John Allen Astin (born March 30, 1930) is an American actor who has appeared in numerous films and television shows, and is best known for the role of Gomez Addams on The Addams Family, and other similarly eccentric comedic characters.
Astin was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Margaret Linnie (née Mackenzie) and Dr. Allen Varley Astin, who was the director of the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology). He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1952, after transferring from Washington and Jefferson College. He initially studied mathematics at Washington & Jefferson then became a drama major at Johns Hopkins; he was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at Johns Hopkins.
Astin started in theater, doing voice-over work for commercials. His first big break came with a small part in West Side Story in 1961. At this time, he also guest starred on the ABC sitcom, Harrigan and Son, starring Pat O'Brien. In 1962–1963, he starred with Marty Ingels in the sitcom I'm Dickens, He's Fenster, which aired thirty-one episodes in a single season. From 1964–1966, he starred in The Addams Family as Gomez Addams, the head of the macabre family. He appeared in the TV show The New Addams Family as Grandpapa Addams in 1998, with the role of Gomez Addams played by Glenn Taranto.
Astin also played the Riddler on ABC's Batman during Frank Gorshin's second season departure. (Gorshin came back for the third and final season.) He played submarine commander Matthew Sherman in the 1970s TV series Operation Petticoat. He also made a notable appearance in popular mystery show Murder, She Wrote, as the villainous Sheriff Harry Pierce. He had a recurring role on the sitcom Night Court as Buddy, eccentric former mental patient and the stepfather of lead character Harry Stone. He also played the regular role of Ed LaSalle in the short-lived Mary Tyler Moore sitcom Mary during the 1985–86 television season. He guest starred on numerous television series too, including a Gunsmoke appearance in 1967 as Festus's cousin Henry, Jack Palance's ABC circus drama, The Greatest Show on Earth and Duckman.
Astin received an Academy Award nomination for Prelude, a short film that he wrote, produced, and directed. He was nominated for an Ace Award for his work on Tales from the Crypt, and received an Emmy nomination for the cartoon voice of Gomez on ABC-TV's The Addams Family. He also voiced the character Bull Gator on the animated series Taz-Mania. Astin served for four years on the Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America, and has been active in community affairs in Los Angeles and Santa Monica.
He has continued to work in acting, appearing in a string of Killer Tomatoes films as Professor Gangreen and as Professor Wickwire in The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
He also has toured the one-man play Edgar Allan Poe: Once Upon a Midnight, written by Paul Day Clemens and Ron Magid. In a December 2007, Baltimore Examiner interview, Astin said of his acting experience:
“We all struggle, and I had plenty of that, but I've had a great time. I've done hundreds of TV shows and 30 to 40 movies, and I love acting. I'm very happy having done the Poe. That's been really terrific. ”
Astin currently teaches method acting and directing in the Writing Seminars Department at Johns Hopkins University, his alma mater. Commenting on his dual career, he said in 2007, "I don't know one major university that has a known actor teaching every day." He hopes to re-establish a drama major at the university, noting that he is one of only a handful to earn a drama degree from Hopkins. Astin can be seen singing and playing cowbell in a music video from JHU released in December 2009.
He has five sons, three (David, Allen, and Tom) by his first wife, Suzanne Hahn, and another (Mackenzie Astin) by his second wife, actress Patty Duke. John also legally adopted Sean Astin, Duke's son from a previous marriage. John Astin is currently married to Valerie Ann Sandobal and lives in Baltimore. He is a practicing Buddhist.
His younger brother, Alexander Astin, is a professor emeritus at UCLA. He has five granddaughters: Alexandra, Elizabeth, Isabella, Sedona and Jaya.
The Twilight Zone: "A Hundred Yards Over the Rim" (1961)
West Side Story (1961) – Glad Hand, Social Worker Leading Dance
That Touch of Mink (1962) - Mr. Everett Beasley
Move Over Darling (1963) - Clyde Prokey
The Addams Family (1964–66) (television) – Gomez Addams
Batman: "Batman's Anniversary/A Riddling Controversy" (1967) (television) – The Riddler (#2)
The Wild Wild West: "The Night of the Tartar" (1967) (television) – Count Nikolai Sazanov
The Flying Nun: "Flight of the Dodo Bird" (1967) (television) – Father Lundigan
Candy: (1968) – Mister Christian
Viva Max! (1969) – Sergeant Valdez
Bunny O'Hare (1971) – Ad
Night Gallery: "Pamela's Voice" (1971) (television)
Night Gallery: "The Girl with the Hungry Eyes" (October 1, 1972) (television) - Mr. Munch
Evil Roy Slade (1972) – Evil Roy Slade
The Partridge Family (1973) (television) - Sydney Rose in The Mad Millionaire
Get to Know Your Rabbit (1972)
Freaky Friday (1976) – Bill Andrews
Operation Petticoat (1977) - Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Sherman
National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985) - Kent Winkdale (host of "Pig in a Poke")
Mr. Boogedy (1986) – Neil Witherspoon
Teen Wolf Too (1987) – Dean Dunn
Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988) – Professor Gangreen
Killer Tomatoes Strike Back (1990) – Professor Gangreen
Killer Tomatoes Eat France (1991) – Professor Gangreen
Eerie Indiana (1991) (television) – Radford
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993) (television) – Professor Albert Wickwire
Night Court (1986) – Former Mental Patient Buddy Ryan (revealed later in the series to be Judge Harry Stone's father)
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) – Janitor
Taz-Mania (1991) (television) – Bull Gator (voice)
The Addams Family, animated series (1992) – Gomez Addams (voice)
The Silence of the Hams (1993) – The Ranger
Duckman (1994) – Terry Duke Tetzloff (voice)
Mad About You: "Up All Night" (1994) (television) – himself
Super Password – Himself
The Frighteners (1996) – The Judge
The Nanny (1996) - The Plastic Surgeon (episode - Tattoo)
School of Life (2005) – Stormin' Norman Warner
1.^ "John Astin Biography". filmreference. 2008. http://www.filmreference.com/film/93/John-Astin.html. Retrieved 2009-01-17.
2.^ Jessica Novak (28December 2007). "Johns Hopkins' leading man". The Baltimore Examiner.