Astin, 83, was born in Baltimore and still lives there. Besides acting, he teaches at John Hopkins University.
“I would have gone into a career in science of math, if I hadn’t been in love with the theater,” he said. He spent about a decade, starting in the 1950’s, working in New York City theater. His big break came when he was performing in “Major Barbara,” where he came to the attention of the actor Tony Randall. He cast Astin in a summer play that led to signing with his agent. His work as a guest star on television caught the eye of casting directors and and led to a role in such movies as “West Side Story” and “Touch of Mink.” He enjoyed working with such stars as Cary Grant and Doris Day on the latter. They were people he admired watching on the screen, so it was exciting, he said.
Some “wonderful” notices led to a starring roles on television, first in “I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster” in 1962-63 and then “The Addams Family.”
Playing Gomez was as much fun as it looked like to audiences, he said. He was told by a family member, “it was the perfect extension of my inner self,” and said “I feel fortunate I was able to work with the cast of that show.”