The Sad Suicide of Stanley Adams

Stanley Adams (1915-77) is well known to fans of the original Star Trek for his bravura, over-the-top performance as the unscrupulous trader Cyrano Jones in the episode “The Trouble with Tribbles”. This may have been Adams’ best remembered performance, but most of his over 200 credits in film and TV were similarly broad. The ’60s were his hottest period. He was, for example, a Polynesian chieftain in the final episode of Gilligan’s Island. He was a sentient carrot on Lost in Space. He was a pool hustler on The Odd Couple. He played Otis’s brother on The Andy Griffith Show. He was Captain Couragous on two episodes of Batman. He was on The Ghost Busters (1975 — the kid’s TV show, not the film franchise).

And he had supporting roles on lots of movies, including North by Northwest (1959), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), The Errand Boy (1961), Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), Ship of Fools (1965), Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex...(1972), and Bob Einstein’s Another Nice Mess (1972).

But there were problems. Early in the ’70s he injured his back, and I’m here to tell you chronic back pain can be a painful, demoralizing, depressing ordeal, in particular for an actor, whose entire job is generally to move about the world as though he didn’t have back pain. Earlier, we wrote about how Ed Flanders, despondent over a similar situation took his own life with a gunshot to the head. Stanley Adams left this world using the same method in 1977 at age 62.

One way we have of deducing how much pain Adams was in can be drawn from this fact: he wasn’t just an actor. He was also a writer. Adams had written or co-written episodes of Star Trek, Mr. Ed, The Flying Nun, Mannix and other TV shows. If it were strictly a question of avoiding strenuous movement, or movement at all, he might have just focused on his writing. But that’s not what he chose. He was probably in pain constantly. Oh, for the medical advances of the 23rd century!