The way Edie Adams looked –– golden-haired, pretty and vivacious –– might lead some to assume that she was a stereotypical dumb blonde. In reality Adams was blonde, but she was no ditz…
The way Edie Adams looked –– golden-haired, pretty and vivacious –– might lead some to assume that she was a stereotypical dumb blonde. In reality Adams was blonde, but she was no ditz. She was an Emmy- and Tony-winning actress, a classically trained singer, a devastatingly funny comedienne, and a successful businesswoman who built a fortune out of nothing. On the fifth anniversary of her death at age 81, we’re remembering Edie Adams’ very smart career.
Born in Pennsylvania, Adams performed from an early age, making a career in the arts seem a natural choice. But Edie Adams, actress, was almost Edie Adams, fashion designer. As a young woman, she loved designing and crafting clothing, and she almost chose that as her career. In the end, she flipped a coin and fashion lost.
Adams’ first big break was on the TV show Three to Get Ready, hosted by Ernie Kovacs. Kovacs became her frequent costar as well as her husband. They married in 1954 and worked together throughout their marriage, bringing their shared comedic talent to a variety of TV programs.
It’s no surprise that Adams’ comedy often included music. In addition to being a funny actress and a talented designer, she was a Julliard-trained vocalist. She offered a song in her hilarious send-up of Marilyn Monroe, too.
Adams was a movie star, too. Among the 1960s classics in which she appeared was the star-studded It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
Adams’ marriage to Kovacs tragically lasted less than 10 years, ended by Kovacs’ death in a car accident in 1962. It was then that Adams put her business skills into play. After her husband’s death, Adams was deeply in debt. She began a number of business ventures –– a cosmetics line, a chain of salons, an almond farm. She took on commercial work, honoring her husband’s love of cigars by becoming the advertising face of Muriel Cigars. Before long, she had pulled herself out of debt, and a quarter of a century after losing Kovacs, she was a millionaire.
As if acting, singing and a business portfolio weren’t enough to keep Adams busy, she also became an advocate for the preservation of early TV programs. The DuMont Network, which had aired The Ernie Kovacs Show, failed while television was still new, and few of its programs were kept. According to Adams, truckloads of irreplaceable kinescopes were dumped into the Upper New York Bay. Adams used her own money to save as many bits of television history as she could, buying any remaining DuMont kinescopes still available. It was part of a lifelong devotion to the medium that made her career, brought her love, and introduced her to the world as a very funny –– and very smart –– woman.
Written by Linnea Crowther. Find her on Google+.