Actor John Astin

John Allen Astin (born March 30, 1930) is an American actor who has appeared in numerous films and television series, as well as a television director and voice artist. He is best known for starring as Gomez Addams in The Addams Family (1964–1966), reprising the role in the television film Halloween with the New Addams Family (1977) and the animated series The Addams Family (1992–1993). Notable film roles include in West Side Story (1961), That Touch of Mink (1962), Move Over, Darling (1963), Freaky Friday (1976), National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985), Teen Wolf Too (1987) and The Frighteners (1996). His second wife was actress Patty Duke and he is the adoptive father of Duke’s son, actor Sean Astin.

Astin was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for his directorial debut, the comedic short Prelude (1968).

Early years

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). At that time, Astin and his family resided on Battery Lane in Bethesda, Maryland. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1952, after transferring from Washington & Jefferson College. He studied mathematics at Washington & Jefferson and then drama at Johns Hopkins; he was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at Johns Hopkins.

Career

Astin started in theater, making his first Broadway appearance as an understudy in Major Barbara, and also did voice-over work for commercials. His first big break in film came with a small role in West Side Story (1961).

During this period, his talent for also playing comedy was spotted by actor Tony Randall, leading to guest starring roles on the sitcom Dennis the Menace, starring Jay North; The Donna Reed Show; and Harrigan and Son, starring Pat O’Brien, the first carried on CBS and the latter two carried on ABC. In 1961, Astin appeared in the final episode of the ABC police drama The Asphalt Jungle. In 1962–63, he starred with Marty Ingels on the unusual ABC sitcom I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster, which lasted for thirty-one episodes.

From 1964 to 1966, Astin starred in the comedic television series The Addams Family as Gomez Addams, the head of the macabre family, based on cartoons created by Charles Addams. He later reprised the role of Gomez in the 1977 made-for-television film Halloween with the New Addams Family and voiced the role of Gomez in the animated series The Addams Family from 1992 to 1993. In the Canadian-American television series The New Addams Family, which ran from 1998 to 1999, Astin appeared as Grandpapa Addams, with the role of Gomez played by Glenn Taranto.

Astin joined the retooled The Pruitts of Southampton (re-titled The Phyllis Diller Show) for the second half of the 1966–67 season, playing Diller’s brother-in-law, Angus Pruitt. He also played the Riddler in the second season of Batman (Frank Gorshin returned for the third and final season.) He played submarine commander Matthew Sherman on the 1970s television series Operation Petticoat. He also made several appearances in the first two seasons of the popular mystery series Murder, She Wrote, as scheming real estate developer (and finally Sheriff) Harry Pierce, who ends up as the murderer in his last episode. He had a recurring role on the sitcom Night Court as Buddy, eccentric former mental patient and the father of lead character Harry Stone. Astin played the regular role of Ed LaSalle on the short-lived Mary Tyler Moore sitcom Mary during the 1985–86 television season. He also guest starred on numerous television series, including appearances on Duckman, Homeboys in Outer Space, Jack Palance’s ABC circus drama The Greatest Show on Earth, and a 1967 episode of Gunsmoke as Festus Haggen’s cousin Henry.

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 Award 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.. In 1996 he featured as The Judge, the ghost of an Old West gunslinger, in Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners. 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 serves as a member on the board of directors for the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts in Columbia, Maryland.

Teaching

Astin is director of the Theater Arts and Studies Department and Homewood Professor of the Arts at Johns Hopkins University, his alma mater, which offers an undergraduate minor program. Commenting on his dual career, he said in 2007, “I don’t know one major university that has a known actor teaching every day.” Astin noted that he is one of only a handful to earn a drama degree from Hopkins. He has taught at Hopkins since 2001. Devika Bhise has been working with the university to create “The Astin Fund”, an endowed chair that would allow theater to be a major at Johns Hopkins University for undergraduates.

Personal life

Astin has five sons; three (David, Allen and Tom) with his first wife, Suzanne Hahn; two with his second wife, actress Patty Duke – one adopted (Sean, Patty’s son from an earlier relationship, whom John adopted during their marriage) and one biological (Mackenzie).

Astin married Valerie Ann Sandobal in 1989 and the couple reside in Baltimore, Maryland.

Astin practices Nichiren Buddhism as a member of the worldwide Buddhist association Soka Gakkai International.

