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

by | Permalink | Comments (7) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (7)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.