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This Day in Pop Culture for September 18

The Addams Family

1964: ‘The Addams Family’ Move Into the Neighborhood

Cartoonist Charles Addams created a series of single-paneled cartoons featuring his creation of The Addams Family for The New Yorker magazine beginning in 1938. The cartoons proved to be so popular that a TV series was soon developed. This odd family was wealthy with a love for the macabre and were never really aware that they were different from others in the neighborhood. The family consisted of father Gomez (John Astin), mother Morticia (Carolyn Jones), daughter Wednesday (Lisa Loring), son Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax), Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan) and Grandmama (Blossom Rock) along with their butler Lurch (Ted Cassidy). The comedy which debuted on this day in 1964 was often confused with the similarly themed (but altogether different) The Munsters. Since the show went off the air in 1966, the show’s popularity never really died. Since that time, Hanna-Barbera has created two different cartoon series based on the show, the feature film The Addams Family was released in 1991, Addams Family Values in 1993, a direct-to-video movie in 1998 and a brand new full-length animated film by MGM was released in 2019.

1964: Meet Jonny Quest

Although not as popular as Scooby-Doo, Hanna-Barbera’s Jonny Quest has had great staying power of the years. The original The Adventures of Jonny Quest series debuted on this day in 1964. The show was inspired by the old radio adventure serials and comics and was designed by comic book artist Doug Wildey. Jonny was a young boy who with his friend Hadji would accompany his scientist father, Dr. Quest (Don Messick) and Race Bannon (Granville Van Dusen) along with their dog Bandit, on a variety of adventures. Unlike the other cartoons of the day, Jonny Quest had a different look a feel. It was the first in a string of cartoons focusing on action and adventure and it even ran during primetime on ABC during its first year’s run. After that, the show ran reruns of the cartoon on all three major networks and new episodes were created for syndication in 1986. A more modern version, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, was created in the 1990s. A full-length TV movie, Jonny’s Golden Quest was shown on the USA Network in 1993 which revealed that Jonny’s mother was murdered by the evil Dr. Zin (can you do that in a HB cartoon?) It also introduced a new character, Jessie Bradshaw (who apparently is Race’s daughter). In 2015, a direct-to-video film that featured Jonny and friends with an iconic cat and mouse for Tom and Jerry: Spy Quest. A live-action feature film has been planned since the 1990 but has been bumped back numerous times. In 2015, Robert Rodriguez was rumored to be the director of a film that was being described as Indiana Jones meets James Bond. Rumors of who might star in the movie have included Zac Efron, Dwayne Johnson, Idris Elba, Bradley Cooper and Will Smith. In late 2018, Warner Bros. stated that the film would be directed by Chris McKay. We’ll see.

Jonny Quest
(Warner Bros.)
(Wikimedia)

1978: WKRP in Cincinnati Hits the Airwaves

The office sitcom centered on the staff of a little radio station known as WKRP (in Cincinnati) premiered on this day on CBS on this day in 1978. Created by Hugh Wilson, WKRP was actually inspired by Wilson’s days working for the advertising sales department of radio station WQXI in Atlanta, Georgia. Many of the characters and even some of the stunts (including the infamous turkey drop Thanksgiving episode) were based on real people and events. The cast included Gary Sandy, Howard Hesseman, Gordon Jump, Loni Anderson, Tim Reid, Jan Smithers, Richard Sanders and Frank Bonner. During it’s four-year run, WKRP received 10 Emmy Award nominations but only won one for videotape editing. When the show went into syndication, it was almost more popular than its first run. Because of this, a new version of the show, The New WKRP in Cincinnati ran in syndication from 1991 to 1993 starring Jump, Sanders and Bonner who all reprised their roles. Hesseman, Reid and Anderson also appeared a few times as guest stars.

1965: This Jeannie is Out of the Bottle

In 1964, Bewitched was the #2 TV show. Wanting a similar piece of the pie, NBC offered I Dream of Jeannie the following year which ironically was produced by Screen Gems who also produced Bewitched. Jeannie was inspired by the movie The Brass Bottle which also starred Barbara Eden, but as a mortal (Burl Ives played the genie!) Creator Sidney Sheldon didn’t want a blond to play the role of Jeannie since Elizabeth Montgomery (from Bewitched) was a blond, but nobody read the role as he intended except for Eden. Sheldon wanted the first season to be filmed in color, but NBC didn’t want to pay for the extra expense as they didn’t have much hope that the show would last very long. Though never a ratings winner, the show stayed on the air for five years.

(Wikimedia)
Get Smart
(Wikimedia)

1965: Time to ‘Get Smart’

It was on this day in 1965 that the hit spy comedy TV series, Get Smart premiered on NBC. Created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, the series starred Don Adams as an inept spy Agent 86 who was aided by the much smarter Agent 99 (played by Barbara Feldon) who always gave the credit of their success to Max. The two were under the leadership of “Chief” played by Edward Platt and were always at tasking stopping the evil organization, KAOS. It is said that Brooks and Henry were asked to create a show based on two of the most popular things in the entertainment world at the time: James Bond and Inspector Clouseau. The show ran for five years (with the fifth airing on CBS) and won seven Emmy Awards including Outstanding Comedy Series (1968 and 1969) and Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Comedy (Don Adams in 1967, 1968 and 1969) along with two Golden Globes. Despite its success, it wasn’t a huge ratings winner as it only broke into the top 30 TV shows twice. Years later, Adams reprised the role (sans Agent 99) for the theatrical movie, The Nude Bomb in 1980. ABC aired the made-for-TV movie, Get Smart, Again! (with Feldon) In 1989. In 1995, the show became a revival series on FOX that starred Adams, Feldon and Andy Dick as their son, Zack, but the fun didn’t last long. In 2008, Get Smart  was re-imagined with a new theatrical release that starred Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway. A sequel was planned but never materialized. Some say that they “missed it by that much.”

Birthdays

  • 1917: June Foray (voice actress)
  • 1920: Jack Warden (actor)
  • 1933: Fred Willard (actor)
  • 1940: Frankie Avalon (actor)
  • 1964: Holly Robinson Peete (actress)
  • 1970: Aisha Tyler (actress)
  • 1971: Lance Armstrong (cyclist)
  • 1971: Jada Pinkett Smith (actress)
  • 1973: James Marsden (actor)
  • 1981: Jennifer Tisdale (actress)

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Jeffrey Totey View All

I write about arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.

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