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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Astin’s film and television roles include:
|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|
|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.|
|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.|
|2006||What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole||Dr. Quantum||Voice|
|2015||Starship II: Rendezvous with Ramses||Professor Peabody|
|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.
“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.
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)|
“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)|