Who is John Astin?
American actor and movie director John Allen Astin was born in Baltimore, Maryland USA, on 30 March 1930 under the zodiac sign of Aries. He’s appeared in over 150 movies and TV series, while he’s perhaps still best known for his playing of The Judge in the 1996 fantasy horror comedy movie “The Frighteners”, written and directed by Peter Jackson, and which starred Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado and Peter Dobson. It follows a man who became able to speak to the dead following the death of his wife, and is now the only man capable of stopping a demon from killing all the people and the ghosts; the movie won three of its 20 award nominations.
John’s been semi-retired from acting for over two decades now, and is today leading a peaceful life with his third wife in Baltimore, away from the media’s attention.
Education and early life
John’s father Dr. Allen Varley Astin and mother Margaret Linnie (nee Mackenzie) raised him in Baltimore, alongside his brother Alexander; Margaret was a housewife, while Dr. Allen was the director of the National Bureau of Standards.
John was still a teenager when he became interested in acting, and was attending a local high school, where he was a member of its drama club, and played both lead and supporting characters in over 10 school plays.
He matriculated in 1948, and enrolled at Washington & Jefferson College, as his parents urged him to pursue a college degree; John studied mathematics, but switched to Johns Hopkins University after only a single semester, wanting to study drama. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 1952, and worked a couple of jobs during the following five years, prior to launching a career in the film industry.
Roles in TV series
John’s debut TV series appearance was in the 1957 episode “The Night America Trembled” of the drama “Studio One”, and the year 1960 saw him appear in an episode of three series: the western comedy “Maverick”, the comedy drama “General Electric Theater”, and the comedy “Peter Loves Mary”.
He gained recognition in 1962 and ‘63, when cast to play Harry Dickens in the comedy “I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster”, created by Leonard Stern, and in which John starred alongside Marty Ingels and Emmaline Henry. It follows the lives of best friends Harry Dickens and Arch Fenster, and the series was nominated for a 1964 Writers Guild of America Award for Comedy/Variety, Any Length.
What also marked the ‘60s for John was his playing of the lead character Gomez Addams in the evergreen family horror comedy “The Addams Family”, which David Levy created, and which also starred Jackie Coogan and Carolyn Jones. It follows the lives of members of a strange but loving family, aired from 1964 to 1966, and won one of its four award nominations. A couple of John’s roles in the remainder of the ‘60s were in the action adventure western “The Wild Wild West”, the action adventure comedy “Batman”, and the comedy “The Phyllis Diller Show”.
In 1972 and 1973, John played Sykes in the mystery crime drama “McMillan & Wife”, created by Leonard Stern, and which starred Rock Hudson, John Schuck and Susan Saint James. It follows the lives of police commissioner Stewart ‘Mac’ McMillan and his detective wife, and the series won three of its 27 award nominations. Between 1971 and 1978, John played five characters in five episodes of the drama “Insight”, and concurrently in 1977 and ‘78, he starred as Lieutenant Commander Matthew Sherman in the war comedy “Operation Petticoat”.
The year 1985 saw John play Ed LaSalle in the popular comedy “Mary”, created by David Isaacs and Ken Levine, and in which John starred alongside Mary Tyler Moore and James Farentino; it follows an author who’s begun writing the column “Helpline” for the magazine “The Chicago Eagle”. Between 1984 and 1990, he played Buddy Ryan in 11 episodes of the popular comedy “Night Court”, which won 19 of its 53 award nominations.
Some of John’s most notable performances in the ‘90s were in the 1994 mystery crime drama “Murder, She Wrote”, the 1996 romantic family comedy “The Nanny”, and the 1999 family horror comedy “The New Addams Family”.
He’s since been semi-retired, and has played and voiced characters in only a couple of TV series and movies, with his three most recent roles in TV series having been in the 2001 episode “The Even Steven Holiday Special” of the animated comedy drama “As Told by Ginger”, the 2004 episode “Twinkle’s Wish” of the animated family drama “Higglytown Heroes”, and the 2018 episode “Captain Bamboozle” of the animated adventure “Justice League Action”, all voice roles.
Roles in movies
John’s debut film appearance was in the 1958 short comedy “The Kiss”, while a couple of his following roles were in the 1960 crime drama “The Pusher”, the evergreen 1961 musical drama “West Side Story” which won 10 Oscars, including for Best Picture, Best Director (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (George Chakiris), and the 1962 romantic comedy “That Touch of Mink”.
In 1963, John portrayed Hector Vanson in the comedy “The Wheeler Dealers”, directed by Arthur Hiller, and which starred Lee Remick, James Garner and Phil Harris. It follows a wheeler dealer from Texas who’s gone broke, and now has to go to New York City and raise over $1 million; the movie was nominated for two awards. A couple of John’s other notable roles in the ‘60s were in the 1967 horror comedy “The Spirit Is Willing”, the 1967 western comedy “Sheriff Who”, and the 1968 adventure fantasy comedy “Candy”.
