Uncle Fester

Uncle Fester

Uncle Fester is a member of the fictional Addams Family. He was played by Jackie Coogan (famous as Charlie Chaplin's sidekick in "The Kid", 1921), in the television program, and by Christopher Lloyd in the first two movies, and by Patrick Thomas in Addams Family Reunion. Michael Roberds played Fester in The New Addams Family.

Character

Uncle Fester is a completely hairless, hunched, and barrel-shaped man with dark, sunken eyes and often a deranged smile. He always wears a heavy, full-length fur coat. Fester was derived from a character drawn by cartoonist Charles Addams, although these were single page cartoons, with no stories or character names. Nevertheless, the character is recognizable in a number of cartoons, both by his appearance (bald, stooping, sunken eyes) and behavior (e.g. turning the shower to a special "scalding" setting, feeding his garden plants on blood plasma, or releasing an eagle on the neighbor's homing pigeons). However, he is almost never seen in the same cartoons with the rest of the family, even for family celebrations like pouring boiling oil on carol singers (though he was in one cartoon with the two children—going fishing with dynamite). (It may be that he was introduced to the family at the time of the sitcom for dramatic convenience.) It is known that the name "Fester" was chosen by Addams for the sitcom.

Fester has a strange ability to conduct electricity He would often demonstrate this by putting a light bulb in his mouth, which would illuminate, accompanied by a loud, crackling noise (in the TV series the bulb's wire is sometimes clearly visible). He claims to possess 110 watts of power in one episode of the sitcom, while in another episode he demonstrated his "magnetic" quality by levitating a metal paperweight up to his hand. When struck directly on the head by a fired cannonball, he appears only mildly dazed, while the cannonball literally bounces off his head.

In the original sitcom of the 1960s, Fester is said to be Morticia Addams's maternal uncle, but in all other filmed and animated content he is Gomez Addams's brother, making him uncle to Wednesday and Pugsley. He is known as "Tío Lucas" in Spanish-speaking countries and as "Tio Chico" in Portuguese-speaking ones.

Live action TV series

In the 1960s television series, Fester (played by Jackie Coogan) is uncle to Morticia Addams. In one episode, he became perplexed when asked his last name, suggesting that he has none or has somehow forgotten it. In several episodes, Fester refers to the Addams lineage as if it were his own, but the flashbacks in the episodes "Morticia's Romance, Parts 1 and 2," clearly establish him as Morticia's uncle, brother of her mother, Hester Frump, a.k.a. Granny Frump. Perhaps, lacking a last name of his own, Fester was all the more dedicated to upholding the honor of another. In various episodes, he was a partner in typical sitcom schemes with Gomez, Morticia, or Grandmama Addams, indicating no real preference for any family member over others.

Fester's known ancestry dates back to his Great-Grandfather Blob (not to be confused with Gomez's Cousin Blob, a two-headed ghost), who received the gift of a sacred ruby after he had pried it from the head of a Hindu (whom it was giving a terrible headache). The ruby remained in the family until Fester unthinkingly used his slingshot to hurl it at a yowling stray cat. "It was the only rock in the house!" he said in his defense.

Per the 1960s sitcom, little is known of Fester's childhood, save that his father (Morticia's maternal grandfather) was an excruciatingly strict man who severely disciplined him, paddling him even when he was good and paying him to stay out of public (Fester considered this to be experience in "public relations"). He refused to allow Fester to even touch a battleaxe (a treasured toy among people with the Addams's macabre tastes) until he was eight. As an adult, Fester defended his father's strictness, pointing to his own character as proof of its effectiveness: "I didn't become what I am by accident! I had upbringing like no other!"

Fester has also offered contradictory information about his educational background. In the sitcom's first episode, he notes that he never went to school ("And look how [well] I turned out!"), but he later claims to have failed recess three times. As an adult, Fester took correspondence courses in various subjects, and his educational endeavors occasionally formed an episode's main plot. It may be from one such course that he obtained his fraternity paddle, which he once threatened to use on Wednesday in imitation of his father's punishment style; however, like many an uncle, Fester proved to have more bark than bite in dealing with the children. When he suspects someone of maligning, cheating, or otherwise mistreating anyone in the family, Fester is ever ready with his blunderbuss "Genevieve", eager to "shoot 'em in the back!" However, he is far less eager in meeting a malefactor in a face-to-face duel; he was briefly enthusiastic about a pistol duel with a enemy until he asked, somewhat timidly, "Does he get one too?..."Loaded"?"

