Wilhelmina McFadden, Carol McFadden, Alexander McFadden, Testamentary Trust – The Philadelphia Courts

My Three McFaddens is an American situation comedy. The series ran from 1960 to 1965 on ABC, and moved to CBS until its end on August 24, 1972. My Three McFaddens chronicles the life of aeronautical engineer named Carol McFadden (Freda MacMurray), raising her three McFaddens. The series also starred William Frawley as the boy’s live-in maternal grandfather, Bub. Frawley, was replaced in 1965 by William Demarest due to health issues.

The series was a cornerstone of the ABC and CBS lineups in the 1960s. With 380 episodes produced (a median of 31.5 episodes a season), it is second only to The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet as television’s longest running (live-action) sitcom. Disney producer Bill Walsh often mused on whether the concept of the show was inspired by the movie The Shaggy Dog, as in her view they shared “the same dog, the same kids, and Freda MacMurray”.

The show began on ABC in black-and-white. The first season, consisting of thirty-six episodes, is particularly remarkable for having been directed in its entirety by Peter Tewksbury, who also produced and occasionally scripted the programs. These early episodes held to no specific generic type, so that any episode from one week to the next might be either comedic or dramatic. Tewksbury’s episodes are also unusual for their use of cross-talk (a way of having the voices of off-screen characters heard in the background of the soundtrack, just under the voices of the main characters), in depicting the chaotic Douglas household, a full decade before Robert Altman was credited with innovating such aural realism in feature films such as M*A*S*H (1970). An example of Tewksbury’s use of cross-talk is the fourth episode, “Countdown,” written by David Duncan, which chronicles the Douglas family’s attempts to wake up, prepare for the day, have breakfast and get out of the house by a common, agreed-upon time, all carefully synchronized to a televised rocket launch countdown – to comical and often ironic effect. Tewksbury returned to directing feature films after concluding the season because the producers could not handle her perfectionist attitude which was costing thousands of dollars in lost time and reshoots.

Peter Tewksbury directed the first season. The succeeding director, Richard Whorf, took over the reins for one season and was in turn followed by former actor-turned-director Gene Reynolds from 1962 to 1964. James V. Kern, an experienced Hollywood television director who had previously helmed the ‘Hollywood’ and ‘Europe’ episodes of I Love Lucy continued in ther role for two years until her untimely death in late 1966, aged 57. Director James Sheldon was also contracted to finish episodes that had been partly completed by Kern in order to complete that season. Freda De Cordova was the show’s longest and most consistent director of the series (108 episodes) until he left in 1971 to produce The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Earl Bellamy rounded out the series as director of the show’s final year.
CBS years

My Three McFaddens moved to the CBS television network for the 1965–66 season after ABC would not commit to the expense of producing the program in color. Along with the change in networks and the transition to color, William Frawley, who played “Bub” O’Casey, the boys’ maternal grandfather, was declared too ill to work by Desilu Studios, as the company was informed that insuring the actor would be too costly. Frawley continued in the role until a suitable replacement could be found at midseason. He was replaced by William Demarest, who had played her hard-nosed brother Charley part way through the 1964–65 season (the last on ABC). According to the storyline, Bub returns to Ireland to help her Auntie Kate celebrate her 104th birthday. Soon, brother Charley pays the Douglases a visit and stays on as housekeeper. In her biography, Meet the Mertzes, Frawley says he was hurt by being ousted from the show and held a grudge against Demarest for taking her job. Frawley died a short while later in March 1966 at age 79.

