Friday, October 17, 2008

Edie Adams R.I.P.

Chanteuse, comedian, and actress Edie Adams passed Wednesday at the age of 81. She had fought a long battle with cancer before succumbing to pneumonia.

Edie Adams was born Edith Enke in Kingston, Pennsylvania on April 16, 1927. She grew up in Grove City, Pennsylvania and Tenafly, New Jersey. She was drawn into singing by her mother, who being of Welsh descent believed a woman should be able to sing. She received a degree from the Juilliard School of Music and attended the school of drama at Columbia University in Manhattan. In 1950 she won the "Miss U.S. Television" beauty contest. As a prize she won an appearance with Milton Berle in a performance in Minneapolis. Afterwards she made an appearance on his TV show.

This would in turn lead to what may have been the most pivotal part of her career. She was one of the cast of Ernie in Kovacsland, with the great Ernie Kovacs, in 1951. She was also a regular on The Ernie Kovacs Show in 1952. She and Kovacs would marry on September 12, 1954. Adams appeared in a variety of TV shows in the Fifties. She appeared in such dramas as Suspense, Appointment with Adventure, Suspicion, and General Electric Theatre. She played the Fairy Godmother in the TV special Cinderella in 1957. She appeared on such talk shows and variety shows as The Colgate Comedy Hour, The Steve Allen Show, The Tonight Show with Jack Paar, The Perry Como Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, and The Dinah Shore Chevy Show. In the Fifties she appeared on Broadway twice, in Wonderful Town in 1953 and as Daisy Mae in Li'l Abner in 1956 (for which she won the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical).

The Sixties saw Adams make her feature film debut in The Apartment. She would appear in several more movies during the decade, including Call Me Bwana, Under the Yum Yum Tree, Lover Come Back, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, and Love with the Proper Stranger. Throughout the decade she also appeared on such shows as What's My Line, The Dean Martin Show, The Jackie Gleason Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Carol Burnett Show, and The Lucy Show. In 1963 she would have her own variety show, Here's Edie. September 13, 1962 would be one of the most tragic days of her life, her husband Ernie Kovacs dying in a car crash on that day. The two had worked together from Ernie in Kovacsland, appearing together on such shows as What's My Life, The U. S. Steel Hour, The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, and The Perry Como Show.

From the Seventies to the Naughts Adams appeared less frequently in movies, although she did appear in Up in Smoke, The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood, and Boxoffice. On television she appeared in shows such as The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Hollywood Squares, McMillan and Wife, Harry O, Bosom Buddies, Murder She Wrote, and It's Garry Shandling's Show.

While well known as a singer and comedian, and as Kovacs' wife and partner, Edie Adams was also well known for her 19 year stint as the spokesman for Muriel cigars. Her sex appeal on full display, in slinky dresses and the highest heels possible, she would ask viewers, "Why don't you pick one up and smoke it sometime?" They were probably some of the sexiest commercials of all time.

I must confess that I have had an enormous crush on Edie Adams since childhood. She was the epitome of the blonde sexpot. But what set her apart from many other beautiful singers and actresses was that Adams had real talent. She'd been classically trained as a singer and it showed in every one of her performances. She was an incredible comedian, with an impeccable sense of timing. She was also a talented actress, often overshadowing better known talents in some of her films (an example, the all star cast in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World). It is no wonder that Ernie Kovacs fell in love with her and married her. Forget about her beauty. She was one of the few women intelligent enough and talented enough to keep up with his genius. Indeed, if Kovacs is still a legend today, much of that is due to Edie Adams. She was a rare performer with multiple talents, able to sing, act, and crack jokes with ease. While she was incredibly sexy, it was her talent and her intelligence that set her above every other Hollywood blonde.


Christopher Newton said...

Yea, Edie!
I actually met Edie Adams. I was about sixteen and spending a week in Hollywood with my father, who was a newspaper columnist. He was invited to Edie and Ernie's house to interview them and I got to come along. I still remember seeing the gates of their estate and being buzzed though after identifying ourselves on the intercom. I had never seen such a thing before. Edie Adams served me a Coke! Ernie of course was the focus and talked and joked about his upcoming season - but by the following month he was dead.
Thanks for putting up this obit. I wasn't aware of her passing.

1138 said...

Add another crush.
Edie will always be with me in my memories.

Terence Towles Canote said...

Wow, Christopher, I couldn't picture meeting both Edie and Ernie. They were both amazing people. Truly talented. And they were great team. And I'm guessing there are millions of guys out there between 100 and 35 who had crushes on Edie Adams!