Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Rant #1,338: Pugsley

In a year where we have experienced some major deaths in the entertainment field--namely Joan Rivers and Robin Williams--this passing isn't on the same level, but for some, it probably is.

Ken Weatherwax died, and if that name doesn't ring a bell if you are not a Baby Boomer, here is why we mourn his death today.

He was Pugsley, yes, Pugsley Addams of the TV show "The Addams Family."

As fat, short and pretty weird looking brother to comely Wednesday Addams, Pugsley was rarely the focus of any of the shows on the classic sitcom, but he was there, setting fires, eating bugs and doing other things that in the world of this ghoulish family, were perfectly normal.

No, this show could never run today, because the PC police would be all over it.

But back in 1965 and 1966, Pugsley fit right in with this family, which was led by dad Gomez and mother Morticia.

And all the while, with the prune face that looked like it was extra disturbed by someone eating a lemon, Weatherwax played Pugsley perfectly.

Could you ever imagine anyone else playing that role?

Weatherwax came from something of a theatrical family, with his aunt being actress and dancer Ruby Keeler. His brother played the best friend of Jeff on the original Lassie TV show, and he was also related to some other Hollywood stars.

He earned a few early roles in toothpaste commercials and on TV in shows like "Wagon Train," but his signature role was to come.

But if there was ever anyone who did not fit the Hollywood glamor profile, it was Weatherwax, and it ended up hurting him as far as roles after "The Addams Family" show ended.

When work dried up, he went back to being a "normal" kid, which was difficult after being Pugsley, and kids he went to school with never let him forget who he had been. He reportedly went from school to school, bullied by kids for his former role.

He sought his escape through joining the Army, and that is reportedly where he got his "real" life back.

Afterwards, he moved onto the other side of the screen, being a technical worker on dozens of TV shows and movies, as a grip and set builder, and he pretty much faded into obscurity, only being brought up during revivals of the show as a "whatever happened to ... " question.

He passed away on Sunday at age 59. The first time I looked, he evidently passed away in his sleep, and it hadn't been determined what was the cause of death. Later, I found out that he died of a heart attack.

Whatever the case, Weatherwax, sort of like Butch Patrick, lived in all Baby Boomers' psyches as that kid, who was pretty much our age, who was one of the stars of one of those two "monster" shows that we loved when we were kids, the other being "The Munsters," of course.

Oh, how we would have loved to live in those families, but we did it through Weatherwax, and Butch Patrick as Eddie.

So R.I.P. Ken Weatherwax, you did a great job.

Although the actor that portrayed Pugsley is now gone, because of TV reruns ...

Pugsley lives!

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