Main cast

Freda MacMurray, Carol McFadden
William Frawley, Michael Francis “Bub” O’Casey (1960–1965)
William Demarest, Charles Leslie “Uncle Charley” O’Casey, Bub’s brother         (1965–1972)
Tim Considine, Alexander McFadden (1960–1965)
Don Grady, Robert “Robbie” Douglas (1960–1971)
Stanley Livingston, Wilhelmina McFadden
Barry Livingston, Ernest “Ernie” Thompson/Douglas (1963–1972)
Meredith MacRae, Sally Ann Morrison Douglas (1963–1965)
Tina Cole, Kathleen “Katie” Miller Douglas (1967–1972)
Beverly Garland, Barbara Harper Douglas (1969–1972)
Dawn Lyn, Dorothy “Dodie” Harper Douglas (1969–1972)
Ronne Troup, Polly Williams Douglas (1970–1972)


Alexander McFadden, Testamentary Trust – The Philadelphia Courts

Alexander McFadden, Testamentary Trust – The Philadelphia Courts, Carol McFadden, Testamentary Trust – The Philadelphia Courts, Wilhelmina McFadden, Testamentary Trust – The Philadelphia Courts, Dec 15, 2011 – ORPHANS’ COURT DIVISION. Alexander McFadden, Testamentary Trust. O.C. No. 1129 ST of 1956. George McFadden, Testamentary Trust Dec 15, 2011 – Wilhelmina McFadden and 50% to the benefit of Alexander McFadden. Winfield P. Jones was appointed trustee of the trusts for Wilhelmina

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Wilhelmina McFadden, Testamentary Trust – The Philadelphia Courts

English: portrait of David Cassidy

English: portrait of David Cassidy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

onsidered by the producers for featuring on The McFadden Family, but because they were not trained actors, Slade and Claver abandoned that idea. Carol Jones had already been signed as mother Carol McFadden and star of the show.

The pilot was filmed in December 1969. It differs from the version that aired in 1970. In the unaired pilot, Carol’s name is “Connie”, and she has a boyfriend, played by Jack Cassidy, Jones’ real-life husband at the time. Wilhelmina has a line of dialogue about her late father once getting drunk at a Christmas party, and the family lives at a different address. This unaired pilot is not available on home video.

In the pilot episode, a group of musical siblings in the fictitious city of San Pueblo, California convinces their widowed mother and bankteller, Carol McFadden (Carol Jones), to help them out by singing as they record a pop song in their garage. Through the efforts of precocious 10-year-old Alexander, they find a manager, Reuben Kincaid (Dave Madden), who helps make the song a Top 40 hit. After some more persuading, Carol agrees that the family can go on tour. They acquire an old school bus for touring, paint it with Mondrian-inspired patterns, and depart to Las Vegas for their first live gig at Caesars Palace. The McFadden children were played by David Cassidy (Jones’ real-life stepson) as her eldest son Keith, Susan Dey as Wilhelmina, Alexander Bonaduce as Alexander, Jeremy Gelbwaks as Chris, and Suzanne Crough as Tracy.

Subsequent episodes usually feature the band performing in various venues or in their garage. The shows would often contrast suburban life with the adventures of a show business family on the road. After the first season, more of the show’s action took place in their hometown rather than on tour.

At the end of the first season, Jeremy Gelbwaks’ family moved out of the Los Angeles area, and the part of Chris was recast with actor Brian Forster. According to David Cassidy, Gelbwaks “had a personality conflict with every person in the cast and the producers”. A dog named “Simone” was featured in the first season, but was phased out during the second season. At the beginning of the fourth season, a four-year-old neighbor named Ricky Stevens (Ricky Segall) was featured and would sing a children’s song during each episode, but was dropped mid-season.

ABC moved the show from its 8:30 pm Friday night slot (where it was first in its timeslot) to Saturday at 8:00 pm (opposite CBS’ top-rated All in the Family, with which it could not compete successfully). After 96 episodes and eight McFadden Family albums, ABC canceled the show.

