Lisa Loring, who played Wednesday Addams in the 1964 original TV adaptation of The Addams Family, died Saturday at 64. Loring’s daughter Vanessa Foumberg confirmed that her cause of death was a stroke. Foumberg said “She went peacefully with both her daughters holding her hands.”
Some former cast mates have shared tributes, including Butch Patrick, who portrayed Eddie Munster on the show. Patrick said in a statement shared on Facebook, “We were very close and worked together often. I know she was very weak. I was in her company just a few weeks ago. Godspeed my friend.”
The Addams Family was based on a long-running cartoon series of the same name that ran in The New Yorker from 1938 to 1964. The cartoonist behind them, Charles Addams, based the cartoons loosely on his own family, who lived in Westfield, New Jersey. The popularity of the cartoons is what ultimately led to the subsequent creation of the TV series.
Loring was known for her heartfelt and humorously macabre performance as Wednesday. Her infamous dance scene, in which she teaches the family butler, Lurch, how to dance, inspired later performances for years to come.
Rest in Peace Lisa Loring, the original Wednesday Addams.
The original Wednesday dance with Ted Cassidy from the 1964 episode, Lurch Learns to Dance. pic.twitter.com/ri3wTorYUo
— Danny Deraney (@DannyDeraney) January 30, 2023
The show was only Loring’s second television role, and thrust her into the spotlight at a young age.
????Lisa Loring celebrating her 8th birthday on set of The Addams Family???? pic.twitter.com/vcM55Z6mlr
— ???? (@_Abhorrence) August 20, 2019
The Addams Family would inspire both goth subculture and Halloween costumes alike for years to come. In Netflix’s 2022 show Wednesday, directed by Tim Burton, Jenna Ortega reprises the role as Wednesday, but with a twist–she’s a teenager with an undying curiosity for solving murder mysteries at her boarding school. Christina Ricci, who also portrayed Wednesday Addams in the 1991 film adaptation of The Addams Family, appears in the Netflix show as Ms. Marilyn Thornhill, dorm mom and plant biology teacher. The show was recently renewed for a second season.
Despite the plot differences from the original adaptation, Ortega has spoken frequently about how the Wednesdays that came before her inspired her performance in the popular show. Ortega combined Loring’s dance moves with archival footage of goth teens dancing at clubs in the 80s when choreographing her 2022 version, which was set to the Cramps’ “Goo Goo Muck.”
The scene went viral on TikTok in late 2022 following the release of the show, with fans setting it to Lady Gaga’s 2011 “Bloody Mary.” The dance even got Gaga’s attention on the platform. In a Wednesday-inspired outfit, she reenacted the dance to a sped-up version of her song.
The show caused The Cramps’ song and Lady Gaga’s song to have a bump on the charts. Fans compared the phenomenon to what Stranger Things did for Kate Bush’s lesser known “Running Up That Hill.” The dance was also recreated by young dancers and figure skaters across the world.
Other fans of the show took the rising popularity of the dance moves as an opportunity to educate people about the goth subculture, fashion, and music genre.
Decades after The Addams Family‘s initial release, Loring’s character’s style and interests continue to influence modern acting choices, and even some gothic literature on BookTok.
Loring is survived by her two daughters, Marianne and Vanessa.