The year 1973 saw John portray the lead character Michael O’Toole in the western comedy “The Brothers O’Toole”, directed by Richard Erdman, and which also starred Pat Carroll and Hans Conried. It follows the O’Toole brothers as they’re searching for gold in a small mining town. John could then have been seen playing Many Wheeler in the 1975 musical drama “The Dream Makers”, Phillip Logan in the 1976 comedy “Phillip and Barbara” and Gomez Addams in the 1977 horror comedy “Halloween with the New Addams Family”.
John Astin and Carolyn Jones as Gomez and Morticia Addams in the TV series 'The Addams Family' (1964 – 1966)
His following movie role came in 1985, when cast to play Pig in a Poke Host – Kent in the popular adventure comedy “National Lampoon’s European Vacation”, which Amy Heckerling directed, and which starred Dana Hill, Beverly D’Angelo and Chevy Chase. It follows the Griswold family as they’re vacationing in Europe, and the movie won one of its two award nominations. John appeared in a couple of movies in the remainder of the ‘80s, such as the 1986 musical sports comedy “Body Slam”, the 1987 fantasy comedy “Teen Wolf Too”, and the 1988 science fiction horror comedy “Return of the Killer Tomatoes!”
What marked the ‘90s for him was perhaps his playing of The Ranger in the 1994 thriller comedy “The Silence of the Hams”, written and directed by Ezio Greggio, who also starred in it alongside Dom DeLuise and Billy Zane. It follows federal agent Jo Dee Fostar as he’s trying to catch a serial killer.
John has since appeared in only a couple of movies, with three of his most recent roles having been in the 1995 science fiction “Harrison Bergeron”, the 2001 family fantasy science fiction “Betaville”, and the 2005 family comedy drama “School of Life”.
John has a single writing and producing credit, and 17 directing credits. He wrote, produced and directed the 1968 short movie “Prelude”, while some of his most notable directing works were the 1978 comedy film “Fix-it City”, the 1982 comedy movie “Two Guys from Muck”, and the 1988 documentary horror film “Night Creatures”.
He’s been featured in numerous documentary series, most recently in the 2011 “America in Primetime”, the 2014 “Great Performances”, and the 2017 “F. S. Key After the Song”.
John’s made a guest appearance in the talk-shows “Good Morning America”, “ABC World News Tonight with David Muir”, and “DCPS Crushing the Game”, amongst others.
Awards and nominations
John’s been nominated for three awards, including an Oscar in 1969 for Best Short Subject, Live Action Subjects for his work on “Prelude”.
He was also nominated for a 1992 CableACE Award for Actor in a Dramatic Series, for “Tales from the Crypt”, and a 1993 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series, for “The Addams Family”.
Love life and spouse
John’s married thrice. He married his first wife, American actress Suzanne Hahn on 26 March 1956; Suzanne has only a single credit to her name, playing Female Necker in the 1958 short comedy movie “The Kiss”. Suzanne gave birth to their twin sons David and Allen J. on 23 March 1961, and their third son Thomas E. Astin was born on 19 March 1965; John and Suzanne divorced on 14 June 1972.
He exchanged vows with his second wife, American actress, screenwriter and producer Patty Duke on 5 August 1972, in a large ceremony attended by more than 200 of their friends and family members. Patty’s appeared in nearly 150 movies and TV series, and won a 1963 Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in the 1962 biographical movie “The Miracle Worker”. Patty gave birth to their son Mackenzie on 12 May 1973, while John also adopted Patty’s son Sean Patrick Duke from her former marriage to music promoter Michael Tell; John and Patty divorced on 3 November 1985.
Since 19 March 1989, John’s been married to non-celebrity American Valerie Ann Sandobal, and they are leading a peaceful life together in Baltimore, as of October 2022.
Interesting facts and hobbies
John’s a Nichiren Buddhist, and is a member of Soka Gakkai International.
He has six grandchildren.
John, his adoptive son Sean and Sean’s daughter Ali Astin have all worked with famous movie director Peter Jackson: John appeared in his movie “The Frighteners”, Sean in the film trilogy “Lord of the Rings” and Ali in “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”. They have also worked with British actor and producer Christopher Lee.
John occasionally teaches theatre at Johns Hopkins University.
He’s a huge fan of the late American author Edgar Allan Poe.
John revealed while giving a speech at Booker High School that he didn’t and wouldn’t watch any of the new Addams Family movies, but didn’t explain why.
Height, eyes and net worth
John’s age is 92. His hair’s short and gray, his eyes are blue and his height’s 5ft 11ins (1.8m); his weight is 170lbs (78kgs).
John’s net worth’s been estimated at over $6 million, as of October 2022.