9 all together ooky facts about John Astin

He's the lesser-known Riddler on Batman.

Image: 20th Television

You may know him best as Gomez Addams on the 1960s gothic sitcom The Addams Family. Or perhaps you know him as the ex-husband of television star Patty Duke.

But throughout his illustrious career and storied time in Hollywood, John Astin has had pivotal roles spanning television and film. 

To honor Astin on his 88th birthday, here are nine not-so-spooky facts about the actor.

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1. He was on 'The Pruitts of Southampton.'


It's been called one of the worst shows of all time. When The Pruitts of Southampton was retooled as The Phyllis Diller Show halfway through season one, John Astin joined the cast as Rudy Pruitt.

Image: MGM Television

2. He was also on 'Mary.'


Astin was a part of another notorious flop in the mid 1980s, Mary Tyler Moore's follow-up sitcom Mary. Only thirteen episodes aired, and the series was canceled after one season.

Image: 20th Television

3. He was nominated for an Oscar…


…but it wasn't for acting. Astin directed the 1968 short film Prelude. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. 

Image: MGM Television

4. He appeared in 'West Side Story.'


The 1961 musical blockbuster starred box office heavyweights like Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno, but it also featured an uncredited appearance by Astin. The actor appeared as the character Glad Hand, the social worker who kicks off the "Mambo" dance sequence in the gymnasium.

Image: United Artists

5. He appeared as The Riddler on 'Batman.'


Most people associate the devious villain with Frank Gorshin. But Astin also put on the green tights and purple mask in the season two episodes "Batman's Anniversary" and "A Riddling Controversy."

6. He was originally supposed to play Lurch.


Astin's most famous role to date is the patriarch Gomez Addams on the 1960s series The Addams Family. But it turns out he was originally supposed to play Lurch, the towering servant. 

Image: MGM Television

7. His two children with Patty Duke are actors.


Astin and Duke's children together, Mackenzie and Sean, both went on to become actors. Mackenzie has recently appeared on shows like Scandal and Bones, while Sean (pictured) appeared in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Image: New Line

8. He gave the eulogy at Carolyn Jones' funeral.


Astin and his costar on The Addams Family were so close, Jones asked him to deliver the eulogy at her funeral when she found out she was terminally ill. Astin hesitated at first, but eventually honored her request when she passed away in 1983. 

Image: MGM Television

9. He's a Buddhist.


Yep, Astin practices Nichiren Buddhism!

Image: MGM Television

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FloridaTopCat 13 months ago
Don't forget, he was host of "Pig in a Poke" to open National Lampoon's European Vacation in 1985, and super-fire up the wayback machine, to 1962, "I'm Dickens, He's Fenster" with Marty Ingles!
DerekBird 32 months ago
You forgot the most important fact of all - The fact that as of today (November 28, 2021) he is still alive at age 91 (March 30, 1930), He has a younger brother who is 89 (May 30, 1932) and their father Allen Varley Astin (June 12, 1904 – January 28, 1984) was an American physicist who served as director of the United States National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) from 1951 until 1969. During the Second World War he worked on the proximity fuse. He was an advocate for introduction of metric weights and measures to the United States.
VBartilucci 32 months ago
"His two children with Patty Duke"


BuddyDuncan 63 months ago
You left out a mention of Astin's best role. Buddy on Night Court. He was a total riot.
LynCarceo BuddyDuncan 32 months ago
He's feeling much better now!
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