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Edith Adams

Performer
( b. Apr 16, 1927 Kingston, Pennsylvania, USA - d. Oct 15, 2008 Los Angeles, California, USA ) Female
Also known as: Edie Adams
Elizabeth Edith Enke [Birthname]
Relations: Wife of Ernie Kovacs (1955 - 1962) his death
Edie Adams was an actress, comedian and singer who both embodied and winked at the stereotypes of fetching chanteuse and sexpot blonde, especially in a long-running series of TV commercials for Muriel cigars, in which she poutily encouraged men to "pick one up and smoke it sometime."

Ms. Adams had a remarkably varied career in show business, performing on stage, in nightclubs and on the large and small screens. A classically trained singer who graduated from Juilliard, she won the Miss U.S. Television beauty pageant in 1950 after singing a coloratura version of "Love Is Where You Find It" in the talent competition. The prize was an appearance in Minneapolis onstage with Milton Berle, which led to an appearance on his television show, which in turn led to her being featured on television with the cigar-smoking comedian Ernie Kovacs, who would become her husband.

Ms. Adams made her Broadway debut in 1953, playing Rosalind Russell's sister in the Leonard Bernstein musical Wonderful Town, directed by George Abbott.

By the time she took her second Broadway role, in the musical version of the comic strip Li'l Abner in 1956, she was already known for her comic, vocal and physical gifts. Though not as spectacularly curvy as Marilyn Monroe, Ms. Adams bore some resemblance to her and was known to do a wicked Monroe impersonation. So the part of the voluptuous and loyal Daisy Mae was a perfect fit, and for her performance she won a Tony.

In the 1960s she took her talents to the movies, appearing largely in supporting roles in battle-of-the-sexes films including "The Apartment" (1960), with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine; "Lover Come Back" (1961), with Doris Day and Rock Hudson; and "Under the Yum Yum Tree" (1963), with Mr. Lemmon and Carol Lynley. She was part of the enormous ensemble -- including Sid Caesar, Jonathan Winters, Spencer Tracy, Phil Silvers, Mickey Rooney and Ethel Merman -- in Stanley Kramer's "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1963), and she played the wife of a ruthless presidential candidate (Cliff Robertson) in the screen adaptation of Gore Vidal's political drama "The Best Man."

In 1962 she appeared on ABC with Duke Ellington. In 1963 she also began a variety show, "Here's Edie," in which she performed with the likes of Count Basie and Sammy Davis Jr. The show received five Emmy nominations, but was short-lived.

Edith Elizabeth Enke was born in Kingston, Pa. -- Adams was her mother's maiden name -- and spent her childhood partly in Grove City, Pa., and partly in Tenafly, N.J. Her father was a banker until the stock market crash of 1929; then he became a salesman. Her mother was a music teacher and an English teacher who quit after American soldiers returned from World War I out of a belief, born of her Welsh heritage, Ms. Adams once said, that a woman should not take a job from a man. It was also part of the Welsh heritage, she added, that young women were expected to sing.

Ms. Adams's life was flecked with sorrow. Kovacs died in an automobile accident in Los Angeles in 1962 and left her with an enormous debt to the Internal Revenue Service, which she eventually paid off with performance dates and commercial work. Their daughter, Mia Kovacs, died in another automobile accident in 1982. Ms. Adams's marriage to Mr. Mills ended in divorce, as did a third marriage, to the jazz trumpeter Pete Candoli.

Source: NY Times Obituary



Productions Date of Productions
Li'l Abner
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Starring: Edith Adams [Daisy Mae]
Nov 15, 1956 - Jul 12, 1958
Wonderful Town
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Also Starring: Edith Adams [Eileen Sherwood]
Feb 25, 1953 - Jul 03, 1954
1957 Tony Award® Best Featured Actress in a Musical
winnerLi'l Abner [winner]
Starring: Edith Adams
1953 Theatre World Award
nomineeWonderful Town [recipient]
Also Starring: Edith Adams
Find out where Edith Adams and are credited together