Ken Weatherwax, the actor who played Pugsley in the 1960s TV version of The Addams Family, has reportedly died of a heart attack. TMZ picked up the story after his niece posted an announcement on Facebook. Weatherwax was 59.
Weatherwax starred in some 40 episodes of The Addams Family, which ran for two seasons on ABC. An adaptation of Charles Addams’ macabre cartoons, the show offered a campy spin on the same monsters-in-suburbia theme as The Munsters, which ran concurrently and performed better in the ratings. But time has arguably been kinder to The Addams Family: Its gallows humor has aged better than The Munsters’ goofier puns, and it’s enjoyed just as long a life in syndication, its cultural cachet sustained (like so many shows of its era_ by its maddeningly catchy theme song. And a pair of surprisingly sharp Addams Family movies in the 1990s ensured another generation would know the names of Gomez, Morticia, and their brooding brood.
As part of that brood, Weatherwax played the rotund, cheerful Pugsley, a mischievous boy given to devising gadgets well beyond his 10 years. He shared much of his on-screen time with Lisa Loring as his younger sister Wednesday, playing with dynamite and other children’s toys.
In 1977, an adult Weatherwax would join Loring and his other co-stars John Astin, Carolyn Jones, Ted Cassidy, Jackie Coogan, and Felix Silla in the reunion movie Halloween With The New Addams Family. It was his first on-screen role in more than a decade: Other than voicing Puggsley in a 1973 animated Addams, Weatherwax struggled to find acting work—and with the shadow of his character. Eventually he joined the Army at 17, then found steady work behind the scenes on film sets as a grip and builder. He also embraced Pugsley later in his life, often attending fan conventions.
Weatherwax’s death leaves only Astin and Loring alive from The Addams Family cast.