When speaking to his approach to the role, Isaac said this in a Universal Pictures featurette for the 2021 sequel: 

Gomez is a character that I’ve loved for such a long time just as a fan. Even reading Charles Addams’ comic strip. And Raul Juliá being one of my biggest inspirations and seeing what he did with that character. And so then getting my chance to put my spin on it.

With Isaac’s portrayal, Gomez kept his Hispanic roots, with Isaac even going for an accent for the character in his own version. Isaac was also especially inspired by Raúl Juliá’s version of the character. However, the latest Addams Family hasn’t necessarily been embraced by its audience, receiving mixed reviews and CinemaBlend’s The Addams Family review awarding it just 2.5 out of 5 stars. 

Morticia, Wednesday, Gomez and Pugsley Addams in Netflix's Wednesday

(Image credit: Netflix)

Tim Burton’s Wednesday Netflix Series 

This brings us to Wednesday, which is available to stream with a Netflix subscription. Jenna Ortega is the first Wednesday Addams to also display a Latino descent like her father, with the actress being Puerto Rican and Mexican and Luis Guzmán being Puerto Rican himself. Zeta-Jones is from Welsh and Irish Catholic descent, making the Addams a mixed race family, as other versions of them have displayed, but their children are also shown as Latino. It looks to be the most respectful depiction of the series’ roots. 

While Gomez’s Hispanic origins began from a codified place, in 2022, Wednesday is finally allowing the family to be Latino, instead of culturally ambiguous. In the trailer for the show, mention of Dia De Los Muertos is there, showing that perhaps the series will lean more into her culture for the first time. In a Netflix interview, Jenna Ortega said this: 

Wednesday is technically a Latina character and that’s never been represented. So, for me, any time that I have an opportunity to represent my community, I want that to be seen.

The Addams Family has had a long history as representing Hispanic and Latin actors in a major American franchise, but with Wednesday, it’s the first time the whole family is involved. Now that we’ve discussed the history, check out how to watch The Addams Family movies and TV online as Wednesday debuts. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.