Monday, January 30, 2023

Godspeed Lisa Loring

Lisa Loring, who originated the role of Wednesday Addams on the 1960s sitcom The Addams Family, died on January 28 2023 at the age of 64. The cause was complications from a stroke.

Lisa Loring was born Lisa Ann DeCinces in Kwajalein Atoll, Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (now the Marshall Islands). Her parents both served in the United States Navy, and divorced when she was very young. As a very young child she lived in Hawaii for a time before moving to Los Angeles to live with her mother. She was three years old when she began modelling, taking the stage name "Lisa Loring." She made her television debut in 1964 in an episode of Dr. Kildare.

It was also in 1964 that Lisa Loring was cast as Wednesday Addams on The Addams Family. Wednesday was an overly morbid six year old who owned headless dolls and kept pet spiders. The Addams Family only lasted two years, but proved to be a success as a syndicated rerun. In the Sixties she also played Suzy Pruitt on the short-lived sitcom The Pruitts of Southamptom. She also guest starred on The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.

After The Pruitts of Southampton ended, Lisa Loring would not appear in television or films until the television reunion movie Halloween with the New Addams Family, in which she reprised her role as Wednesday Addams. In the late Seventies she guest starred on the TV shows Fantasy Island and Barnaby Jones. She appeared in the TV movie Annie Flynn.

From 1980 to 1983 Lisa Loring had the recurring role of Cricket Montgomery on the soap opera As the World Turns. She appeared in the TV movie Gabe and Walker. She appeared in the movies Blood Frenzy (1987), Savage Harbor (1987), and Iced (1989). In the Teens she appeared in the movies Way Down in Chinatown (2014) and Doctor Spine (2015).

It is safe to say that Lisa Loring will always be best remembered as Wednesday on The Addams Family. Aside from the show's continued popularity, I think it is primarily the case that she was so  good in the role. This is all the more remarkable given she was only five years old when she was cast and could not yet read. Someone had to read her lines to her and she memorized them that way. In interviews Miss Loring said that playing Wednesday was sometimes hard, because John Astin, Carolyn Jones, Jackie Coogan, and Ted Cassidy were all so funny, and yet she had to keep a straight face. In an interview at Monsterpalooza in 2017 she revealed that she was actually quite different from Wednesday, saying, "I liked lace and pearls and pretty things and Wednesday liked everything dark and spooky." Certainly, Lisa Loring's portrayal of Wednesday has shaped every portrayal of the character since.

And certainly Lisa Loring's portrayal of Wednesday Addams would have a lasting impact. I know many women who were inspired by Wednesday. Much of the message of The Addams Family, and Wednesday in particular, is that it is okay to be different, that it is okay not to conform to society's expectations of what you should be. In that respect, in some ways Wednesday could be considered a proto-feminist icon. While other little girls on television in the Sixties tended to conform to what was expected of them, Wednesday was very much her own person.

In addition to being a talented actress, Lisa Loring was also a very nice person. She often attended conventions and other events, and everyone who had the privilege to meet her has said the same thing, that she was one of the nicest people one could ever meet. She certainly appreciated her fans. If many are sad today, it is not simply that Lisa Loring played a beloved character, it was because she was very much loved herself.

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