The Baltimore native portrayed Gomez Addams on The Addams Family.
John Astin is somewhat of a Hollywood legend. First appearing in the musical West Side Story, he charmed audiences as Gomez Addams on the famous sitcom The Addams Family and has built an impressive resume of beloved TV shows and films. He's also the stepfather to Sean Astin of Lord of the Rings, which is a pretty cool family lineage if you ask us! Did you know he's a native Marylander? Read on for more below!
Born on March 30, 1930, in Baltimore, Astin was raised by parents Margaret and Allen. He grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, while his father worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. At Washington & Jefferson College, he studied math before transferring to Johns Hopkins University to study theater. He got his degree in 1952. His younger brother Alexander Astin is a distinguished UCLA professor.
Originally beginning in commercials, Astin's first break came with a minor part in West Side Story; the 1961 musical would win the Oscars' coveted Best Picture award. He appeared on a slew of popular sitcoms including Dennis the Menace and the single-season I'm Dickens, He's Fenster. In 1964, he was cast as Gomez Addams on The Addams Family. His role as the macabre family's loving patriarch would last two seasons and produce a pop-culture phenomenon that's since lead to countless remakes over the years.
Astin on The Addams Family, courtesy of IMDb
Astin's film credits span decades and many beloved films, like the original Freaky Friday starring Jodie Foster (1976), National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985), and Peter Jackson's The Frighteners (1996). He's also shown up in the kitschy Killer Tomatoes trilogy and Gremlins 2: A New Batch (1990). He's had famous cameos on TV shows including Murder, She Wrote as a nefarious real estate agent, and HBO's Tales from the Crypt. His voice acting career is immense, most notably a cheeky return as Gomez on the 1992 animated reboot of The Addams Family. Staying true to his spooky roots, he's also a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe and even portrayed him in a one-man show titled Edgar Allan Poe: Once Upon a Midnight.
While Astin continues to pop up in film and television, his career's also taken an academic turn. He started teaching as a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins before securing a permanent position as director of the Theater Arts and Studies Department. Along with teaching classes, he directs stage productions and is credited with creating the school's first theater minor program for undergraduate students. He's served on the Writer's Guild of America board of directors as well as the D.C. nonprofit Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts.
Astin has married three times and has five children, including the actor Sean Astin, whom he adopted during his marriage to actress Patty Duke. Today at 90, he lives in Baltimore with his wife Valerie Ann Sandobal.
What are your favorite John Astin movies? Share your picks with us in the comments!