Another prized possession was his cannon, "Old Reliable", which he normally kept in his bedroom. Fester maintained a treehouse in the Addams yard and frequently retreated to his closet to think. After receiving the gift of a motorcycle in the episode "The Addams Family Meets a Beatnik", Fester often drove it through the living room, inevitably crashing in the conservatory (Several episodes used identical footage of this scenario.). Fester also collects three-dollar bills.

The 1998 live-action series continues the tradition of having Fester (played by Michael Roberds) as Gomez's biological brother, yet between this version and the 1960s series this is the only visible difference.

Animated TV series

In the first animated series by Hanna-Barbera, Jackie Coogan reprised his role as Fester. In the second animated series by Hanna-Barbera, Fester was voiced by Rip Taylor. In this series, Fester is perhaps the most loving of self-inflicted injury. He would allow other members (usually Lurch) to harm him anyway they can, but his greatest fondness was blowing himself up. As a running gag, Fester would never believe Grandmama's predictions until she predicts something that causes him great harm (or in his case, great joy). Fester also is very fond of the Addamses' next door neighbour, Norman Normanmayer, a boring person controlling an underwear empire, who hates Fester (and the whole Addams family) for his strangeness (on an occasion, Fester comes on a visit through the sewer pipes). Fester seems quite oblivious to the matter that Norman hates him and, possibly due to the Addams family nature, thinks that all the angry, aggressive outbreaks are a sign of sympathy.

This Fester also introduces himself, through his self-made comic books, as "Festerman", a gothic hero with a weakness to chimneys, who gives his flying cape to enemies upon request—so as to fall and would bring villains to their knees...simply by enjoying all the harm they would give him to the point of wearing them out. During this series, he is given a musical-type episode about the "Fester Way", his own, strange way of life.

Film

In the movie, "The Addams Family", Fester (played by Christopher Lloyd) is the long-lost brother of Gomez Addams. He was believed to have disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle some years ago. A grifter named Abigail Craven (Elizabeth Wilson) conspires to steal the Addamses' fortune using her son, Gordon, who displays an eerie resemblance to the missing Fester. On the night that the Addamses hold a séance to contact Fester's spirit, Gordon shows up at their door, posing as Fester. Although he is baffled and horrified by the Addamses at first, Gordon begins to take a liking to the family and their eccentric ways. In the end, he disobeys his mother and helps Gomez and his family get their house back. It is later discovered that Gordon Craven "is" actually Fester, and that Abigail found him after his accident in the Bermuda Triangle, suffering from amnesia.

In Gomez's home movies from their childhood, Fester is shown to be hairless as a child (although, as Gordon Craven, he is seen shaving his head). At the end of the movie, it is revealed that Fester acquires his ability to conduct electricity after being electrocuted by lightning.

Fester also appears in the film's sequel (again played by Lloyd), "Addams Family Values". This film centers around Fester's marriage to Debbie, the recently hired nanny who wishes to murder Fester and inherit his share of the Addams fortune.

Fester again appears in the direct-to-video sequel "Addams Family Reunion", here played by Patrick Thomas.

Video games

Uncle Fester has appeared in several Addams Family video games, usually in a non-playable role. He is the star of his own Nintendo Entertainment System game titled Fester's Quest and the main playable character in the "Addams Family Values" Super Nintendo Entertainment System game.

Trivia

*As revealed in a 1977 "New Yorker" retrospective on Charles Addams, Fester was the avatar Addams chose to represent himself.
*Uncle Fester is also the name used by a member of the nationally-syndicated radio show "The MJ Morning Show".
*In the 1965 book "The Addams Family" by Jack Sharkey, there is a chapter titled "From Here to Perplexity," in which Fester gets drafted. He turns the induction center upside down, when they discover that, among other things, he has orange marmalade in his veins, electronic circuitry on his skin, no fingerprints on his fingers; and he is weightless.
*Uncle fester is cockney rhyming slang for 'child molester'.

References


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