The Facts of Life
“There was a period when I became disillusioned with the politics of what goes on in show business. My mom had missed a lot of her childhood, so I figured it would be a good time to hang up my acting shoes. I was probably reading too much J.D. Salinger at the time.” Mackenzie Astin
Award winning actor MacKenzie Astin, the son of actor/director/writer John Astin and actress Patty Duke and younger brother of actor Sean Astin, achieved television success at age 12 in the popular sitcom “The Facts of Life” (1985-1988), from which he took home a Young Artist Award. Since then, he has acted in several TV films, including “A Child Lost Forever” (1992), “The Long Island Incident” (1998) and “Selma, Lord, Selma” (1999) and in such movies as “Iron Will” (1994), “The Evening Star” (1996), “In Love and War” (1996), “The Last Days of Disco” (1998) and “The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human” (1999). His more recent projects include “Stranger Than Fiction” (2000), “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” (2001, TV), “How to Deal” (2003), “Off the Lip” (2004), “Love's Enduring Promise” (2004, TV), “In from the Night” (2006, TV) and “The Final Season” (2007). He also appeared in an episode of the series “Psych” in 2009.
Outside acting, Astin enjoys basketball and hanging out with friends. He also enjoys spending time with his family. An avid Dodgers fan, he frequently plays baseball with his brother, Sean, in Hollywood Stars Celebrity softball games at Dodger field. Astin cites Kurt Vonnegut and J.D. Salinger as his favorite authors.
Childhood and Family:
Mackenzie Alexander Astin was born on May 12, 1973, in Los Angeles, California, to celebrity parents John Astin and Patty Duke. His parents divorced in 1985 after having been together for 13 years. At the time, Mackenzie was 12 and his older brother Sean (also an actor) was 14. Sean was a product of Duke's previous marriage to Michael Tell (together from June 26 to July 9, 1970) before the marriage was annulled. Mackenzie also has three more half-brothers, David, Allen and Thomas, from his dad's first marriage, and a younger half-brother named Kevin Michael Pearce from his mom's next marriage to Michael Pearce.
Mack, as he is known by family and close friends, was educated at Ralph Waldo Emerson Middle School and University High School in Los Angeles, California. In 1990, he attended Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, in which he majored in history. He later dropped out.
Love's Enduring Promise
The offspring of celebrated actors John Astin and Patty Duke, Mackenzie Astin knew he wanted to follow in his parents' footsteps when he was a little boy. Although his mother did not completely agree with Astin's aspiration, she was supportive and ready to help her son whenever he needed it. Born and raised in Hollywood, Astin made his professional debut at age 9 when he landed a part in the TV film “Lois Gibbs and the Love Canal” (CBS, 1982), playing Tony Belinski. He continued to have guest roles in the shows “Finder of Lost Loves” (1984), “Hail to the Chief,” a short lived ABC sitcom starring his mother, and “Hotel” (both 1985). He then appeared in the reunion television film “I Dream of Jeannie: 15 Years Later” (also 1985), but did not gain fame until he was cast in the regular role of Andy Moffett Stickle on the NBC long running comedy series “The Facts of Life,” opposite Lisa Whelchel, Kim Fields and Mindy Cohn. Playing the disobedient youth from 1985 to 1988, he won a 1986 Young Artist Award in the category of Best Young Supporting Actor in a Television Series. While working on the show, Astin received a supporting role in the comedy “The Garbage Pail Kids Movie” (1987).
Despite his early success, Astin decided to leave acting to complete high school and attend college. He, however, soon left college and resumed his acting career in 1992 with the supporting role of Beverly D'Angelo's son, Dennis, in “A Child Lost Forever,” a NBC television film about child abuse. He also played the role of Charlie Gallagher in two episodes of the dramatic series “Brooklyn Bridge” (1992-1993). Astin revisited the big screen in 1994 to star as Will Stoneman in the Disney adventure “Iron Will,” with Kevin Spacey and David Ogden Stiers and next appeared in Lawrence Kasdan's “Wyatt Earp” (also 1994), which starred Kevon Costner. He then made a cameo appearance in his brother Sean's starring vehicle “Harrison Bergeron” (1995, TV) and was reunited with his “A Child Lost Forever” costar Beverly D'Angelo for the TV film “Widow's Kiss” (1996) before costarring as the grandson of Shirley MacLaine in “The Evening Star” (1996), a disappointing installment to James L Brooks' hit “Terms of Endearment” (1984). Although his next film, the Richard Attenborough directed “In Love and War” (1996), was also a box office dud, the actor did earn some notice for his portrayal of Henry Villard in the film.
Astin spent the rest of the decade costarring with Laurie Metcalf and Peter MacNeill in the based-on-true story television movie “The Long Island Incident” (1998), joined Chloë Sevigny, Kate Beckinsale and Chris Eigeman in “The Last Days of Disco” (1998) and portrayed Jonathan Daniels in the award nominated civil rights drama TV film “Selma, Lord, Selma” (1999). Also in 1999, he appeared in “The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human.”
A guest spot in an episode of “The Outer Limits” and a starring role in the Eric Bross directed thriller “Stranger Than Fiction” (both 2000) marked Astin's opening work in the new millennium. During the next few years, he could be seen in the TV films “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” (2001, opposite Nathan Lane) and “Everything But the Girl” (2001) as well as in such movies as “The Zeros” (2001), “The Month of August” (2002), “Two Days” (2003, with Paul Rudd and Donal Logue) and “How to Deal” (2003, starred Mandy Moore and Allison Janney). He also returned to series TV as a regular in the short lived legal drama “First Years” (NBC, 2001), in which he was cast as Warren Harrison. The show also starred Samantha Mathis, Bruce Winant and Kevin Connolly.
Next up for Astin, he costarred with Marguerite Moreau in the surfing movie “Off the Lip” (2004), was cast opposite January Jones in the based-on-novel television movie “Love's Enduring Promise” (2004), from which he jointly nabbed a Camie award from the 2005 Character and Morality in Entertainment, and was seen in the movies “In from the Night” (TV), “Duncan Removed” and “Military Intelligence and You” (all 2006). He also guest starred in such TV series as “Lost” (2005), “House M.D.,” “Pepper Dennis” and “Justice” (all 2006). In 2007, he appeared as Chip Dolan in the sport themed movie “The Final Season,” which starred his brother Sean as Kent Stock, and made a guest appearance as Brandon in an episode of '”My Name Is Earl” called “Get a Real Job.” He then appeared in an episode of the series “Psych” (2009).
Character and Morality in Entertainment: Camie, “Love's Enduring Promise,” 2005
Young Artist: Best Young Supporting Actor in a Television Series, “The Facts of Life,” 1986