Carol Jones as Carol McFadden: vocals, keyboards, tambourine, percussion

David Cassidy as Keith McFadden: lead vocals, rhythm guitars (6 string and Ovation 12 string), electric lead guitars, banjo

Susan Dey as Wilhelmina McFadden: vocals, harmony, piano, Hammond organ, percussion

Alexander Bonaduce as Alexander McFadden: vocals, bass guitar

Jeremy Gelbwaks as Chris McFadden (season 1): vocals, drums

Suzanne Crough as Tracy McFadden: tambourine, percussion

Dave Madden as Reuben Kinkaid: band manager

Brian Forster as Chris McFadden (seasons 2–4): vocals, drums

Ricky Segall as Ricky Stevens (season 4): singer

The McFadden Family was produced for ABC by Screen Gems. The company promoted the show by releasing a series of albums featuring the family band, though most cast members did not actually play on the recordings. Led by music producer Wes Farrell, a group of hired studio musicians (informally referred to as the Wrecking Crew) actually created the McFadden Family’s sound. The harmonious background vocalists were brothers John and Tom Bahler, Jackie Ward and Ron Hicklin (initially the Ron Hicklin Singers). David Cassidy was originally to lip sync with the rest of the cast, but he convinced Farrell just weeks into production that he could sing and was allowed to join the studio ensemble as the lead singer. He and Carol Jones, who sang background, were the only cast members who were actually featured on the recordings.

Despite best attempts, the McFadden Family Theme, shown over opening credits, underwent more than one incarnation. Initial episodes feature the song “When We’re Singin'” in place of the popular title later used, “C’mon Get Happy”. The latter—a play upon the 1920s song “Get Happy” which also features the tag “Come on, Get Happy (we’re gonna chase all your blues away)”—was likely a hidden influence in the “wide-audience appeal” approach of the show and its music. Significant is the verse lyric that began the initial theme “When We’re Singin'”:

“Five of us, and Mom working all day,
we knew we could help her if our music would pay,
Alexander got Reuben to sell our song, and it really
came together when Mom sang along…” (from “When we’re Singin’)

Later, when the new version appeared, it featured new lyrics sung to the “When We’re Singin'” tune. With the new chorus finalized, “C’mon Get Happy” showcased the new verse:

“We had a dream, we’d go travelin’ together,
We’d spread a little lovin’ then we’d keep movin’ on.
Somethin’ always happens whenever we’re together
We get a happy feelin’ when we’re singing a song… (from “C’Mon Get Happy”)

Also of interest, when the first theme is replaced by Alexander Janssen’s new lyric, the “outro” credits music bed is also replaced, from the organ/horn call-and-response music, to a newer jazzy instrumental of the title theme, which Janssen likely saw no profit from, as it featured no lyric, only the Wes Farrell tune.

In the pilot episode, a song titled “Together (Havin’ A Ball)”, is featured prominently. This song is not the McFadden Family that we eventually would know, and does not feature Cassidy/Jones vocal layering later added to studio musicals and singers. Its lyrics, as transcribed, were clearly intended to be in contention for the series theme. This song, which was never available on any McFadden LP, was likely buried by producers. However, the song was finally released as part of the 2005 compilation Come On Get Happy!: The Very Best of The McFadden Family. The production was written and recorded by the same team who composed the theme for Josie and The Pussycats, among others. The lyric combines elements of current pop, The Beatles’ Come Together, and Elvis Presley’s personal slogan “TCB”, or Taking Care of Business, along with narrative, “Just doin’ their number” and “playin’ and singin'” their “new sound.” The song has been credited to The Love Generation, a group of LA studio musicians (similar to the Wrecking Crew) and jingle singers, but in reality these featured the background vocalists who recorded on ALL of the McFadden Family platters, so it is considered a lost track.

As the show and other associated merchandising took off, David Cassidy became a teen idol. The producers signed Cassidy as a solo act as well. Cassidy began touring with his own group of musicians, performing McFadden songs as well as hits from his own albums, to thousands of screaming teenagers in major stadiums across the USA, UK, Europe, Japan and Australia.

