Lisa Loring, the first actor to play the iconic role of Wednesday in “The Addams Family” franchise, died January 28. She was 64.
The news was reported by her friend Laurie Jacobson, who shared on Facebook that Jacobson suffered a stroke that put her on life support before her family made the decision to take her off.
“Beautiful, kind, a loving mother, Lisa’s legacy in the world of entertainment is huge,” Jacobson’s tribute reads. “And the legacy for her family and friends — a wealth of humor, affection and love will long play in our memories. RIP, Lisa. Damn, girl…you were a ton of fun.”
Loring was six years old when “The Addams Family” premiered on ABC in 1964. Based on The New Yorker cartoons by Charles Addams, the series focused on the titular family, a bizarre clan of wealthy aristocrats with a love of the macabre. The series, which ran for two seasons and 64 episodes, was vital in establishing the characters in popular culture, introducing elements like the snapping theme song that remain iconic to this day.
Loring — who starred alongside John Astin, Carolyn Jones, and Jackie Coogan in the series — had a very different interpretation of Wednesday than the one most often remembered, portraying the character as a sweet-natured girl who keeps black widow spiders and lizards as pets and plays with a headless Marie Antoinette doll. The more popular characterization of Wednesday, as an emotionless torture-happy tween, would be established in the ’90s “Addams Family” movies by Christina Ricci. and used for most succeeding media in the franchise, including the current Netflix “Wednesday” series, where she’s portrayed by Jenna Ortega.
On “Wednesday,” Ortega paid tribute to a scene from the original series where Loring performed a dance shuffle called the “The Drew” in a now-viral prom dance scene.
Loring was born Lisa Ann DeCinces in the Marshall Islands and lived in Hawaii for a spell before moving to Los Angeles with her mother. After booking jobs as a child model, she made her TV debut on a 1964 episode of “Dr. Kildare.” Other credits include “The Phyllis Diller Show,” “The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.,” “Fantasy Island,” “Barnaby Jones,” a three-year stint on “As the World Turns,” and B-movies “Blood Frenzy,” “Iced,” and “Savage Harbor.” In 1977 she returned to her role as Wednesday for “Halloween with the New Addams Family,” a TV reunion movie that saw the cast of the original series reprise their roles.
Loring is survived by two daughters, Marianne and Vanessa.