The Tragic Truth About The Original Wednesday From The Addams Family

It's no secret that not all child stars grow up to have happy and successful lives. The list of child stars who, after their star faded, battled substance abuse issues, toxic relationships, financial difficulties, or other setbacks is lengthy and growing by the day. For example, every child actor on "Diff'rent Strokes" had it difficult after the show ended. Dana Plato died of a drug overdose in 1999, according to Biography; Gary Coleman suffered from typecasting and became tabloid fodder before dying in 2010, according to The Guardian; and Todd Bridges, though alive and well, also suffered from substance abuse issues, as reported by Amomama.

Back in the 1960s, a precocious young girl named Lisa Loring got the job of Wednesday Addams on "The Addams Family," and only appeared on the show for two years. However, her career quickly ground to a halt, and afterward, her life went into a spiral of personal tragedies, substance abuse, and toxic relationships.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Lisa Loring's career tanked after The Addams Family

Typecasting has ruined more than one actor's career, and Lisa Loring is no exception. After "The Addams Family," her career as a child star hung on for dear life, as she managed to get TV credits, which included "The Phyllis Diller Show," "The Girl From U.N.C.L.E," and a handful of episodes of "As the World Turns" between 1980 and 1983. In 1977, she revived her role as Wednesday for "Halloween with the New Addams Family."

However, as the years passed, she took on less-visible roles with less frequency, racking up only a handful of credits over the next decade and a half, according to IMDb. By 1987, Loring's career had entered a third phase. She took on roles in slasher films, appearing in D-movies like "Savage Harbor," "Blood Frenzy," and "Iced." Between 1992 and 2015, she would turn in three credited roles, all in low-visibility projects.

Married and divorced multiple times

By the time she was a teenager, according to People, she'd already entered into the first of what would be her four marriages. Her first was to her childhood sweetheart Farrell Foumberg, and by the age of 15, she was pregnant with her first child. It was during her first marriage that Loring suffered a devastating tragedy: her 34-year-old mother, Judith, died of complications of alcoholism. Her marriage to Foumberg soured, and they divorced. 

Loring married a second time, to actor Doug Stevenson, from whom she would divorce a short time later. Her third marriage was to adult film actor Jerry Butler (real name: Paul Siederman), whom she met while she was working in the same industry, albeit as a makeup artist. That marriage failed as well. She got married a fourth time, to Graham Ritch, in 2003, according to TMZ, and they separated a few years later, although she never got around to filing for divorce until 2014.

Her marriage to Jerry Butler was particularly toxic

As previously mentioned, Lisa Loring's third marriage was to adult film star Jerry Butler. While she worked behind the scenes, Butler was very much in front of the cameras, and that didn't sit well with Lisa. According to AVN, she wanted him to quit. Butler, however, snuck behind her back and continued to perform, leading to strife in their marriage. 

Twice in their marriage, they went onto reality TV to talk things out for a syndicated TV program, once on the "Sally Jesse Raphael Show" and once on "Geraldo." In the "Geraldo" appearance, which can be seen on YouTube, Lisa made it clear that their marriage was based on Jerry's giving up the adult film industry. "We had an agreement that he would not, absolutely not, continue doing [adult films]," she said, noting that eight months later she found out he was continuing to work behind her back.

Substance abuse issues and attempted suicide

It was during her marriage to Jerry Butler that Lisa Loring developed a substance abuse problem, according to People. In order to cope with her toxic and failing marriage, she turned to drugs — heroin specifically — and soon got hooked. It was also during this time that she made a gruesome discovery that would haunt her and push her toward an attempted suicide. 

In 1991, she discovered the body of her friend, Kelly Van Dyke (daughter of actor Jerry), who hung herself. Some time after that, Loring herself tried to deliberately overdose, but failed. "I was disillusioned about my adult life," she said of that period. She then checked herself into rehab, and as Amomama reports, put her substance abuse issues in the rearview mirror for good. In ditching her drug habit, she also abandoned the entertainment industry, instead opting for a day job, although she left open the possibility of returning to acting.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

A day job and conventions

After her drug rehab, Lisa Loring semi-permanently retired from working on film sets, whether they be TV, movie, or adult film-oriented, and instead entered the quiet anonymity of a nine-to-five. Specifically, according to Amomama, she went to work at a Santa Monica interior design firm. In more recent years, she'd taken to appearing at entertainment conventions and meeting fans.

All the way back in 1995, as she told People, she reconsidered going back into acting and was even making an effort at it. "I'm trying, but I'm afraid of the rejection," she said. She also noted that there is one movie genre that she won't touch with a 10-foot pole. "I will not do any schlock," she said, although she left open the possibility that she'd do schlock-as-art. "But I'd love to do a Quentin Tarantino film."

Lisa Loring's death

On January 30, 2023, CNN announced that Loring died on Saturday, January 28, at the age of 64. Loring's longtime friend, Laurie Jacobson, wrote on Facebook that she had died of a stroke after years of smoking and high blood pressure. Along with photos of Loring, Jacobson added: "She is embedded in the tapestry that is pop culture and in our hearts always as Wednesday Addams," Jacobson wrote.

Loring's daughter, Vanessa Foumberg, confirmed Jacobson's statement that her mother died from complications resulting from a stroke (per Variety). Foumberg went on to say (via The Hollywood Reporter) that Loring died at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, located in Burbank, Calif. She noted that Loring was on life support and after three days, Loring's family made the decision to terminate life support. When Loring died, she was surrounded by members of her family. Foumberg said (via The Guardian), "She went peacefully with both her daughters holding her hands."