Stars of Slapstick #91: Edie Adams
Hubba hubba! Snarl, snarl!
Today is the birthday of of Edie Adams (1927-2008). With her birthday falling on the same day as Christine McIntyre’s, today we are essentially a porn site for geek boy comedy fans.
With a singing degree from Juilliard and a drama degree from Columbia University, Adams (real name Edith Enke) broke into show business with an uncommon amount of training. In 1950, she won the “Miss U.S. Television” beauty pageant, then went on to do tv variety shows with Milton Berle, Arthur Godfrey, and finally, in 1951, Ernie Kovacs. She was to become Kovacs’ co-star, comedy partner and wife, remaining with him until his untimely death in 1962.
Not just beautiful, Adams brought a welcome infusion of all-American normal to the mix, helping to bridge the gap between the tv audience and the gonzo, urbane and sophisticated Kovacs. Their mutual love for music was a major part of their collaboration, as was their chemistry and the obvious fact that they were crazy about each other. When Kovacs passed away, Adams made a Herculean effort to see that what remained of his recorded legacy was preserved, overcoming privation and debt in order to do so.
In addition to her work with Kovacs, she was also a a star of Broadway musicals: Wonderful Town (1953), Li’l Abner (1956), and the original tv production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1957).
She was also pitchwoman for Muriel Cigars (taking over where Kovacs left off) and appeared in numerous films, including The Apartment (1960), Call me Bwana (with Bob Hope, 1963), Under the Yum Yum Tree (1963), It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), and The Best Man (1964), and, yes, Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke (1978).
For more comedy history please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc. To find out about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.