After writing about Herman Munster, I figured that a tribute to another patriarch was in order. Here is the history of actors who played Gomez Addams.
John Astin (1964-1966, 1972, 1977, 1992-1993)
The original Gomez, Astin starred in the original TV series and in the 1977 TV special, Halloween with the New Addams Family, and voiced the character in an episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies and the 1992 animated The Addams Family series. That's quite unprecedented. Astin created the character that we know and love today. Hell, he even had a hand in picking the name of the character. His version of a man who is madly in love with his wife, doesn't care how his career as a lawyer is going, cares deeply for his children and trains is still perfect. Without Astin, I would say that The Addams Family might not have been as successful (Even if The Munsters did better in the Nielsen ratings). Not to downplay the rest of the cast, but Gomez is the glue that holds the family together.
Raúl Juliá (1991-1993)For most people of my generation, Julia is the actor that comes to mind when one thinks of Gomez as we all grew up watching the films The Addams Family and Addams Family Values. Julia brought a more sophisticated side to the character, but also showed more of the Castillian side of Gomez. But the intense love of his wife, Morticia, and his trains was, thankfully, left intact. I absolutely think that Julia was the ideal choice to continue the legacy of Gomez. I couldn't imagine a single actor who could have done better. Unfortunately, Julia passed away a year after the second film was released. I can't help but think of the films that never got made as a result.
Tim Curry (1998)
Tim Curry. We all know the name, but certain people tend to forget that he played Gomez in the 1998 Fox Family original movie, Addams Family Reunion. I have this one on VHS and I watch it around this time of year, as I totally miss the 13 Day of Halloween on Fox Family (And no, you can't convince me what's on ABC Family is the same thing). The unfortunate thing about this film is that Curry is...Curry. I don't think he phoned this one in by any means, but he doesn't try to change himself enough to make it feel any different than Home Alone 2, Clue, Muppet Treasure Island, etc. The fact that he did this made for TV film almost feels beneath him, really.
Glenn Taranto (1998-1999)
The previous film with Curry was essentially a backdoor pilot for a new TV show which was released in the same year. Glenn Taranto took over the role for the series and he played it like John Astin. Normally, things like that kind of bug me, as I feel that an actor doesn't have to fit the mold exactly if it is a brand new incarnation of something. But, I think Taranto's version works extremely well. He looks and sounds a lot like Astin, so it feels almost like a continuation of the original series with a few tweaks. This is helped by the show remaking and updating quite a few episodes from the original series.
Not to mention, Astin came aboard the show to play Grandpa Addams. If that's not a sign that this show was excellent, I don't know what is.
Now, I struggled with whether or not to include the next two people, but I finally decided that their absence would make this article incomplete. (Unlike Lennie Weinrib. Sorry, Lennie.)
Nathan Lane (2010-2011)
The line "Who moved the rock?" will forever be associated with The Addams Family, so it seemed only fitting that the man who uttered it would one day become an Addams. Lane played the character for about a year on Broadway in The Addams Family musical. He certainly looks like how Charles Addams drew Gomez and I am quite fond of what I've heard from the original cast recording.
Roger Rees (2011)
Rees finished out the Broadway run as Gomez. From the little bit that was released of his as the character, he was more in line with what Julia brought to the part than what Lane did with the role. Hopefully one day we will see more of what he did, but I am unsure if the whole performance was ever recorded. Unfortunately, Rees passed away last month. While Gomez was far from the last role he performed, to someone like me, it is an honor of the highest degree.
The Addams Family will always return. In 2010, a reboot from Universal Studios was discussed with Tim Burton creating a stop motion film that used the characters. It was cancelled, but another reboot this time from the owner of the rights to the original series, MGM, was announced two years ago. There hasn't been much motion on it as of the current moment, but I look forward to seeing what might eventually happen.