Actor John Astin relishes Apple Blossom experience

By Brad Fauber

WINCHESTER — A twinkle comes to John Astin’s eye when asked about the coronation of his granddaughter, Alexandra “Ali” Astin, as Queen Shenandoah LXXVII of this year’s Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.

“If you ever experience your granddaughter being made Apple Blossom Queen, it’s going to do something for you,” said John Astin, his face beaming as he mentions the 17-year-old daughter of his adopted son, fellow actor Sean Astin. “I’m excited about that and it was a big thrill to come down here.”

John Astin, perhaps best known for his role as Gomez Addams in the popular sitcom “The Addams Family,” which aired from 1964 to 1966, traveled south from Baltimore this weekend to take part in the annual festivities that overtake Winchester during Apple Blossom each spring.

As he shared time with reporters on Friday afternoon, the 84-year-old actor touched on a variety of topics about his personal life and his experiences at the Apple Blossom Festival. Astin lauded the beauty of the queen’s coronation ceremony, which took place on Friday morning. He spoke of his son Sean’s successful acting career, as well as John Astin’s other four sons.

John Astin, who also made notable appearances in shows such as “Dennis the Menace,” “The Donna Reed Show” and “Murder, She Wrote,” even shared what made sitcoms of the 1960s stand apart from other shows.

“I think by and large it was the writing and the fact that there was generally a consideration for the actor,” Astin said. “That may sound like a contradiction, but it isn’t. They would often write to the actor in the ’60s, but along about the ’70s they started writing a lot of these group shows. And they started rewriting and polishing them all week — it was more difficult for the actors to get going.”

John Astin, who currently teaches method acting and directing at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, also provided an explanation as to why The Addams Family still remains largely relevant today.

He credited the show’s producer, Nat Perrin, and executive producer Dave Levy, who “really understood what he wanted in the show,” as two of the biggest reasons the show remains recognizable.

“With that going for us, I’m not surprised that it lasts,” Astin said, referring to the work of Perrin and Levy. “It had substance and quality. It was a sense of collaboration and fun, among all of us. And the fact that we all liked one another, that was good. We became close friends after the show and until people died. I have, obviously, no regrets.”

Although his sitcom acting days are well behind him, Astin still showed the ability to induce laugher to an audience when he was asked to name the high-water mark of his career.

“My greatest accomplishment? Getting up in the morning,” he said with a grin.

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com