Saturday, April 23, 2011
Holy smokes! It's Edie Adams
When I opened Josh Mills's email submission of his mom, I knew the rest of my day was shot. Several hours into my internet research of Edie Adams, I'm still mesmerized. Adams was one of the great american entertainers—a Tony award winning Broadway star, an Emmy winning comedian and a shrewd pitchwoman.
Josh writes: "This photo is from one of her Muriel Cigar ads that ran for close to a decade. She was always pretty sexy and the guys noticed the twinkle in her eye when she said, 'Why don’t you pick one up and smoke it sometime'. Muriel sales went up tenfold when she became the pitch-woman for the brand."
Here she is in a 1965 commercial for the cigar with Stan Getz, you know, the jazz legend.
In addition to commercials, and leading roles in Broadway musicals, the Julliard graduate had a thriving film career, appearing in Billy Wilder's The Apartment, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and my personal favorite, "Love with the Proper Stranger" a film that tackled abortion and one-night-stands from a female perspective all the back in 1963. Still, much of her career was spent on TV. Here she is on the series finale of I Love Lucy, helmed by her fellow female comedy star.
She had impeccable timing and a knack for parody but funny wasn't usually what the entertainment industry sought out from women. Early on in her career she won a chance to perform along side Milton Berle, but there was a caveat: "I was permitted to sing so long as I wore a bathing suit," Edie once recalled. But one man took her talents seriously. Husband Ernie Kovacs, the celebrated comedian, joined forces with Edie as a comedy team performing on variety shows together. Here they are together on the Dinah Shore Chevy show.
When Ernie died in 1962, Edie was just 32 years old. Upon his death, "Edie collected, acquired, preserved and jealously guarded video tapes and kinescopes of the shows he created and in which they both appeared more than fifty years ago," writes Josh who now controls both Ernie and Edie's archives. "Edie devoted many years of her life to planning the return of these shows to the air and home video."
Without her partner in life and business, Edie turned to new projects to stave off debt and heartache. This is where her business acumen came in. She bought an almond farm. That's right, almonds, and in 1967, developed a chain of beauty shops called “Edie Adams Cut and Curl”, that still exists today. She also set up Ediad Productions, Inc., which owns the rights to early 60s music-variety television series featuring jazz greats Andre Previn, Louis Armstrong, Bob Hope, Duke Ellington, Stan Getz, Sammy Davis, Jr."
In 1982, 20 years before her death, she was asked by People Magazine for advice on love. Her response?
"You have to get independent first and then find someone who is not threatened by you...Every time I get lonesome these days, I start another business."
For more photos and stories from Edie's life, check out Josh's archive, at edieadams.com.