John Astin, From The Addams Family, Recites “The Raven” as Edgar Allan Poe

How fitting that the head of The Addams Family would harbor a lifelong obsession with author Edgar Allan Poe.

In the spirit of full disclosure, we should clarify that the true Poe fanboy is not the fictional Gomez Addams, but rather the first actor to bring the character to life, John Astin, of television fame.

Astin’s introduction to the Master of the Macabre came as a child, when his mother retold him the story of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” following it up with a copy of “The Purloined Letter.”

His fascination with those tales fomented a ravenous (sorry) appetite for all things Poe.

As Astin told the Baltimore Sun:

His discoveries about human nature were so right, and so accurate, that it’s almost a wonder to read, or reread. There are continually discoveries, in the reading of Poe, about humankind.

Now the director of Johns Hopkins’ Undergraduate Program in Theatre Arts and Studies, Astin collaborated with writers Ron Magid and Paul Day Clemens on Edgar Allan Poe – Once Upon a Midnight, a one-man show that toured extensively throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. In addition to getting across a passel of grim biographical details, the playwrights tasked Astin’s Poe with an unabridged recitation of his best known poem, “The Raven,” above.

Philip Brandes, reviewing a performance in the Los Angeles Times wrote:

Reciting “The Raven” in its entirety, Astin cannot afford to milk each line for atmosphere à la Vincent Price; it would take him most of the second act.

Instead, he races through the poem as an author would in recalling his own familiar words, gradually getting caught up in their power and finishing on a dramatic crescendo.

Powerful stuff. Nevermore!

Related Content:

The Great Stan Lee Reads Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”

5 Hours of Edgar Allan Poe Stories Read by Vincent Price & Basil Rathbone

Gustave Doré’s Splendid Illustrations of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” (1884)

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday

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