John Astin was initially afraid he couldn't do justice to Gomez Addams

"There was no one I wanted for the part of Gomez other than Astin," said series creator David Levy.

Even though The Addams Family only lasted for two seasons in the mid-Sixties, Gomez Addams remains one of the most memorable TV characters of all time because actor John Astin refused to play him as a cliché.

When the "kooky" TV show based on the popular one-panel cartoon first hit airwaves in 1964, a reviewer for The Ventura County Star-Free Press expressed pitch-perfectly what everyone who tuned in saw in Astin as the show's star: "to see him sporting a mustache and grinning slyly with a long cigar in a corner of his mouth, and looking passionately at his wife as though spoofing every bad Latin movie lover with flashing eyes, is a show in itself."

For Astin, reviews like that must've been a huge relief, because when he initially got cast as Gomez, he was scared he'd never live up the role.

"I was skeptical at first about taking on this series because I wasn’t too sure whether I could do justice to Charles Addams's cartoons," Astin told The Baltimore Sun in 1964. "I didn't want the characters to come off like ghouls or monsters. Addams's cartoons are almost indescribable – except to say 'It's Addams.' They imply violence, yet they're not violent. They somehow permit a person to release aggressive feelings without feeling guilty."

To create the TV version of Gomez Addams, Astin said was a particular challenge because, "All we had to start with was a physical idea, which I couldn't follow at all … because I didn't resemble the Addams characters."

The only way Astin resembled the Addams Family father (remember — "Gomez" did not have a name until the TV show) was in the distinctive mustache the actor was already sporting before he got cast. Perhaps that perfect mustache was what sealed the deal for series creator David Levy, who told The Sun, "There was no one I wanted for the part of Gomez other than Astin."

To further develop the role, Astin decided it would take more than a mustache. He looked deep into his own childhood, growing up in a "big old house, not unlike the Addams Family's."

He remembered when he first started getting interested in being an entertainer, he would perform magic tricks in the "dark corners of his big old basement." He said tapping into those memories helped him step into Gomez's very particular shoes, ready to sashay or swordfight at the drop of a hat.

"I've tried to capture in Gomez the spirit of the cartoons which makes him a nonconformist," Astin told The Tribune in 1964. "The only thing Gomez is afraid of is the cliché."

By rejecting portraying Gomez as a cliché, Astin, of course, become quite iconic, and the first year the show was being produced, The Selma Times-Journal reported that practically the whole crew had styled their faces to sport Gomez mustaches.

Sometimes Astin would get so lost playing the character that he would actually burn his fingers on Gomez's signature cigar. If you watch "The Addams Family Tree," in the early scene when Gomez helps Pugsley wrap a present, he burns a finger on his cigar. You can spot rare moments where the actor breaks character to peek at his sooted fingertips.

Astin doesn't break character when a cigar burns his hand in ''The Addams Family Tree''.

Astin's stylish portrayal of Gomez sparked a craze that reignites every Halloween as costumed fans continue doing their best impressions, decades later. There was one moment in the interview with The Tribune where Astin's personal beliefs about how actors should act seemed to show a side of him that rivaled the passion that we more commonly associate with Gomez. And that passion perfectly sums up why Astin was just perfect for the part, despite initially fearing he'd be inadequate.

"If you're playing a death scene, you must die with life," Astin explained. "Even negative ideas must be played positively. All the best actors have been able to do that."

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vinman63 36 months ago
Gomez always had a change of clothing.
Kovacs 37 months ago
If Ernie Kovacs had been alive when the show was cast, I wonder how he would have done in the role. He had the right look
cperrynaples Kovacs 37 months ago
I've heard that at one point, TAF was going to star Kovacs as Gomez and his wife Edie Adams as Morticia! That idea ended with Ernie's death in a car crash, but there is still a Kovacs connection: TAF was sponsored by Dutch Masters, Ernie's cigar of choice!
JHP 37 months ago
off topic

Bring BACK CAR 54 where are you:)
JHP 37 months ago
Mr Astin went above and beyond the character of Gomez
jimmyvici 37 months ago
There’s no one else that could have mastered Gomez like Astin. He was absolutely perfect. Role of his life.
Corey 37 months ago
Both John Astin and Carolyn Jones played Batman villains: The Riddler and Marsha Queen of Diamonds.
justjeff 37 months ago
My first introduction to John Astin was on the short-lived sitcom he did with Marty Ingles and Frank DeVol entitled "I'm Dickens...He's Fenster". Of course, I loved him as Buddy, the judge's (recently released from a mental institution) father on "Night Court". His tag line was "I'm feeling much better now..."

His appearance in West Side Story is so short that if you blink, you'll miss it. However, don't look for him as resembling Gomez in that picture. His hair is combed back in a traditional early-1960s haircut and he's clean shaven... he's also wearing a drab brown suit.

While he was married to Patty Duke, they often appeared on the game show "Tattle Tales" (hosted by Bert Convy).

Astin is currently 91 years old.
dori 37 months ago
Thank you for adding the Addams family
Michael 37 months ago
John Astin is in West Side Story, trying to get the kuds to dance at the dance.

And Patty Duke was married to him for about 13 years, thiugh apparently he didn't father Sean.
cperrynaples Michael 37 months ago
Yes, Sean's father was Patty's previous husband, but Sean didn't know it until he was a teenager! John is the father of MacKenzie, best known for Facts of Life!
LoveMETV22 37 months ago
Undoubtedly one of his most prominent roles. I always think Gomez whenever I see him on anything else.
Dario LoveMETV22 37 months ago
Most everyone does, Love. 😀
Stoney 37 months ago
John Astin was the perfect Gomez!

He also played the Riddler in one two-part Batman episode. He actually would have made a really good Batman villain if they had given him his own character and not tried to make him fill Frank Gorshin's shoes (which nobody else could have done, either).
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Stoney 37 months ago
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madvincent 37 months ago
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Stoney 37 months ago
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True, but it was in the comedy catagory, which may or may not be an insult to the show!
cperrynaples 37 months ago
It's true: John Astin IS Gomez and it'll proably be on his tombstone! So great to see the show again!
sputnik_57 cperrynaples 37 months ago
Ha ha! so true, he nailed it...he wasn't very convincing when he appeared on Westerns, etc. It was like "oh, so Gomez does Westerns also..." lol!
cperrynaples sputnik_57 37 months ago
Yep, when I saw Evil Roy Slade, I couldn't escape that it was Gomez in the old West!
denny cperrynaples 37 months ago
Loved Evil Roy Slade when I saw it as a kid, when he took the shaw off the woman to cover the mud hole so he didn't get mud on his boots. Watched a few years ago, some funny parts but doesn't hold up very well.
Kovacs denny 37 months ago
I agree. Thought it was great as a kid, but was surprised that it was not as good when I watched it many years later as an adult.
cperrynaples 37 months ago
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Good, but not quite a proper epitaph!
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