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Lisa Loring, the original Wednesday Addams, is dead at 64

<em>The Addams Family</em> characters Wednesday and Uncle Fester. The actress who played the iconic Wednesday, Lisa Loring, died this weekend.
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Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images
The Addams Family characters Wednesday and Uncle Fester. The actress who played the iconic Wednesday, Lisa Loring, died this weekend.

Lisa Loring, best known for her role as Wednesday on the first run of The Addams Family, died on Saturday, her agent confirmed to NPR.

Loring, 64, was a "loving Mother, Grandmother and friend" who passed away surrounded by her family, said Chris Carbaugh of C and V Promotions.

Author Laurie Jacobson, a personal friend of Loring's, said in a Facebook post that Loring first "suffered a massive stroke brought on by smoking and high blood pressure" last week and was on life support for three days.

"The legacy for her family and friends – a wealth of humor, affection and love – will long play in our memories," Jacobson wrote.

According to her IMBD page, Loring was born in the Marshall Islands to Navy personnel. Her parents quickly separated and her mother moved with her to Los Angeles, where Loring began a modeling career while just a toddler.

Actress Lisa Loring poses for a photo in 2002.
Lawrence Lucier / Getty Images
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Actress Lisa Loring poses for a photo in 2002.

She solidified her place in the cultural canon while starring as the 6-year-old Wednesday in the original Addams Family series, which aired in 1964. While the show wasn't an immediate hit (it only lasted two seasons), decades of re-runs turned the eccentric family into a beloved American treasure.

Wednesday's gloomy enthusiasm for raising spiders and beheading dolls endeared her to fans who see themselves as social outsiders. Her dark braids and white-collared frock continue to inspire gothic fashion.

The character has been given fresh interpretations in a half-dozen reprisal films and series, most recently the 2022 Netflix streaming series Wednesday, starring Jenna Ortega.

Ortega has cited Loring's performance as a key inspiration for the show, especially a delightfully droll dance scene that has since gone viral.

After the first Addams Family ended, Loring appeared in various short-lived shows, including The Pruitts of Southhampton, Fantasy Island and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., as well as low-budget horror films such as Iced.

She secured a memorable recurring role in the early 1980s as Cricket Montgomery on As the World Turns.

Loring semi-retired from acting in the mid-1990s following a friend's suicide and her own drug addictions, according to IMBD. In later years, she worked as a makeup artist.

Loring married three times and is survived by two daughters.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: January 29, 2023 at 11:00 PM CST
An earlier version of this story misstated Jenna Ortega's first name as Jenny.
Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.
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