January 7, 2012
Charles Addams' 100th Birthday
From time to time we invite guests to post about items of interest and are pleased to have H. Kevin Miserocchi, executive director of the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation, join us today to talk about cartoonist Charles Samuel Addams. Addams is best known as the creator of the Addams Family, and is the subject of a doodle today in honor of his 100th birthday. -Ed.
I spent the summer of 1979 fundraising with Tee Matthews Miller for the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons. We spent most of our time in the home she shared with her cartoonist paramour—and too many dogs and cats to name—during his weekends away from Manhattan. I’d met her partner several times before I realized that behind all the stacks of paper and collectibles and layers of dust and pet fur in Tee’s office den, the walls were decorated with familiar art. Not just any art—the original artwork from the pages of The New Yorker magazines that my brother and I had cut up or crayoned across when we were boys. Tee’s boyfriend was the Charles Addams—the one with two d’s. I was home, and our friendship was forever cemented.They were married in Tee’s pet cemetery in Water Mill, NY in 1980—a surprise for the 60 guests coming for cocktails during the Memorial Day weekend. The wedding party all wore black. It was the union of a wonderful woman of gentle spirit and great generosity and a beguiling man with a subtly wicked sense of humor. Bashful and soft-spoken as he was, he had a devil-child glint in his eyes and a Lugosi-like mouth when he laughed, showing none of his teeth.Eleven years after his 1988 death, his widow and I formed the not-for-profit Tee and Charles Foundation to protect his legacy as an extraordinary cartoonist with a painterly technique, and to educate people about Charlie’s gift by exhibiting his work worldwide. Following Tee’s passing in 2002, the Foundation dedicated the couple’s Sagaponack homestead, “The Swamp,” as a museum. They had moved there in the mid-1980s, and in true Addams style, they took their cemetery with them—a sweet place where their ashes are interred alongside those of their beloved dogs and cats. Of the thousands of works Charlie published in his 55 years of cartooning, only 150 were devoted to the group of characters who became known as The Addams Family. But the perfectly off-center humor behind these characters won worldwide adoration even before they became the television and film family we know today. Even for those who never had the thrill of knowing the classy gentleman behind this unique art, Charlie’s family continues to capture the hearts of new generations of cartoon aficionados. We hope today’s doodle inspires you to seek out more of his work.