Once you get above 50, the obit page seems to have two subliminal words on it: YOU'RE NEXT. You're looking at people you grew up with, and people who aren't much older than you. Suddenly the macabre world of "The Addams Family," for example, is not quite so funny. It was amusing when pudgy, dumb-looking Pugsley and his family held a picnic in a cemetery. But…
…with the recent deaths of Jack Bruce, Bobby Keys and Ian McLaglen, it does make it more difficult to ignore mortality. Hell, Ken Weatherwax was a kid at a time many of us were also kids! This guy could've been an older brother. Or a younger brother. (In fact, he was the brother of the kid who played "Porky" a few years earlier on the "Lassie" TV series).
Bruce, Keys and McLaglen are frankly too well known to be on this blog of less renown. Their music has been happily stolen "in tribute" on many blogs. The usual parasitic worms have happily filled their wormholes with every "RIP" request to own all of Jack Bruce and Cream, all of Bobby Keys and the Rolling Stones, all of the Faces albums, etc. etc. Below? Oh, just one cut from the "Addams Family" soundtrack, in honor of a guy I did actually meet.
I met Weatherwax over 20 years ago, and he wasn't as Weather-beaten as he looks in the photo on the right. He had no beard, and he was still pretty chunky (your typical burly stagehand type). He told me that he had been typecast after playing Pugsley, and by the time he got out of the Army, he was just an ordinary guy who wasn't so balloon-y he could get comical fat guy roles. So he drifted behind the scenes and worked in set design and other union jobs. He made a decent living which, later, was augmented when he sat a desk doing the $20-per-photo bit at memorabilia conventions.
I met most of the "Addams Family" gang at one time or another, as interviewer or photographer. They were all very pleasant, down to Earth people. I'll admit that I was far more interested in Lisa Loring (who blossomed from pale, sullen Wednesday to an attractive 20-something) than Ken! John Astin was friendly and intellectual. Jackie Coogan was courteous and serious. Carolyn Jones was like royalty.
Ken, not a trained actor, had gotten the Pugsley job because he was part of a show biz family (Rudd Weatherwax trained Lassie the wonder dog) and there weren't all that many fat kids who looked, well, Pugsley-esque. He was down to Earth, not at all bitter, and seemed grateful to have a little fame and fortune for himself. Not many could parlay a few years on one sitcom into a "hobby" of Comic-Con shows and getting a steady amount of fan mail. One of the shows lesser characters, all he did was show enthusiasm over eating spiders and playing with guillotines and wrecking toy trains and whatever else was Pugsley-esque.
"The Addams Family" soundtrack featured songs for Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Thing and Lurch, but no signature tune for either of the kids. However in tribute to Ken, I've selected the playful "One Little Two Little Three Little Tombstones" to honor him. It's a variation on the finger-snapping title track, with a certain nursery-tune element to it.
If you prefer, the three little tombstones could be for Jack Bruce, Ian McLaglen and Bobby Keys.
One little Two Little Three Little Tombstones