Lisa Loring, Wednesday Addams in ‘The Addams Family,’ Dies at 64

Lisa Loring, whose creepy yet cherubic portrayal of Wednesday Addams in the 1960s television series “The Addams Family” originated a role that has been revived in films and, most recently, a popular Netflix series, died on Saturday at a hospital in Burbank, Calif. She was 64.

Her death was confirmed by her daughter Vanessa Callies Dominguez, who said Ms. Loring had been removed from a ventilator after a stroke.

Ms. Loring auditioned for the role of Wednesday when she was 5. Her grandmother owned a Mexican restaurant on Ventura Boulevard in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles that was popular with people in the movie industry, Ms. Dominguez said. Through those connections, Ms. Loring did some child modeling work before she was offered the role on “The Addams Family” in 1964.

“I got it because of my pout,” Ms. Loring said in an interview with Daytimers, a soap opera magazine, in 1980.

In one episode that has become a fan favorite, she teaches the family’s butler, Lurch, how to dance.

“Loosen up a little,” Wednesday says, all sliding feet and wobbly knees as she encourages her zombielike sidekick. “Let yourself go.”

Ms. Loring as Wednesday Addams in 1964. She auditioned for the role when she was 5.Credit…Filmways/Album, via Alamy
Ms. Loring and Ted Cassidy, as Lurch, in an episode of “The Addams Family” from 1964.Credit…ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

Lisa Ann DeCinces was born on Feb. 16, 1958, on Kwajalein, in the Marshall Islands, the only child of James P. DeCinces, who was stationed there with the U.S. Navy, and Judith Ann Callies. Her parents divorced not long after the family moved to Los Angeles when she was a toddler.

“The Addams Family,” which premiered on ABC in 1964, was based on spooky but harmless characters that Charles Addams created for a series of cartoons that first appeared in The New Yorker in 1938. The television series focused mostly on Wednesday’s parents, Gomez and Morticia (John Astin and Carolyn Jones), as heads of a zany household that included Uncle Fester; Grandmama; Wednesday’s brother, Pugsley; and a disembodied hand, known as Thing, that popped out of a box.

Addams did not give his characters names until they were developed for television in the mid-1960s. He said he named Wednesday after a line in the nursery rhyme “Monday’s Child,” which noted that “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.”

With her dark clothes and pigtailed hair framing a pale face, Ms. Loring played Wednesday as a young girl obsessed with death, who talked about chopping off her doll’s head or feeding her pet spider.

The cast of “The Addams Family,” clockwise from top left: Jackie Coogan, John Astin, Blossom Rock, Ted Cassidy, Ken Weatherwax, Carolyn Jones and Ms. Loring.Credit…Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Ms. Loring returned to school after “The Addams Family” was canceled in 1966. She married for the first time when she was 15, gave birth to her first child and then divorced a year later, her daughter said.

She reprised the Wednesday Addams role for a 1977 reunion special, “Halloween with the New Addams Family.” Her other television credits include “The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.,” “Fantasy Island” and “Barnaby Jones.” Her film credits include “Savage Harbor” (1987), “Way Down in Chinatown” (2014) and “Doctor Spine” (2015).

In 1980, she was cast as Cricket Montgomery in the CBS soap opera “As the World Turns.”

Ms. Dominguez said her mother thought of acting as a way of supporting her family as a single mother. Acting “was not her love,” Ms. Dominguez said. “It was something that happened to her in her life.”

In addition to Ms. Dominguez, Ms. Loring is survived by another daughter, Marianne Stevenson Keller, and two grandchildren. Ms. Loring’s first three marriages ended in divorce. Her husband, Graham Ritch, died last year, Ms. Dominguez said.

The role of Wednesday Addams has been reinvented many times for television, film and the stage. The latest incarnation is “Wednesday,” a Netflix series starring Jenna Ortega, 20, as a teenage version of the character who is sent to a boarding school for outcasts, vampires and werewolves. Ms. Ortega has cited Ms. Loring among the inspirations for her iteration of Wednesday’s dance moves, which became a sensation on TikTok and in dance clubs.

In an interview at Silicon Valley Comic Con in 2018, Ms. Loring said she was so young when she auditioned to play Wednesday that she had not yet learned to read, much less dance.

“Who taught me to dance like that?” she said. “I can’t dance like that!”

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