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  • Charles Addams Bio Image
  • Charles Addams

    United States

    Art Brokerage: Charles "Chas" Samuel Addams American Artist: January 7, 1912- September 29, 1988. He was an American cartoonist known for his particularly black humor and macabre characters. Some of the recurring characters, who became known as The Addams Family, became the basis for two live-action television series, two animated TV series, three motion pictures, and a Broadway musical. Charles Samuel Addams was born in Westfield, New Jersey, the son of Grace M. (nƩe Spears) and Charles Huy Addams, a piano-company executive who had studied to be an architect. He was "known as something of a rascal around the neighborhood" and "there was always a little group of boys at his house, doing things," as childhood friends recalled. Addams was distantly related to U.S. presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, despite the different spellings of their last names, and was a first cousin twice removed to Jane Addams, the noted social reformer. His nickname was "Chill", given to him by his friends. A house on Elm Street, and another on Dudley Avenue that police once caught him breaking into, are said to be the inspiration for the Addams Family mansion in his cartoons (though one site points to a three-way resemblance among the Addams Family mansion, the house in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and the Victorian building depicted in Edward Hopper's "House by the Railroad"). College Hall, the oldest building on the current campus of the University of Pennsylvania, where Addams studied, was also an inspiration for the mansion. He was fond of visiting the Presbyterian Cemetery on Mountain Avenue. One friend said of him, "His sense of humor was a little different from everybody else's." He was also artistically inclined, "drawing with a happy vengeance" according to a biographer. His father encouraged him to draw, and Addams did cartoons for the Westfield High School student literary magazine, Weathervane. He attended Colgate University in 1929 and 1930, and the University of Pennsylvania, where a fine-arts building on campus is named for him, in 1930 and 1931. In front of the building is a sculpture of the silhouettes of Addams Family characters. He then studied at the Grand Central School of Art in New York City in 1931 and 1932. In 1932 he joined the layout department of True Detective magazine, where he had to retouch photos of corpses that appeared in the magazine's stories to remove the blood from them. Addams complained that "A lot of those corpses were more interesting the way they were." The job taught him magazine work and the use of wash technique. His first drawing in The New Yorker ran on February 6, 1932 (a sketch of a window washer), and his cartoons ran regularly in the magazine from 1938, when he drew the first instance of what came to be called the Addams Family, until his death. He was a freelancer throughout that time. Listings wanted.

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