Lurch (The Addams Family)
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|First appearance||The New Yorker (1938)|
|Created by||Charles Addams|
|Portrayed by||Ted Cassidy|
|Voiced by||Ted Cassidy|
Lurch (whose first name is unknown) is a fictional character created by American cartoonist Charles Addams as a manservant to The Addams Family. In the original television series, Lurch was played by Ted Cassidy, who used the catchphrase, "You... rang?" (a similar phrase was the trademark of an earlier character Maynard G. Krebs in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis).
In Charles Addams's original cartoons, Lurch is often seen accompanying the rest of the Family, sometimes carrying a feather-duster. In a couple of illustrations, the Family is seen decorating Lurch like they would a Christmas tree.
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Lurch is a 6 ft 9 in (2.05 m) tall, shambling, gloomy butler. In the original Addams Family television series, Lurch has a deep and resonant voice. Although fully capable of normal speech, Lurch often communicates via simple inarticulate moans, which, much like the dialogue of Cousin Itt, his employers have no trouble understanding.
This towering mute has been shambling around the house forever...He is not a very good butler but a faithful one...One eye is opaque, the scanty hair is damply clinging to his narrow flat head...generally the family regards him as something of a joke.
Like any butler, Lurch tries to help around the house, but occasionally his great size and strength cause trouble. He clearly takes pride in his work and is willing to do even the most arduous task.
His character often demonstrates signs of frustration towards his employers; however, his continued presence also suggests loyalty. As a result, he appears to be one of the family.
The family summons him with an ever-present bell pull (in the form of a hangman's noose). When pulled, it produces a loud gong noise that shakes the house, to which Lurch instantly appears and responds, "You... rang?", even if wide-angle shots reveal that he was clearly nowhere in the vicinity before; on a few occasions Lurch arrives even before the bell pull is tugged.
Lurch largely shares the family's macabre standards, although he occasionally looks askance at some of their activities. He has a similar attitude toward visitors – almost a sixth sense. When a plainclothes policeman named Mr. Hollister (portrayed by George N. Neise) visits in "The Addams Family Meets the Undercover Man," Lurch pats him down and removes his service revolver from inside his suit coat. Although Lurch groans disapprovingly at the idea of someone bringing a weapon into the house, he returns the gun after Hollister shows his badge.
Much of Lurch's history, including his first name and the nature of his relationship to any other Addamses, was originally unspecified. "Lurch" was revealed during the original TV series to be a surname, as there was a "Mother Lurch" who appeared in one episode (portrayed by Ellen Corby). She addressed Lurch as "Sonny", which could either be a parental nickname or his actual first name. As for his father, he was mentioned twice, once in the second animated series, and in an apparent reference to his Frankenstein's monster-like appearance, Lurch said, smiling, "He put me together." And another time in the original series where Lurch mentions his father wanted him to be a jockey (typically short and light people) instead of a butler.
It was stated in Addams Family Reunion that Lurch is part Addams. This plays into his being a creation similar to Frankenstein's monster. The only definite body part that is from an Addams is his heart. Lurch's mother appears to be a physically normal, elderly woman, although she does not see anything unusual about the Addams family or their home, with the exception of Thing.
In The New Addams Family, a woman comments to Morticia about Lurch, "Where did you dig him up?", to which Morticia responds, "Funny, I can't remember which cemetery it was." Lurch is also referenced as having "two left feet".
On October 30, 1965, a song and dance based on Lurch, entitled "The Lurch", were introduced on the ABC music program Shindig!. This mirrored an earlier episode of the television series, entitled "Lurch, the Teenage Idol" (which was remade in 1999 for The New Addams Family). In it, Lurch records a song on his harpsichord and becomes a pop sensation.
During the 2018-2019 NBA season, analyst and former player Shaquille O'Neal began using Lurch's catchphrase "You Rang" to refer to Philadelphia 76ers backup center Boban Marjanovic, due to a perceived physical resemblance between Marjanovic and Lurch.
Live Action TV series
Cassidy made a cameo appearance as Lurch in the Batman episode "The Penguin's Nest". As Batman and Robin are climbing the wall of Penguin's restaurant, the Addams Family theme is heard in the background. Lurch pops his head out of the window, sees Batman and Robin, and comments that they gave him quite a start. Batman tells Lurch that he can return to his harpsichord as Robin states that they are on official business.
Animated TV series
Ted Cassidy reprised his role of Lurch in The New Scooby-Doo Movies episode "Wednesday is Missing". He is the one who finds Mystery Inc.'s Mystery Machine stuck in the mud outside the Addams Family house and takes them inside where Gomez and Morticia hire them to be the housekeepers while they are away at the Okefenokee Swamp. By the end of the episode, Lurch helps the Mystery Machine out of the mud.
Ted Cassidy reprised his role of Lurch in the 1973 cartoon adaption of The Addams Family.
Lurch appears in the 1990 film adaption of The Addams Family portrayed by Carel Struycken. He never speaks audibly but groans recurrently. He is seen assisting Morticia by going through the wardrobe of the late Uncle Knick-Knack. Lurch was present when Abigail Craven brings her son Gordon disguised as the long-lost Uncle Fester to the Addams Family mansion. When Tully Alford persuades Judge George Womack to grant the ownership of the house to Uncle Fester and have a restraining order that causes the rest of the family to be evicted, Lurch joins the rest of the family in moving in to a hotel. Seven months later after Craven and Alford are defeated, Lurch answers the door on Halloween where he unintentionally scares away the trick or treaters. At the end of the film, he joins the Addams Family in playing "Wake the Dead" where they work to awaken the zombies of the dead relatives.
Lurch appears in the sequel Addams Family Values portrayed again by Struycken. He was present at the hospital when Morticia gives birth to Pubert Addams. In one of Wednesday and Pugsley's plots to dispose of Pubert, they drop him and a bowling ball off the roof where Pubert falls into Gomez' arms and the bowling ball hits Lurch on the head where he was not knocked out at the time when he was watering the plants. When Debbie Jellinsky plans to kill the family, Lurch was among those strapped to the electric chair. At the end of the movie, Lurch plays "Happy Birthday" on the harpsichord for Pubert's first birthday party.
Lurch appears in Addams Family Reunion portrayed again by Struycken.
Lurch appears in the 2019 film adaption of The Addams Family voiced by Conrad Vernon. This version is a patient from the abandoned State Asylum for the Criminally Insane who Gomez, Morticia, and Thing hit with their car after relocating to New Jersey. As Lurch recovers, Gomez and Morticia take him in as their butler. The abandoned State Asylum for the Criminally Insane becomes the Addams Family's home.
Lurch appears in the stage musical adaption of The Addams Family portrayed by Zachary James in the original Broadway production, Tom Corbeil in the US National Tour production, and Laughlin Grace in other tour productions. He is present during a gathering of the Addams Family and their relatives whether they are dead, alive, or undecided. Lurch later ushers the Beinekes into the Addams Family mansion. By the end of the musical, Lurch surprises everyone by singing out loud for the first time.