Astin was born in Santa Monica, California, the son of actress Patty Duke (1946–2016) and Michael Tell. At the time, it was erroneously reported that entertainer Desi Arnaz Jr. was his biological father. When Michael Tell, a writer, music promoter and publisher of the newspaper The Las Vegas Israelite, came to sublet her apartment and offered to marry her as a way out of the scandal, Duke agreed. The marriage lasted only 13 days in 1970, and ended long before Astin was born.
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