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Edie Adams: A great lady of the small screen

EdieadamsSad to hear of the passing on Wednesday of Edie Adams, a great lady of the small screen, legit and movies.

I had the pleasure of meeting her a few times, and interviewing her once at length at her home (thank you, Henri Bollinger). She was bubbly and funny and full of anecdotes about working in the early days of television.

Adams was, of course, the widow of TV legend Ernie Kovacs, and anyone who could go toe to toe with him in on myriad TV programs in the 1950s and early ’60s had to have mega talent, and that she did. A classically trained singer who graduated from Juilliard, Adams was a founding member of the Nairobi Trio. It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

Adams fiercely protected Kovacs’ legacy after his untimely death in 1962, and she famously toiled for years to pay off the debts left behind by her high-life-loving Hungarian genius (the daffy duo is pictured below).


She won a Tony for playing Daisy Mae in “Lil Abner,” and in addition to working with Kovacs on his shows, she did tons of TV, from her own musical-variety show to a zillion guest shots. She was also a fixture in TV and print ads with comically sexy blurbs for Muriel cigars (Kovacs was a famous consumer of stogies).

In film, the movies that jump to mind are “The Best Man” (an underrated classic, IMHO, with Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson); “The Apartment” (“Mad Men” fanatics owe a debt of gratitude to that pic); and her brief but memorable turn in Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke.”

Here’s a great interview that the Archive of American Television did with Adams in 1998.

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