Charles Addams, Virginia de Luce, and Jacques Tunick at the “5th Avenue Meet,” New York City, NY, April 24, 1960 (Photo ID Co4879, Album 27, Box 37, Series III: Photo Albums, Henry Austin Clark, Jr., Photoprint collection, Acc. 1774, Benson Ford Research Center)
From the Department of Failed Research Requests.
In my role as reference and research archivist, I search through archival collections looking for answers to the queries that come across my desk. Some I find the answers to, others I do not, but I never come away from my quests completely empty-handed–even if what I’ve learned isn’t exactly what I was looking for. Here are some of the serendipitous treasures I’ve unearthed during the process.
Best known for his witty yet macabre cartoons, particularly those which gave birth to the cult favorite “The Addams Family” TV show, Charles Addams was also a motor enthusiast–a collector of vintage automobiles and a fiend for the fast “modern speedster.”
The images shown here, from the Henry Austin Clark, Jr., collection, are two of several that depict Charles Addams and other celebrities participating in an antique car meet in New York City, one that looks not altogether different from our own Old Car Festival, coming up this weekend, September 12-13. (Henry Austin, Clark, Jr., it should be noted, was quite the car enthusiast himself, being an automotive historian and collector not only of automobiles but of automobile literature, photographs, and the like–a collection that he donated along with his personal papers to the Benson Ford Research Center.)
Addams remained a car connoisseur to the end. In fact, if it is not being too morbid to note (I don’t think Addams would have thought so), in 1988 he died of a heart attack in one of his cars, an Audi 4000, right after parking it in front of his home. Fans like me still feel his loss, but to my delight and I am sure that of my librarian cousins, in lieu of a wake he directed that a party be held in his honor at the New York Public Library (which along with such institutions as the Library of Congress and the Museum of the City of New York hold some of his works in their permanent collections).