Dec 07 2015

Mystery Foto #49 Solved: Charles Addams and his wife Barbara Jean in Southampton Updated:10/30/16

Walter McCarthy challenged you to solve this Mystery Foto from his Long Island Automotive Museum photo collection. Hint: This photo was taken at the opening of the museum on August 27, 1948.

Mystery Foto questions:

  • Identify the gentleman in the automobile

Cartoonist Charles Addams (1912-1988), creator of the Addams Family. Addams had "a long collection of rather good vintage cars which included two Bugattis, a 1933 Aston Martin, a supercharged Mercedes S, an Amilcar and the Castagna-bodied Alfa 2300. "

  • Identify the woman in the automobile. Why does she look familiar?

She is Barbara Jean Day Addams, Charles Addams' first wife. As seen below, Barbara was the inspiration for Morticia of the Addams Family.

  • Identify the automobile

This was Charles Addams' supercharged 1927 Mercedes S-Type. He received the automobile as a gift from playwright Philip Barry (1896-1948), author of  Holiday (1928) and Philadelphia Story (1939). Addams raced the Mercedes in the 1948 Junior Prix at Watkins Glen.


Congrats to Steve Lucas, Sam Berliner III, Art Kleiner,  and John Bayer for identifying Charles and Barbara Jean Addams. Kudos to Sam Berliner III and John Bayer for identifying the 1927 Mercedes S-Type.

Update 10/30/2016: H. Kevin Miserocchi, Executive Director of the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation provides insight into the below famous photo of Charles Addams drawing Morticia.


Howard Kroplick

Charles and Barbara Jean Addams

Barbara and Charles Addams as photographed by George Silk for Life magazine (1948).

Barbara Jean "modeling" for a Morticia cartoon in a set-up shot.

Update 10/30/2016: H. Kevin Miserocchi, Executive Director, Tee and Charles Addams Foundation

Charlie created the character who became known as Morticia in 1933, many years before he married Barbara or either of his two other wives, all of whom had that look. The photograph of Charlie drawing Morticia as Barbara “poses” was nothing more than a set-up shot. Barbara told me that she hated all that referencing of her and Morticia and, after her divorce from Charlie, she cut her hair into a page-boy and wore it that way the rest of her life.

1927 Mercedes S-Type (Supercharged)

Mechanix Illustrated, March 1949

From “Here at The New Yorker” by Brendan Gill:
“Racing came more naturally to Charlie [Addams] than to Philip [Hamburger] and me; he has always been a collector of fast cars and in his youth he used to take part in races out on Long Island. He likes both fast cars and very old ones: in the nineteen-forties, he received as a present from the playwright Philip Barry, then living in East Hampton, a 1928 Mercedes-Benz, which Ellen and Philip Barry had driven on the Riviera in the gaudy twenties (the car was sacred for having been occupied by, among others, Sara and Gerald Murphy, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, Léger, and Picasso) and which eventually died, much mourned, in Charlie’s arms. Today [1975] he owns a 1926 Bugatti, a 1933 Aston-Martin, and, for purposes of ordinary transportation, a 1973 Alfa-Romeo.

Charles Addams drove the Mercedes (#1 in the second row)  at the Watkins Glen 1948 Junior Prix.

Addams, wearing a deer-stalker hat, finished 11th of the 23 starters.

Charles and Barbara at the 1951 Bridgehampton Races.

Charles Addams based this cartoon "Uncle Fester prepares to go racing with Morticia in an old Mercedes" on his 1927 Mercedes.


Dec 05 2015 Steve Lucas 9:53 PM

That’s famous cartoonist Charles Addams and his wife Barbara. Some say that Morticia from “The Addams Family” was drawn by Addams to look like Barbara. As to the car: no idea so I’ll just guess 1924 Bentley.

Dec 06 2015 S. Berliner, III 3:19 PM

Too funny!  I was just about to comment on the LI Auto Museum thread that I caught glimpses of this car, in the chopper views of the parade!  It’s macabre cartoonist Charles Addams and one of his three wives, the first two named Barbara, both of whom resembled his cartoon character Morticia Addams.  It’s probably #2, Barbara Jean Day.  They are sitting in his 7.02 litre 1927 Mercedes S-Modell Tourer, which was GIVEN to him by a friend!  At the time of the parade and the 1951 Brideghampton races, it was painted deep green with black fenders/wings and red underside and brake drums, with a polished bare-metal hood/bonnet.  For more on this car, see:

Thanks a million - your photo clearly establishes the presence of those mini-rear-tonneau doors beyond question!

Sam, III

Dec 07 2015 Jeryl Schriever 7:47 AM

Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca?

Dec 07 2015 Art Kleiner 1:36 PM

Could that be cartoonist Charles Addams?  In a Mercedes?

With his wife, Barbara Jean Day who would become the inspiration for Morticia Addams of TV fame?

Dec 07 2015 Howard Kroplick 3:10 PM

From Earl Gandel:

Mystery photo guess; Charles and Tee Addams and a Bugatti?

Dec 07 2015 Howard Kroplick 3:12 PM

From John Bayer:

Hi Howard,

I think I’ve got the mystery photo answers this week:

  Identify the gentleman in the automobile
A: Cartoonist Charles Addams

  Identify the woman in the automobile. Why does she look familiar?

A: Addams’ 1st wife, Barbara Jean Day - said to resemble Morticia of his cartoons and the TV series,

  Identify the automobile

A: Addams’ 1927 Mercedes S-type (supercharged), that he also drove at Watkins Glen and other early US races, before he painted the rear portion of the body all black,

John Bayer

Dec 09 2015 frank femenias 11:49 PM

Nice links Sam and John. Great stuff everyone, had no clue.

May 28 2016 Spurwing Plover 11:07 PM

Uncle fester was played by the child star Jackie Coogan while Carolyn Jones played Morticia Gomez was played by John Astin and Ted Cassidy was lurch(You Rang?) who was also the voice of Franenstein Jr

Feb 08 2017 S. Berliner, III 11:34 AM

Missed a point - that cartoon is NOT of a 27 S-modell!  It depicts a much older race car, ca. 1910.  And Morticia predates ANY Mrs, Addams!  Sam, III

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