The Only Major Actor Still Alive From The 1960's Addams Family Series

Ah, "The Addams Family." They're creepy and they're kooky. Mysterious and spooky. They're all together ooky. And so on. The ghoulish Addamses were created by cartoonist Charles Addams in the pages of The New Yorker before Hollywood came calling, adapting Addams' comics into a TV series in 1964. The series followed a family of weirdos who live every day like it's Halloween, much to the confusion and horror of the normal folks all around them. 

The original "The Addams Family" series lasted only two seasons, running between 1964 and 1966, but its impact and influence have continued for decades. Re-runs kept the show alive, as did revivals, reboots, and feature films. It seems likely that everyone, no matter what their age, knows about "The Addams Family," because the show has become so ingrained into our popular culture. 

Sadly, the majority of the original cast of "The Addams Family" are no longer with us. But there's one main player who is still around. 

John Astin (Gomez Addams)

John Astin played Gomez Addams on the show. A wealthy former lawyer and frequent cigar smoker who is fond of standing on his head, Gomez is known for being extremely horny for his wife, Morticia. He's the patriarch of the Addams clan, which includes Morticia (Carolyn Jones), their children Wednesday (Lisa Loring, who died last year) and Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax), and of course, Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan) (side-note: in the popular "Addams Family" movies from the '90s, Fester is Gomez's brother, but in the original series, he's Morticia's uncle). The family also includes Lurch the butler (Ted Cassidy), Gomez's mother, Grandmama Addams (Blossom Rock) (she's Morticia's mother in the movies), and the disembodied hand Thing. 

Believe it or not, Astin is the only cast member still with us, outliving all of his co-stars, even the actors who played his children. He's 93 as of this writing and retired. A prominent TV actor, Astin began his career in the theater. His big movie break came from a small role in the film adaptation of "West Side Story," but it's "The Addams Family" he's best known for. 

"It was fun to do the show," Astin said of "The Addams Family." "Most people ask me about 'The Addams Family,' and it has dominated my professional life, really. But we just did two years ... and, you know, it's been on the air for more than 50 years following that! I regard it as good fortune, really. It's interesting. I'll get a class of freshmen — I'm retiring now, but I've been teaching for the last 20 years — and I'd get a bunch of 17- or 18-year-olds, and I'd mention ... oh, let's say Marlon Brando or Charles Laughton or Cary Grant. And they would not know who I was talking about. But they would all know what I did! [Laughs.] Which is a strange twist."

Other roles

Some of Astin's film roles include "Freaky Friday" (1976), "National Lampoon's European Vacation" (1985), and "The Frighteners" (1996). On the TV side, he briefly appeared as The Riddler on the famous pop-art-infused Adam West "Batman" series from the 1960s. "Batman came about because I got a call," the actor said. "I was at home, we had just finished 'The Addams Family,' and they said, "Do you want to do the Riddler for a couple of episodes?" And I said, "Sure!" You know, I always had a fantasy of running around in my underwear. [Laughs.] And that was a chance to realize it ... and get paid for it!"

Astin also returned to the role of Gomez twice — in animated form. He provided the voice of Gomez in a "Scooby-Doo" crossover episode that aired in 1972. Then, in 1992, he played the voice of Gomez once again in the animated series "The Addams Family," which ran for two seasons.

Astin has five sons and is the adoptive father of "Lord of the Rings" actor Sean Astin (Patty Duke, Sean Astin's mother, was one of John Astin's three wives). Astin's final credited role before retirement was providing a voice for the animated series "Justice League Action."