ABC News’ John Donvan reports:
On “The Addams Family,” which turned the spooky into smiles, John Astin played Gomez Addams, the monster of ceremonies.
“I guess nobody else has a head shaped like mine,” Astin said recently. “So, I get recognized quite often.”
Now, 46 years later, Astin is an acting teacher at his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
From 1964 to 1966, the television series ran for 64 episodes, according to IMDB.com, with Astin’s character as the kooky patriarch of a family that was weird and creepy, but loving.
“Bizarre as we appeared to be,” Astin said, “psychiatrists who wrote about the show thought we were the healthiest family on the air. And the amorous relationship between Gomez and [wife] Morticia was one of the unusual aspects of that.”
“While we may have seemed foreboding on the outside, we were really, underneath, very good, caring people,” he said.
Astin became good friends with Carolyn Jones, the actress who played Morticia Addams, and he delivered the eulogy at her funeral in 1983.
While much of the cast remained close, Astin now only gets to see them in reruns.
“It actually is fun to see it every once in awhile, now,” he said. “Most of the adult members on the show have passed away. But [the show is] a great reminder of them.”
Astin was a stage actor whose first film role was a tiny part in “West Side Story.” After “The Addams Family,” he kept working in television and then as a director. A short that he made, “Prelude,” received a 1969 Oscar nomination.
“One thing I say to the students is, ‘Each one of you has greatness within. Don’t neglect it. Nourish it. Feed it. Work with it. And if you do that, you will see it come out. It will be there. It is there and it will come out,’” he said.