‘The Addams Family’: Jack LaLanne Was One of the Only Characters To Play Himself on the Show

by Taylor Cunningham

In a 1966 episode of The Addams Family, old-school fitness guru Jack LaLanne tried to whip Uncle Fester into shape. And his guest appearance was one of the only times that a person played themself on the series.

In Fester Goes on a Diet, Fester had fallen in love with his pen pal named Yvette, whom he was set to meet. And he was determined to look his best his special lady. So Fester secretly recruited Jack LaLanne to help.

Uncle Fester may didn’t become a svelte hunk in The Addams Family episode, but he still managed to wow his date. And Fester’s steadfast determination made Jake LaLanne proud.

“See, happiness to me is this moment,” LaLanne told his pupil. “If you have enough willpower to control yourself, you control your thoughts. ‘Cause that’s what you and I have. We have these negative thoughts that everyone has ever thought, good thoughts, bad thoughts. But if we’re strong enough to be able to weed out the bad, just take the good and dwell on the positive — then we’re working on happiness.”

Jack LaLanne Went on His Own Fitness Journey Before Guest Starring on ‘The Addams Family’

Jack LaLanne was an all-around health icon in the real world. When he filmed on The Addams Family, he was 52 years old. And he was still able to swim 1,000 miles with his hands and feet cuffed—all while pulling a boat.

With such superhuman prowess, LaLanne was a pop-culture phenomenon. And in his life, he published multiple bestselling books, hosted his own television show, and eventually became an in-demand motivational speaker.

But before Jack LaLanne became a worldwide inspiration, he was a lot like Pugsley.

In 1979, he told The Washington Post that, as a child, he was overweight, addicted to junk food, and had tried to kill his own brother twice. And he claimed that his poor diet was the cause of his dangerous temperament.

And while Jack LaLanne continued to fill his body with sugary foods, his mind and body continued to deteriorate.

“I got failing grades in school,” he admitted. “It was affecting my brain. It was affecting my intellect. I was so weak and skinny I couldn’t participate in sports. I had pimples and boils, and I was wearing glasses. The doctor recommended my parents take me out of school for six months.”

While Jack LaLanne was on a learning hiatus, his parents took him to see a nutritionist, who promised that all of his physical and emotional trouble would disappear if he changed his diet and started exercising.

Lalanne told the publication that he immediately devoted himself to a healthier lifestyle. Each night, he prayed for the willpower to follow through. And all his hard work paid off.

“By the time I was a senior in high school, I had scholarships to three different universities for sports,” shared LaLanne.

The experience led LaLanne to become a fitness pro who helped other people overcome their own health struggles.

“People need leaders,” LaLanne continued. “They need examples.