Filmography

Astin’s film and television roles include:

Film

Year Title Role Notes ref
1960 The Pusher Detective
1961 West Side Story Glad Hand, Social Worker Leading Dance American romantic musical drama film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins.
The film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was inspired by William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet.
1962 That Touch of Mink Mr. Everett Beasley
1963 Move Over, Darling Clyde Prokey The picture was a remake of a screwball comedy film, My Favorite Wife (1940), with Irene Dunne, Cary Grant and Gail Patrick.
In between these movies, a version entitled Something’s Got to Give began shooting in 1962, directed by George Cukor and starring Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin, but was never finished.
The Wheeler Dealers SEC official Released as Separate Beds in the UK
1967 The Spirit Is Willing Dr. Frieden
1968 Candy Daddy / Uncle Jack Sex farce film directed by Christian Marquand based on the 1958 novel by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg, from a screenplay by Buck Henry.
The film satirizes pornographic stories through the adventures of its naive heroine, Candy, played by Ewa Aulin.
1969 Viva Max! Sergeant Valdez Comedy film
1971 Bunny O’Hare Ad American comedy film directed by Gerd Oswald.
Bette Davis was unhappy with the final film and sued AIP for $3.3 million in damages.
1972 Un secuestro de locura Star Spanish-language film.
Directed by Cy Howard.
Evil Roy Slade Evil Roy Slade
Get to Know Your Rabbit Mr. Turnbull
Every Little Crook and Nanny Vito Garbugli
Wacky Taxi Pepper
1973 The Brothers O’Toole Michael O’Toole / Desperate Ambrose Littleberry
1976 Freaky Friday Bill Andrews American fantasy comedy film directed by Gary Nelson.
1985 National Lampoon’s European Vacation Kent Winkdale (host of “Pig in a Poke”) Originally given the working title Vacation ‘2’ Europe.
The second film in National Lampoon’s Vacation film series.
1987 Teen Wolf Too Dean Dunn American comedy film
The sequel to Teen Wolf.
Body Slam Scotty the car dealer American comedy film directed by Hal Needham.
1988 Return of the Killer Tomatoes Professor Mortimer Gangreen A horror comedy film
The second film in the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes film series.
1989 Night Life Uncle Verlin A horror comedy film
1990 Gremlins 2: The New Batch Janitor
Killer Tomatoes Strike Back Professor Mortimer Gangreen The third film in the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes film series.
1991 Killer Tomatoes Eat France Professor Mortimer Gangreen The fourth film in the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes film series.
1993 Stepmonster Minister Direct-to-video film
1994 The Silence of the Hams The Ranger Italian: Il Silenzio dei Prosciutti
Parody film of many popular thriller and horror films, notably The Silence of the Lambs and Psycho.
Huck and the King of Hearts Zach
1996 The Frighteners The Judge New Zealand-American horror comedy fantasy film directed by Peter Jackson and co-written with his wife, Fran Walsh.
2001 Betaville President Sender
2006 What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Quantum Voice
2015 Starship II: Rendezvous with Ramses Professor Peabody

  • American romantic musical drama film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins.
  • The film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was inspired by William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet.
  • The picture was a remake of a screwball comedy film, My Favorite Wife (1940), with Irene Dunne, Cary Grant and Gail Patrick.
  • In between these movies, a version entitled Something’s Got to Give began shooting in 1962, directed by George Cukor and starring Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin, but was never finished.
  • Sex farce film directed by Christian Marquand based on the 1958 novel by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg, from a screenplay by Buck Henry.
  • The film satirizes pornographic stories through the adventures of its naive heroine, Candy, played by Ewa Aulin.
  • American comedy film directed by Gerd Oswald.
  • Bette Davis was unhappy with the final film and sued AIP for $3.3 million in damages.
  • Spanish-language film.
  • Directed by Cy Howard.
  • Originally given the working title Vacation ‘2’ Europe.
  • The second film in National Lampoon’s Vacation film series.
  • American comedy film
  • The sequel to Teen Wolf.
  • A horror comedy film
  • The second film in the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes film series.
  • Italian: Il Silenzio dei Prosciutti
  • Parody film of many popular thriller and horror films, notably The Silence of the Lambs and Psycho.
  • Television

