Lisa Loring, the actress who played Wednesday Addams in the classic TV adaptation of The Addams Family, has died. She was 64.
Loring died Saturday night at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank of complications from a stroke caused by high blood pressure, her daughter Vanessa Foumberg told The Hollywood Reporter.
“She went peacefully with both her daughters [Vanessa and Marianne] holding her hands,” she said.
Loring is best known for her turn as the morbid, pig-tailed Wednesday in ABC’s black comedy sitcom The Addams Familya role she took on at six years old in 1964. She played the character for only two years, but set the template for live-action portrayals of Wednesday, and was recently praised as an inspiration for Jenna Ortega’s interpretation on the hit Netflix series wednesday.
Born Lisa Ann DeCinces on Feb. 16, 1958, in the Marshall Islands, Loring’s parents divorced when she was very young and she later came to live in Los Angeles with her mother. She was given the stage name Lisa Loring and started modeling at age three. Her first television appearance came in 1964, in an episode of the NBC medical drama Dr Kildare.
After winning the part of Wednesday in ABC’s, MGM-produced live-action television adaptation of Charles Addams’ New Yorker cartoons, Loring began work on the half-hour comedy series at age 5 and a half, revealing in later interviews that she “learned to memorize before I could read” in order to say her lines. At fan conventions and in several interviews, Loring has spoken fondly of her time working on The Addams Family. “It was like a real family—you couldn’t have picked a better cast and crew,” Loring revealed in a 2017 YouTube interview conducted at the Monsterpalooza convention. “Carolyn Jones, John Astin — Gomez and Morticia — were like parents to me. They were great.”
Airing at the same time as CBS’ similarly macabre sitcom The Munsters, The Addams Family ran for two seasons, a total of 64 episodes. Almost all of the original cast was reunited in 1977 for the NBC television movie Halloween with the New Addams Family.
With Loring’s death, Astin is the last surviving member of the original cast of The Addams Family.
Considered a rising talent, Loring found immediate TV work following the end of The Addams Familyand along with Astin went on to co-star in ABC’s Phyllis Diller-led sitcom The Pruits of Southampton, playing Susan “Suzy” Pruitt. Both shows shared an executive producer in David Levy. The Pruitts would last only one season, however, following poor reviews. In 1966, Loring also made an appearance in an episode of The Girl from UNCLEbut her career stalled for a number of years thereafter.
In 1973, Loring was wed for the first time at age 15, marrying her childhood sweetheart Farrell Foumberg. The following year, she had her first child, but tragedy befell her when her mother Judith died of chronic alcoholism at the age of 34.
Loring returned to acting with 1977’s Halloween with the New Addams Family and scored appearances in popular network shows Fantasy Island and Barnaby Jones. In the early 1980s, she had a recurring part in CBS soap As the World Turnsplaying the character of Cricket Montgomery.
With her television career winding down, Loring appeared in a series of slasher pics in the late 1980s. She starred in Blood Frenzy and Savage Harbor (both in 1987) and iced (1988), but the push into features was short-lived, and a troubled personal life, including a battle with heroin addiction, effectively ended her acting career.
Loring’s first marriage to Foumberg ended in 1974. She then married Search for Tomorrow actor Doug Stevenson in 1981, with that relationship ending in divorce two years later. In 1987, she married adult film star Jerry Butler, with her new husband committed to quitting pornography. However, Butler’s continued appearances in adult films, in secret without Loring’s knowledge, proved a great strain on the marriage, and they divorced in 1992. She married Graham Rich in 2003 and divorced him in 2014.
In addition to her daughters, survivors include her grandchildren, Emiliana and Charles.
Mike Barnes contributed to this story.