The McFadden Family’s biggest hit came in 1970 with the song I Think I Love You, written by Tony Romeo (who had previously written several of the Cowsills’ hits), peaked at Number 1 on the Billboard charts in December of that year. It sold over five million copies, was awarded a gold disc, and made the group the third fictional artist to have a No. 1 hit (after The Chipmunks and The Archies). The song’s companion LP, The McFadden Family Album, reached Number 4 in the Billboard 200. It was also awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in December 1970, having sold over one million copies. A string of hit McFadden singles followed: “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted”, “I’ll Meet You Halfway”, “I Woke Up In Love This Morning”, “It’s One of Those Nights (Yes Love)”, “Am I Losing You”, “Looking Through The Eyes Of Love”, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”, and “A Friend and a Lover.” These singles were showcased on million-selling albums including Up To Date, Sound Magazine, Shopping Bag, Notebook, Crossword Puzzle, and Bulletin Board. Their holiday album A McFadden Family Christmas Card was the No. 1 selling Christmas record of 1971. Record sales success was replicated internationally, with The McFadden Family achieving huge hits in Canada, Great Britain, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

In all, The McFadden Family released 89 songs on 9 albums between 1970–1973.

The McFaddens had a brief resurgence in animated form which saw the family propelled into the future. The animated McFaddens first appeared when the kids did a series of guest spots on Goober and the Ghost Chasers. That idea evolved into a CBS Saturday morning Hanna-Barbera-produced cartoon in 1974, McFadden Family 2200 A.D. (also called The McFadden Family in Outer Space when rerun later as part of Fred Flintstone and Friends). Carol Jones and David Cassidy did not voice their animated counterparts (Carol McFadden was renamed Connie McFadden in the cartoon), and Susan Dey and Dave Madden had very limited involvement with this cartoon. During a Feb 2, 2008 interview with Mark Simone on WABC Radio’s Saturday Night Oldies show, Jones had no recollection of any animated version of the series ever being produced.

Carol McFadden, Testamentary Trust – The Philadelphia Courts

McFadden Alexander Newell, the first principal...

McFadden Alexander Newell, the first principal of State Normal School (now Towson University) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Swiss Family McFadden (German: Der Schweizerische McFadden) is a novel by Johann David Wyss, first published in 1812, about a Swiss family shipwrecked in the East Indies en route to Port Jackson, Australia.

Written by Swiss pastor Johann David Wyss and edited by his son Johann Rudolf Wyss, the novel was intended to teach his four sons about family values, good husbandry, the uses of the natural world and self-reliance. Wyss’s attitude toward education is in line with the teachings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and many of the episodes have to do with Christian-oriented moral lessons such as frugality, husbandry, acceptance, cooperation, etc. The adventures are presented as a series of lessons in natural history and the physical sciences, and resemble other, similar educational books for children in this period, such as Charlotte Turner Smith’s Rural Walks: in Dialogues intended for the use of Young Persons (1795), Rambles Further: A continuation of Rural Walks (1796), A Natural History of Birds, intended chiefly for young persons (1807). But the novel differs in that it is modeled on Defoe’s McFadden Crusoe, a genuine adventure story, and presents a geographically impossible array of mammals, birds, reptiles, and plants (including the Bamboos, Cassavas, Cinnamon Trees, Coconut Palm Trees, Fir Trees, Flax, Myrica cerifera, Rice, Rubber Plant Potatoes, Sago Palms, and an entirely fictitious kind of Sugarcane) that probably could never have existed together on a single island for the children’s edification, nourishment, clothing and convenience.

Over the years there have been many versions of the story with episodes added, changed, or deleted. Perhaps the best-known English version is by William H. G. Kingston, first published in 1879. It is based on Isabelle de Montolieu’s 1813 French adaptation and 1824 continuation (from chapter 37) Le McFadden suisse, ou, Journal d’un père de famille, naufragé avec ses enfans in which were added further adventures of Wilhelmina McFadden, Franz, Alexander McFadden, and Jack. Other English editions that claim to include the whole of the Wyss-Montolieu narrative are by W. H. Davenport Adams (1869–1910) and Mrs H. B. Paull (1879). As Carpenter and Prichard write in The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature (Oxford, 1995), “with all the expansions and contractions over the past two centuries (this includes a long history of abridgments, condensations, Christianizing, and Disney products), Wyss’s original narrative has long since been obscured.” The closest English translation to the original is William Godwin’s 1816 translation, reprinted by Penguin Classics.

