Thursday, October 16, 2008

Edie Adams (1927-2008)

Edie Adams, who made her Theatre World award-winning Broadway debut as Eileen in the original cast of Wonderful Town opposite Rosalind Russell in 1953, died yesterday at 81 of complications from pneumonia and cancer. Adams, a lyric soprano with a knack for comedy, became a popular in NY in the mid-50s, marrying popular television comedian Ernie Kovacs and securing a lasting legacy through her stage, film and television work. She won the 1956 Best Featured Actress in a Musical Tony for her performance as Daisy Mae in Li'l Abner (a role for which she turned down Cunegonde in Candide).

Adams made an indelible impressions on television, most notably as Julie Andrews' fairy godmother in the Rodgers and Hammerstein adaptation of Cinderella and as herself on the final episode of The Lucy and Desi Comedy Hour. When Kovacs died in a car accident in 1962, Adams found herself deeply indebted to the IRS as a result and was forced to work diligently in order to pay off her husband's debt. She made her mark as a character actress in such '60s film classics such as The Apartment, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Love With the Proper Stranger and The Best Man. She was the seductively elegant poster girl for Muriel cigars for 19 years, appearing in print ads and commercials. In later years, she made guest appearances on Murder, She Wrote, Designing Women, and a slew of other series.

Adams, a Juilliard trained coloratura, made her big break winning the talent portion of a beauty competition on the DuMont network in 1950. According to her NY Times obituary, the prize was an appearance with Milton Berle, which led to an appearance on his show, where she would meet Kovacs. They were married in 1954. Their daughter Mia was also tragically killed in an automobile accident in 1982 (sadly on the same stretch of roadway where her father died). Adams is survived by her son Josh from her second marriage to actor Marty Mills.

Here she is, crooning the classic ballad "That's All" on that final episode of Lucy and Desi:

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