John Astin

John Astin

Born John Allen Astin
(1930-03-30) March 30, 1930
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Residence Baltimore, Maryland
Alma mater Washington & Jefferson College Johns Hopkins University
Years active 1957–present
Home town Baltimore, Maryland
Religion Nichiren Buddhism (Soka Gakkai International)[1]
Spouse(s) Suzanne Hahn (m. 1956–72)
Patty Duke (m. 1972–85)
Valerie Ann Sandobal (m. 1989)
Children 5 (1 adopted)

John Allen Astin (born March 30, 1930) is an American actor who has appeared in numerous films and television shows, as well as a television director and voice artist and is known for the role of Gomez Addams on The Addams Family, and having been married to actress Patty Duke.

Astin was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for his directorial debut, a comedic short film entitled 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).[2] 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 part in West Side Story in 1961.

During this period, his talent for also playing comedy was spotted by actor Tony Randall,[3] leading to guest starring roles on the situation comedies 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, he appeared in the final episode of the ABC police drama The Asphalt Jungle. In 1962–1963, Astin starred with Marty Ingels in the unusual ABC sitcom I'm Dickens, He's Fenster, which lasted for thirty-one episodes. From 1964 to 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 joined the retooled The Pruitts of Southampton (re-titled The Phyllis Diller Show) for the second half of the 1966–1967 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.)[4] He played submarine commander Matthew Sherman in the 1970s TV series Operation Petticoat. He also made a notable appearance in the 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 father 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, Duckman, and Homeboys in Outer Space.

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 both acting and directing in the Theater Arts and Studies 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.

Personal life

The handprints of John Astin in front of Hollywood Hills Amphitheater at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park

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 after their marriage) and one biological (Mackenzie). Astin is currently married to Valerie Ann Sandobal and lives in Baltimore. He practices Nichiren Buddhism as a member of the worldwide Buddhist association Soka Gakkai International.[5]

His younger brother, Alexander Astin, is a professor emeritus at UCLA.

He has six granddaughters: Alexandra, Elizabeth, Isabella, Sedona, Jaya, and Dov.


n.b. for credit listings reference[6]


Year Title Role Notes ref
1960 The Pusher Detective
1961 West Side Story Glad Hand, Social Worker Leading Dance
1962 That Touch of Mink Mr. Everett Beasley
1963 Move Over Darling Clyde Prokey
The Wheeler Dealers SEC official Released as Separate Beds in the UK [9]
1967 The Spirit Is Willing Dr. Frieden
1968 Candy Daddy / Uncle Jack
1969 Viva Max! Sergeant Valdez Comedy film
1971 Bunny O'Hare Ad
1972 Un secuestro de locura Star
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")
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
1990 Gremlins 2: The New Batch Janitor
  • American horror comedy film.
  • The sequel to Gremlins.
  • The film is a live action horror comedy film; however, Dante put effort into taking the sequel in new anarchic directions.
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
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. [19]
2006 What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Quantum Voice
2015 Starship II: Rendezvous with Ramses Professor Peabody


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 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 cast
1964–66 The Addams Family Gomez Addams Main cast
1967 The Pruitts of Southampton Rudy Pruitt
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)
1969 Bonanza Abner Willoughby Episode: "Abner Willoughby's return" (S 11:Ep 13)
1971 The Odd Couple Beau Buffingham Episode: "Oscar's New Life"
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)
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 Made-for-TV Movie
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 Made-for-TV Movie
1977–78 Operation Petticoat Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Sherman Main cast [21][22][23]
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" ( 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 cast
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 Made-for TV movie [24]
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)
1990 Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Dr. Putrid T. Gangreen Main cast
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
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 Guest Star 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 The Plastic Surgeon 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 Made-for-TV Movie
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)


  1. Davis, John. "Soka Gakkai Buddhist Retreat Center". SunSentinel. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  2. "John Astin Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved January 17, 2009.
  3. Lowry, Cynthia (October 30, 1962). "Actor John Astin Suddenly Finds He's A Siamese Twin". Ocala Star-Banner. p. 9. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
  4. "Batman". Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  5. Novak, Jessica (December 28, 2007). "Johns Hopkins? leading man". The Baltimore Examiner. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
  6. "John Astin : Credit Listings". Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  7. "West Side Story (AA)". British Board of Film Classification. January 12, 1962. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  8. Garner, James & Winokur, Jon The Garner Files: A Memoir Simon & Schuster; (November 1, 2011) Accessed May 23, 2015
  9. Variety film review; September 25, 1963, page 6 Accessed May 23, 2015.
  10. Ebert, Roger (December 26, 1968). "Review: Candy (1968)". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved March 23, 2010.
  11. "Candy (1968) Reviews". Retrieved March 23, 2010.
  12. Adler, Renata (December 18, 1968). "'Candy,' Compromises Galore:Film Faithful in Spirit to Satirical Novel". New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2010.
  13. "Bunny O'Hare". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  14. The Contract and the Cutting Room Floor The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959–1973) [Washington, D.C] 21 Aug 1971: E2
  15. DVD commentary (2002). Gremlins 2: The New Batch. Warner Home Video.
  16. "Il Silenzio dei prosciutti (The Silence of the Hams) (1994)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  17. "The Silence of the Hams". Time Out Film Guide website. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  18. Bignell, Darren. "Silence of the Hams". Empire Online. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  19. Pryor, Ian (2003). Peter Jackson: From Prince of Splatter to Lord of the Rings. New York City: Thomas Dunne Books. pp. 204–205. ISBN 0-312-32294-1.
  20. Diller, Phyllis; Buskin, Richard (2005). Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse: My Life in Comedy. New York: The Penguin Group. pp. 190–193. ISBN 1-58542-396-3.
  21. Brooks and Marsh 1995, p. 780. Accessed May 20, 2015
  22. "Operation Petticoat TV Show". Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  23. "Operation Petticoat (1977–1979)". Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  24. "Mr. Boogedy". The New York Times. Retrieved May 20, 2015.

External links

First actor Gomez Addams Actor
18 September 1964 – 30 October 1977
Succeeded by
Raul Julia
Preceded by
Frank Gorshin
The Riddler Actor
8 – 9 February 1967
Succeeded by
Frank Gorshin

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