Ken Weatherwax got bullied for playing Pugsley
The Army helped the child actor move past the tough time with high school bullies and come to embrace his famous character once again.
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"All that kid stuff is behind me now," Pugsley tells his parents at the start of The Addams Family episode "Pugsley’s Allowance."
He’s just given away his new toy, an "atomic reactor," to a friend, declaring what he needs more than toys is money.
The rest of the episode finds Pugsley job-hunting, to the horror of his parents who feel Addams family members are so wealthy, they do not need to work.
For actor Ken Weatherwax, this episode came near the end of The Addams Family’s original run, at a time when the child actor wasn’t sure if he wanted to keep on acting, so he quit.
Returning to school when the show ended, Weatherwax did not realize that his TV fame would lead many kids to pick on him out in the real world.
"It was after the show got cancelled that I began having problems, like going to public school and having to put up with the bullies and that type of thing," Weatherwax said in a 2001 interview.
Weatherwax was the type of kid who didn’t stand down to bullies, and that meant he got into scraps with a lot of other boys, all because he played Pugsley — a role he loved.
"I got kicked out of several high schools," Weatherwax said, explaining that he joined the Army when he was 17 years old because he felt he ran out of options.
"I was given a choice: go in the Army or go into the Young Offenders Program until I was 25," Weatherwax said. "So I chose the Army."
Weatherwax said he chose wisely. Not only did the Army help him fight back that combative side, but it also helped him realize the kind of job he really wanted to do: not in front of, but behind the camera.
"It matured me a bit," Weatherwax said of his time in the Army. "And then after I got out of the service, I went right back into the studios as a grip, behind the camera."
As an actor, Weatherwax appeared on The Addams Family and once on Wagon Train in the Sixties, and in the Seventies, he would occasionally return to voice Pugsley on rare projects.
By that point, Weatherwax had already discovered how much more he enjoyed working as a grip, finding creative ways to prop up the camera using tripods, dollies, cranes and rigs.
As a hands-on kind of guy building machinery to achieve desired camera effects like smooth glides or odd angles, Weatherwax fit the part just as well as a grip as he did playing Pugsley, the handy genius who built his own "toys" like guillotines and racks.
"I absolutely love my job," Weatherwax said of being a grip. "Love it. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do."