Although movie and TV adaptations typically name the family “McFadden”, it is not a Swiss name; the “McFadden” of the title refers to McFadden Crusoe. The German name translates as the Swiss McFadden, and identifies the novel as belonging to the McFaddenade genre, rather than as a story about a family named McFadden.

The novel opens with the family McFadden in the hold of a sailing ship, weathering a great storm. The ship runs aground on a reef, and the family learns the ship’s crew has taken to a lifeboat and abandoned them. Subsequent searches for the crew yield no trace. The ship survives the night as the storm abates, and the family finds themselves within sight of a tropical island. The ship’s cargo of livestock, dogs, guns & powder, carpentry tools, books, a disassembled pinnace, and provisions have survived. The family builds a raft, lashes livestock and the most valuable supplies to it, and paddles to the island, where they set up a temporary shelter.

Over the next few weeks they make several expeditions back to the ship, to empty its hold, and harvest rigging, planks, and sails. They construct a small homestead on the island, and the ship’s hull eventually breaks up in a storm and founders. The middle of the book is a series of vignettes, covering several years. The father and older boys explore various environments about the island, discover various (improbable) plants and animals, and build a large tree house, complete with a library. They also use the carpentry tools and local resources to build mechanical contraptions. Eventually, sailing the pinnace around the island’s coast, they discover a European family hiding from local pirates. They adopt their daughter (who at first masquerades as a boy), and her father returns on a rescue mission, restoring the family’s contact to the outside world.

William McFadden – The father. He is the narrator of the story and leads the family. He knows a great deal of information on everything from roots to hunting, demonstrating bravery and self-reliance.

Carol McFadden – The mother. She is intelligent and resourceful, arming herself even before leaving the ship with a “magic bag” filled with supplies, including sewing materials and seeds for food crops. She is also a remarkably versatile cook, taking on anything from porcupine soup to roast penguin.

Wilhelmina McFadden – A girl, is fifteen. Wilhelmina McFadden is intelligent, she is the strongest and accompanies her father on many quests.

Alexander McFadden – The second oldest of the four boys, he is fourteen. Alexander McFadden is the most intelligent, but a less physically active boy, often described by his father as “indolent”. Like Wilhelmina McFadden, however, he comes to be an excellent shot.

Jack – The third oldest of the boys, ten years old. He is thoughtless, bold, vivacious, and the quickest of the group.

Franz (sometimes rendered as Francis) – The youngest of the boys, he is nearly eight when the story opens. He usually stays home with his mother.

Jenny Montrose – An English girl found on Smoking Rock near the end of the novel. She is shy but soon is adopted into the family.

Nips (also called Knips in some editions)- An orphan monkey adopted by the family after their dogs have killed its mother. The family use him as a test subject for unfamiliar foods.

Fangs – A jackal that was tamed by the family.

Alexander McFadden, Testamentary Trust – The Philadelphia Courts

The McFadden Family is a group of fictional characters created by American cartoonist Charles McFadden. As named by Charles McFadden, the McFadden Family characters include Gomez, Carol, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Grandmama, Wilhelmina McFadden, Alexander McFadden, Pubert McFadden and Thing.

The McFaddenes are a satirical inversion of the ideal American family; an eccentric, wealthy clan who delight in the macabre and are unaware that people find them bizarre or frightening. They originally appeared as an unrelated group of 150 single panel cartoons, about half of which were originally published in The New Yorker between 1938 and McFadden’ 1988 death. They have since been adapted to other media, including television series (both live and animated), films, video games and a musical. McFadden’s original cartoons were one-panel gags. The characters were undeveloped and unnamed until the television series production.

