Ken Weatherwax dies at 59; actor was Pugsley on 'The Addams Family'

Ken Weatherwax dies at 59; actor was Pugsley on 'The Addams Family'
Ken Weatherwax, seated at right, began acting in toothpaste commercials and had a part on "Wagon Train" before getting his role as Pugsley on "The Addams Family." Later, when acting jobs disappeared, he took a job as a motion picture studio grip. (Orion Television Syndication)

Ken Weatherwax, a former child actor who as bizarre little Pugsley on TV's "The Addams Family" played in a graveyard and had great fun with toy guillotines, has died. He was 59.

Weatherwax, who later said he couldn't find other roles because he was typecast as Pugsley, died Sunday of a heart attack at his West Hills home, his nephew Beau Vieira said.


Based on the hilariously strange world created in the New Yorker by cartoonist Charles Addams, "The Addams Family" was a sitcom that fleshed out the humdrum lives of the couple Gomez and Morticia Addams; their children, the sadistic Wednesday (as in 'full of woe') and the chubby, victimized Pugsley; their frightening butler Lurch, cackling old Uncle Fester and others.

"The Addams Family" aired from 1964 to 1966. Its finger-snapping theme song, with lyrics about a family that's creepy and that's kooky "and altogether ooky," is still well-known to baby boomers who grew up with television sets and tolerant parents.

For Weatherwax, the series was the high point of an acting career that began with toothpaste commercials and an appearance on "Wagon Train."

After "The Addams Family," Pugsley's notoriety made life tough for the teenage actor.

"Frankly, I didn't deal with it very well," Weatherwax told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly in 2007. "I was kicked out of about six or seven schools and ended up in the service at the age of 17."

He voiced an Addams Family TV cartoon in the 1970s and appeared in an Addams Family TV reunion but spent most of his life behind the scenes, working for about 30 years as a motion picture studio grip.

"I like it on the other side of the camera just fine," he told ABC News during a Halloween segment in 2006.

Born in Los Angeles on Sept. 29, 1955, Weatherwax came from a family steeped in show business. His aunt was Ruby Keeler,, a star of Busby Berkeley musicals and the former wife of Al Jolson. Weatherwax's half-brother is Joey D. Vieira, an actor who appeared on TV's "Lassie" as a child and went on to establish a career in Hollywood.

Vieira, 11 years older than Weatherwax, was a role model for him when both were boys, Beau Vieira said.

An Army veteran, Weatherwax stopped working at movie studios in the mid-2000s because of health problems, his nephew said. He enjoyed fishing and dogs, and was active in his church.

In addition to Beau and Joey Vieira, Weatherwax is survived by his niece, Shanyn Vieira.

Twitter: @schawkins