    Year Title Role Notes ref
    1960 Maverick Joe Lambert Episode: “The Town That Wasn’t There” (S 4:Ep 3)
    1961 The Twilight Zone Charlie Episode: “A Hundred Yards Over the Rim” (S 2:Ep 23)
    1962 77 Sunset Strip (1958-1964 TV series) Martin Grosch Episode: “Dress Rehearsal” (S4:Ep36) air: 05/25/1962
    1962 Ben Casey Nat Morris Episode: “Preferably, the Less-Used Arm” (S 1:Ep 29)
    1962–63 I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster Harry Dickens Main role
    1964–66 The Addams Family Gomez Addams Main role
    1967 The Pruitts of Southampton Rudy Pruitt Main role
    The show was based on the novel House Party (1954) by Patrick Dennis.
    It was ABC’s futile attempt to turn female stand-up comic Phyllis Diller into a sitcom comedian in the style of Lucille Ball.
    Batman The Riddler Episodes:
    “Batman’s Anniversary”
    “A Riddling Controversy”
    The Wild Wild West Count Nikolai Sazanov Episode: “The Night of the Tartar”
    The Flying Nun Father Lundigan Episode: “Flight of the Dodo Bird”
    Gunsmoke Henry Haggen Episode: “Hard Luck Henry” (S 13:Ep 7)
    1968 Death Valley Days Jesse Martin Episode: “The Gold Mine on Main Street” (S 16: Ep 20)
    1969 Bonanza Abner Willoughby Episode: “Abner Willoughby’s return” (S 11:Ep 13)
    1971 The Odd Couple Beau Buffingham Episode: “Oscar’s New Life” (S 1:Ep 21)
    Night Gallery Jonathon Episode: “Pamela’s Voice” (S 1:Ep 13)
    Randy Miller Episode: “Hell’s Bells” (S 2:Ep 29)
    1972 Insight Guest star Episode: “Death of an Elephant” (S 12:Ep 23)
    Night Gallery Munsch Episode: “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes” (S 3:Ep 2)
    The New Scooby-Doo Movies Gomez Addams Episode: “Wednesday Is Missing” (S 1:Ep 3)
    1972–73 McMillan & Wife Sykes Episodes:
    “The Night of the Wizard” (S 2:Ep 1)
    “Cop of the Year” (S 2:Ep 3)
    “Two Dollars on Trouble to Win” (S 2:Ep 7)
    1973 The Partridge Family Sydney Rose Episode: “The Mad Millionaire”
    Circle of Fear Fred Colby Episode: “The Graveyard Shift”
    Insight Guest Star Episode: “Truck Stop” (S 13:23)
    1974 Insight Guest star Episode: “The One-Armed Man” (S 15:Ep 20)
    Only with Married Men Dr. Harvey Osterman Television film
    1975 The Dream Makers Manny Wheeler Television film
    1975– 1979 Welcome Back, Kotter Museum curator Recurring role
    1976 Police Story Dr. Milford Episode: “Firebird” (S 3:Ep 18)
    1977 Halloween with the New Addams Family Gomez Addams Television film
    1977–78 Operation Petticoat Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Sherman Main role
    1978 Insight Guest star Episode: “Second Chorus” (S 18:Ep 31)
    The Love Boat Dave, The Hermit Episode: “Marooned” (S 2:Ep 1)
    Fantasy Island Charles D. Preston Episode: “The Beachcomber / The Last Whodunit” (S 2:Ep 3)
    1984 The Facts of Life Vito Miles Episode: “The Summer of ’84” (S 6:Ep 1)
    Diff’rent Strokes C.W. Episode: “A Haunting We Will Go” (S 7:Ep 1)
    Murder, She Wrote Ross Hayley Episode: “Hooray for Homicide” (S 1:Ep 4)
    Night Court Kenny Episode:”Inside Harry Stone” (S 2:Ep 9)
    Simon & Simon Uncle Ray Simon Episode: “Revolution #9 1/2” (S 4:Ep 12)
    1985–86 Mary Ed LaSalle Main role
    1985 Riptide Baxter Bernard Episode: “Baxter and Boz” (S 2:Ep 13)
    Otherworld Akin Episode: “Mansion of the Beast” (S 1:Ep 7)
    Murder, She Wrote Harry Pierce Episodes:
    “Joshua Peabody Died Here… Possibly” (S 2:Ep 2)
    “A Lady in the Lake” (S 2:Ep 7)
    “Sticks and Stones” (S 2:Ep 10)
    1986 Mr. Boogedy Neil Witherspoon Television film
    1986–90 Night Court Former Mental Patient Buddy Ryan Recurring role
    1987 St. Elsewhere Kevin Episode: “Visiting Daze” (S 5:Ep 14)
    The Charmings Jack/The Devil Episode: “The Witch is of Van Oaks” (S 2:Ep 3)
    Webster Uncle Charles Episode: “Simple Gifts” (S 5:Ep 12)
    1988 Charles in Charge Uncle Joe Episode: “Pickle King of New York” (S 3:Ep 14)
    Webster Uncle Charles Episode: “Rich Man, Poor Man” (S 6:Ep 13)
    1989 The Saint: The Blue Dulac George Lafosse Television filme
    1990 Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Dr. Putrid T. Gangreen Main role
    1991 Eerie Indiana Radford Recurring role
    Taz-Mania Bull Gator Recurring role
    Father Dowling Mysteries Manager of Gun Club Episode: “The Priest Killer Mystery” (S 3:Ep 16)
    They Came from Outer Space Neville Nessen Episode: “Sex, Lies and UFOs, part 2” (S 1:Ep 20)
    Tales from the Crypt Nelson Halliwell Episode: “Top Billing” (S 3:Ep 5)
    1992–93 The Addams Family Gomez Addams Main role
    Animated series based on the eponymous comic strip characters.
    Voice
    The series’ development began in the wake of the successful 1991 Addams Family feature film.
    It was the second-to-last Hanna-Barbera-produced show to premiere on ABC.
    1993 The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. Professor Wickwire 7 episodes
    1994–97 Duckman Terry Duke Tetzloff Recurring role
    1994 Bonkers The Mole Episode: “Stressed to Kill” (S 3:Ep23)
    Burke’s Law Alexander Episode: “Who Killed Alexander the Great?” (S 1:Ep 6)
    Mad About You Himself Episode: “Up All Night” (S 2:Ep 23)
    Step by Step George Humphries Episode: “The Ice Cream Man Cometh”
    1995 The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat Additional Voices Recurring role
    Murder, She Wrote Fritz Randall Episode: “Film Flam” (S 11:Ep 6)
    Step by Step George Humphries Episode: “The Flight Before Christmas”(S 5:Ep 11)
    1996 The Nanny Dr. Roberts Episodes:
    “Your Feets Too Big” (S 3:Ep 20)
    “Tattoo” (S 4:Ep 9)
    1997 Homeboys in Outer Space Rhymer Episode: “The Adventures of Ratman and Gerbil or, Holy Homeboys in Outer Space” (S 1:Ep 21)
    Johnny Bravo Scientist 1/Blind Man Episode: “Jumbo Johnny / The Perfect Gift / Bravo, James Bravo” (S 1:Ep 10)
    Pinky and the Brain Grover Whalen Episode: “Mice Don’t Dance” (S 3:Ep 11)
    1998 The New Addams Family Grampapa Addams Episode: “Grandpapa Addams Comes to Visit” (S 1:Ep 16)
    Recess Supt. Skinner Episode: “Kids in the Mist” (S 1:Ep 12)
    1999 Recess The Judge Episode: “The Story of Whomps” (S 2:Ep 11)
    The Hughleys Guest star Episode: “Storm o’ the Century” (S 1:Ep 17)
    The New Addams Family Grampapa Addams Episode: “Fester and Granny vs. Grandpapa Addams” (S 1:Ep 40)
    The Wild Thornberrys Bangaboo Episode: “The Great Bangaboo” (S 1:Ep 17)
    Recess Supt. Skinner Episodes:
    “The Spy Who Came in from the Playground” (S 4:Ep4)
    “Prickly is Leaving” (S 4:Ep 11)
    2000 The Strip Orson Bates Episode: “I Wear My Sunglasses At Night” (S 1:Ep 9)
    Becker Richard Wilson Episode: “All the Rage” (S 2:Ep 15)
    2001 As Told By Ginger Dave Bishop Episodes:
    “Blizzard Conditions” (S 1:Ep 14)
    “Piece of My Heart” (S 2:Ep 3)
    2004 Higglytown Heroes Santa Claus Episode: “Twinkle’s Wish” (S 1:Ep 12)
    2005 School of Life Stormin’ Norman Warner Television film
    2006 My First Time Himself Episode: “Something About Mary” (S 1:Ep 1)
    2007 Higglytown Heroes Santa Claus Episode: “‘Tis the Season to Be Ducky / Bingo Bongos” (S 3:Ep 18)
    2017 Justice League Action Uncle Dudley Episode: “Captain Bamboozle” (S 1:Ep 49)