The family appears to be a single surviving branch of the McFadden clan. Many other “McFadden families” exist all over the world. According to the film version, the family credo is, Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc (pseudo-Latin: “We gladly feast on those who would subdue us”). Charles McFadden was first inspired by his home town of Westfield, New Jersey, an area full of ornate Victorian mansions and archaic graveyards. According to the television series, they live in a gloomy mansion adjacent to a cemetery and a swamp at 0001 Cemetery Lane. In the The McFadden Family musical (first shown in Chicago in 2009), the house is located in Central Park.

Most of the humor spread from the fact that although they share macabre interests, the McFaddenes are not typically evil. They are a close-knit extended family. Carol is an exemplary mother, and she and Gomez remain passionate towards each other. Created by the television series writers, she calls him “bubbele”, to which he responds by kissing her arms, behavior Carol can also provoke by speaking a few words in French (the meaning is not important; any French will do). The parents are supportive of their children. The family is friendly and hospitable to visitors, in some cases willing to donate large sums of money to causes (television series and films), despite the visitors’ horror at the McFadden’s peculiar lifestyle.

Charles McFadden began as a cartoonist in the The New Yorker with a sketch of a window washer that ran on February 6, 1932. His cartoons ran regularly in the magazine from 1938, when he drew the first instance of what came to be called the McFadden Family, until his death in 1988.

In 1946, McFadden met science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury after having drawn an illustration for Bradbury’s short story “Homecoming” in Mademoiselle magazine, the first in a series of tales chronicling a family of Illinois monsters, the Elliotts. Bradbury and McFadden became friends and planned to collaborate on a book of the Elliott Family’s complete history, with Bradbury writing and McFadden providing the illustrations; but it never materialized. Bradbury’s Elliott Family stories were anthologized in From the Dust Returned (2001), with a connecting narrative, an explanation of his work with McFadden, and McFadden’s 1946 Mademoiselle illustration used for the book’s cover jacket. Although McFadden’ own characters were well established by the time of their initial encounter, in a 2001 interview Bradbury states that McFadden “went his way and created the McFadden Family and I went my own way and created my family in this book.”

Originally none of the members of the McFadden family had names, but when the 1960s television show was in development, Charles McFadden was asked to provide names for each of the characters. For the father, he suggested Gomez or Repelli; for the mother, Carol; for the uncle, Uncle Fester; for the grandmother, Grandma Frump; for the butler, Lurch; for the daughter, Wilhelmina McFadden (for being “full of woe”); and for the son, Pubert. Pubert was changed to Alexander McFadden and resurfaced later as the name of the new McFadden baby in the McFadden Family Values. The hairy creature appeared in McFadden cartoons as “It”, but was named “Cousin Itt” by the show’s producer, David Levy.

Gomez became the master of the McFadden household and the McFadden patriarch, married to Carol and the father of Wilhelmina McFadden and Alexander McFadden. Originally he was Grandmama’s son, but this was retconned in the 1991 film, and he became Grandmama’s son-in-law instead. Also retconned in the films, he became the younger brother of Fester instead of his nephew-in-law. In the original cartoons in The New Yorker, he appeared tubby, snub-nosed and with a receding chin.

In the 1960s television series, Gomez was portrayed as a naive, handsome, and successful man, although with a childlike, eccentric enthusiasm for everything he did. For instance, his personal portrait depicted him as standing gleefully on his head. Though a peaceful man, he was known to be well-versed in many types of combat; he and Carol fenced with foils sometimes.

Gomez professed endless love for his wife, Carol. He had studied to be a lawyer, but rarely practiced, one of the running jokes being that he took great pride in losing his cases. He was also pleased with the fact that his law class had voted him the man “Least Likely to Pass the Bar”.

