The secret to what makes Wednesday Addams TV's most screamingly funny kid

Lisa Loring's detached delivery struck a chord for more reasons than just her "Mona Lisa face."

There's a moment in The Addams Family episode "Wednesday Leaves Home" when, behind the scenes, you should know that everybody on set couldn't handle how funny little Lisa Loring was. It required multiple takes to get through the scene.

As Wednesday Addams, Loring became known to TV critics as a "youngster with the Mona Lisa face." The young child star had become a model at age three and started acting soon after, but The Addams Family was her first big role. Fans of the darkly funny sitcom would probably say she "killed it."

In "Wednesday Leaves Home," Wednesday runs away, and nobody in town is very enthused about finding the dour girl. So when she walks into the Missing Persons office at the police department without realizing it, the police officer doesn't even realize she's the girl he's supposed to be finding.

He's in the middle of ranting about all the missing kids he has to find other than Wednesday Addams. Distracted, he shoots a look at Wednesday, and asks, "Look, kid, I've had a rough day. What's your name?"

The actor in this scene was Jesse White, who was very used to playing heavy roles like cops and con-men that required him to be fierce without breaking the tension. It turns out that all it took to make him crack was Lisa Loring asking for a fly. She completely undid the veteran actor when she delivered her next line.

"I'd like a dead fly for my spider," Loring responded, her lips tightened and her brown eyes wide with innocence. "He's hungry."

"It wasn't that the lines were so screamingly funny," White told The Shreveport Journal in 1964. "It was Lisa's detached, unconcerned, unaware way of reading them."

White wasn’t the only one who needed to call cut on the scene and request a do-over. The Addams Family director Sidney Lanfield also cracked up at Lisa's delivery.

Perhaps part of the reason why she became such a perfect specimen to play Wednesday Addams was that Loring learned to act through mimicry, not by reading lines and seeking her own emotion. "I learned to memorize before I could read," Loring told The Sydney Morning Herald in 2017.

On set, Loring was considered just as solemn and even secretive as her character Wednesday, but she wasn't nearly so odd. She liked to play with dollies and was a studious kid who always made sure she got through her homework.

A kid who'd developed a quick wit, Loring even once shocked her costar John Astin (Gomez Addams) by revealing that she had picked up on the difference between the comedic stylings of The Addams Family and that other supernatural family sitcom of the era The Munsters.

When Astin overheard Loring explaining in an interview that The Addams Family was more sophisticated, "like the Marx Brothers," and The Munsters more slapstick, "like The Three Stooges," he sputtered out, "Who told you that? How would you know that?"

The truth was no one had to explain this to Loring, she just picked up on it as a fan of comedy. She was too young to connect the dots that the head writer and producer on The Addams Family, Nat Perrin, was one of Groucho Marx's oldest friends and worked with the Marx Brothers.

Clever and cute and capable of disturbing audiences just the same, Lisa Loring was a sitcom enigma, with a cadence to her delivery of lines that’s never been quite duplicated.

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34 months ago
Little Wednesday was always my favorite character. Even as a child watching it in reruns. She was so cute and she seemed like she was a very smart little girl in my opinion.
vinman63 38 months ago
Funny that for a predator Homer liked dead flies.
sputnik_57 38 months ago
Wednesday sure was a cute lil' devil!
vinman63 38 months ago
Pluto Tv has the Adaams Family Channel 24/7
Pacificsun 38 months ago
Good stories coming out about the Addams Family. I'm glad it's on MeTV!!!
vinman63 38 months ago
Lisa Loring could have been the daughter that Carolyn Jones never had.
MrsPhilHarris 38 months ago
Lisa Loring has had some challenges in her life. Parents divorced when she was young. Mother died when Lisa was a kid. She married for the first time when she 15. Married 4 times I believe. Once to a porn actor.
LoveMETV22 MrsPhilHarris 38 months ago
She certainly did to say the least. Just read it on Wikipedia.
oobusdoobus 38 months ago
i prefer the TV show to the movies about 1000% with one exception. Christina Ricci knocked it out of the park
Corey 38 months ago
Who is scarier Wednesday from The Addams Family or Buffy from Family Affair? No contest it's Buffy.
LoveMETV22 Corey 38 months ago
Buffy did audition for the Exorcist- but Linda Blair got the part. Sad that she (Buffy) died so young though.
vinman63 Corey 37 months ago
Buffy had that possessed doll.
harlow1313 38 months ago
I love when Wednesday teaches Lurch to dance. Give this a go out on the Youtube. It gives me a chuckle every time. Additionally, I dig the Ramones

TheSentinel harlow1313 38 months ago
Can't watch it here though because WMG decided to be copyright Scrooges.
vinman63 TheSentinel 36 months ago
I thought they were in the pubic domain.
daDoctah 38 months ago
Appropriate that she likened her own show to the Marx Brothers, given the deadpan swing musical debut of Virginia O'Brien in "The Big Store". Probably a role model for her.
MrsPhilHarris daDoctah 38 months ago
I’ve seen her do another deadpan song in a different movie.
AgingDisgracefully 38 months ago
Clearly, she paid attention when dad taught that Poe DOES have a way with whimsy.
LoveMETV22 38 months ago
Great little actress. She had a flair in the way she delivered her lines. I agree with Stoney, Pugsley was just kind of (or kinda) there.
BrittReid 38 months ago
Adored Wednesday and her Marie Antoinette doll. Lisa Loring was great in her role.
EricFuller BrittReid 29 months ago
I thought the doll was Mary Queen of Scots?
Stoney 38 months ago
Wednesday always seemed to "fit" the Addams more than Pugsley did, in my humble opinion. You could see her growing up to be a lot like Morticia.
StrayCat Stoney 38 months ago
Agree. Pugsley was the least used member of the family, kind of like they had to have a boy child as well as a girl, so he was just there. The same went for the movies. Christina Ricci was the better Wednesday but considering 60's TV limitations Lisa Loring was excellent. They could have almost been sisters.
Corey StrayCat 38 months ago
More like mother and daughter. Lisa is 20 years older.
Corey Stoney 38 months ago
Ken Weatherwax was not a good child actor just like his older brother who played Porky in Lassie. They were more like background actors.
Moverfan Corey 38 months ago
More likely, yes, but sisters is still a possibility. My sister and I are thirteen years apart.
vinman63 StrayCat 37 months ago
Pugsley was punished because he had eaten his sibling.
vinman63 Stoney 36 months ago
At times pugsley was almost a mad scientist other times he was plain stupid.
Stoney vinman63 36 months ago
Very true. They were not consistent with writing his character.
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