Best Known for Gomez Addams on the "Addams Family"
Nearly 50 years after he walked the leafy grounds of Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus as a student, actor John Astin has returned to Baltimore to teach as a visiting professor at the university where he graduated in 1952.
"The marble steps in Gilman Hall are a little more worn, but they're the same steps," Astin said recently, after finishing with students in his Acting and Directing Workshop in the Writing Seminars. He has 50 students in three sections.
"These students are really showing me something," Astin said. "I'm inspired by them." To get a better sense of how Astin is teaching, check out the video at www.jhu.edu/news_info/news/audio-video/astin2.html.
Through intensive scene work, Astin has been pushing his students to open up emotionally and strive for performances that are natural. He's had them study a number of plays and several texts. Some of the students are preparing to perform several plays written by other Johns Hopkins students.
Those performances will be next week in the new black box theater of the Mattin Center, a student arts and activities center. The performances are free and open to the public. For information, call 410-516-7160.
While he is only scheduled to teach this semester, Astin said he would like to return, perhaps as soon as next spring, to teach another course at Hopkins.
Astin is, of course, best known as Gomez Addams, the lovable, slightly crazed patriarch of the original Addams Family television series, the myriad repeats of which have led to the frequent reference to Astin as a "pop-culture icon." Gomez remains one of his favorite TV characterizations, along with Buddy Ryan in Night Court and the title role in Evil Roy Slade.
Among Mr. Astin's films are West Side Story, That Touch of Mink with Doris Day and Cary Grant, The Wheeler Dealers, Move Over Darling, Candy, Viva Max, Pepper, Get to Know Your 1Huck and the King of Hearts, Peter Jackson's The Frighteners, and Betaville.
Astin received an Academy Award nomination for Prelude, a short film 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 as the cartoon voice of Gomez on ABC-TV's animated The Addams Family. His voice is popular on radio and in animation series. He served for four years on the board of directors of the Writers Guild of America West, and is active in community affairs in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, Calif.
He was born in Baltimore and grew up in Washington, D.C. After he graduated from Hopkins, he did graduate work in English literature at the University of Minnesota. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Valerie. He has five sons and a 4-year-old granddaughter.
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