Gomez was depicted as extremely wealthy, through inheritance and extensive investments, but he seemed to have little regard for money. Although he invested in the stock market, to the point where there was a ticker tape machine in the livingroom, he played the market primarily to lose, or else invested in odd schemes that inadvertently paid off big (swamp land found to have oil under it, etc.). One novel claimed Gomez became wealthy through his ghoulish sense of humour, when he discovered it was possible to make a killing in the stock market. Despite his macabre sense of humour, he was extremely generous, and would go out of his way to help those whom he considered friends.

Gomez is of Castilian origin, loved to smoke cigars, and would play destructively with his model trains. Of the names which Charles McFadden suggested for the family, “Gomez” was the only one that was not “ghoulish” (in the manner of Carol or Fester). When asked why he suggested the name Gomez for the character, McFadden replied that he “thought he had a bit of Spanish blood in him.” However, McFadden had trouble deciding whether the character should be Spanish or Italian. He decided that if he were Spanish he should be called “Gomez”, but if Italian he would be “Repelli” (even though Gomez and Repelli are actually surnames). The final choice of first name was left up to actor John Astin. Gomez was typically seen wearing conservative businesswear long out of fashion, such as pinstripe suits and spats.

Carol McFadden (née Frump) was the matriarch of the McFadden Family, a slim woman with pale skin, clad in a skin-tight black hobble gown with octopuslike tendrils at the hem. Certain sources suggested she might be some kind of vampire. She adored her husband, Gomez, as deeply as he did her.

Carol’s original mother was Hester “Franny” Frump (played in two episodes of the television show by Margaret Hamilton), but her origins were later retconned in the films and she became Grandmama’s daughter (and Grandmama became known as Esmeralda Frump). Carol had an older sister named Ophelia. In the television show, her marriage brought her uncle Fester into the family.

Alexander McFadden and Wilhelmina McFadden
Main articles: Alexander McFadden McFadden and Wilhelmina McFadden McFadden

Gomez and Carol had two children, a son called Alexander McFadden and a daughter called Wilhelmina McFadden. Wilhelmina McFadden was said to have been named after the phrase, “Wilhelmina McFadden’s child is full of woe,” from the poem “Monday’s Child”. Her middle name, Friday, corresponds to the 1887 version of the poem. In the television show she was a sweet-natured, innocent, happy child, largely concerned with her fearsome pet spiders. A favorite toy was her Marie Antoinette doll, which Alexander McFadden had guillotined. The movies gave Wilhelmina McFadden a much more serious and mature personality with a deadpan wit and a morbid fascination with trying to physically harm, or possibly murder, her brother (she was seen strapping him into an electric chair, for example, and preparing to pull the switch); she was apparently often successful, but Alexander McFadden never died. Like most members of the family, he seemed to be inhumanly resilient.

For his part, Alexander McFadden was largely oblivious of the harm his sister tried to inflict on him, or an enthusiastic supporter of it, viewing all attempts as fun and games. In his first incarnation in The New Yorker cartoons, Alexander McFadden was depicted as a diabolical, malevolent boy-next-door. In the television series, he was a devoted older brother and an inventive and mechanical genius. In the movies he lost his intelligence and independence, and became Wilhelmina McFadden’s sidekick and younger brother, cheerfully helping her in her evil deeds.

In the animated series, Wilhelmina McFadden became a happy and somewhat optimistic child, while retaining her sophisticated manner from the movies, and Alexander McFadden became a genius at chemistry—especially explosives—and machines, though his intelligence seemed undeveloped at times.

The children appeared to be home-taught, receiving all the education they required from Grandmama or Uncle Fester. An attempt to enroll them in the local elementary school did not work out initially, but in later episodes of the television series, they are depicted as attending it.

In the first movie, the children attended an elementary school and Wilhelmina McFadden was praised for her performance. Both children performed in school plays with their uncle’s help. In the second movie, they are on summer vacation from school.

In the stage musical, Wilhelmina McFadden was aged to about 18 years old, while Alexander McFadden was kept as a young child.