  • Main role
  • The show was based on the novel House Party (1954) by Patrick Dennis.
  • It was ABC’s futile attempt to turn female stand-up comic Phyllis Diller into a sitcom comedian in the style of Lucille Ball.
  • “Batman’s Anniversary”
  • “A Riddling Controversy”
  • “The Night of the Wizard” (S 2:Ep 1)
  • “Cop of the Year” (S 2:Ep 3)
  • “Two Dollars on Trouble to Win” (S 2:Ep 7)
  • “Joshua Peabody Died Here… Possibly” (S 2:Ep 2)
  • “A Lady in the Lake” (S 2:Ep 7)
  • “Sticks and Stones” (S 2:Ep 10)
  • Main role
  • Animated series based on the eponymous comic strip characters.
  • Voice
  • The series’ development began in the wake of the successful 1991 Addams Family feature film.
  • It was the second-to-last Hanna-Barbera-produced show to premiere on ABC.
  • “Your Feets Too Big” (S 3:Ep 20)
  • “Tattoo” (S 4:Ep 9)
  • “The Spy Who Came in from the Playground” (S 4:Ep4)
  • “Prickly is Leaving” (S 4:Ep 11)
  • “Blizzard Conditions” (S 1:Ep 14)
  • “Piece of My Heart” (S 2:Ep 3)
  • External Links

    Actor John Astin – Wikipedia

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