Edie Adams, the actress and singer and wife of comedian Ernie Kovacs, has died at the age of 81 from pneumonia and cancer. Ms. Adams won a Tony Award for playing Daisy Mae on Broadway in Li'l Abner.
She was born Elizabeth Edith Enke in 1927 in Kingston, Pa., and grew up in Tenafly, N.J. She first attracted notice on the TV show "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts." Kovacs was then performing his innovative comedy show on a Philadelphia TV station, and his director saw her and invited her to audition. With her innocent face and refreshing manner, Adams became the ideal partner for Kovacs' far-out humor. They eloped to Mexico City in 1954.
She and Kovacs moved to Hollywood in the late 1950s, and both became active in films.
In Billy Wilder's classic "The Apartment," the 1960 Oscar winner for best picture, Adams played the spurned secretary to philandering businessman Fred MacMurray. Among her other movies were "Lover Come Back," "Call Me Bwana" (with Bob Hope), the all-star comedy "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (as Sid Caesar's wife), "Under the Yum Yum Tree," "The Best Man" and "The Honey Pot."
In early 1962 Kovacs crashed his car into a light pole, dying instantly. Adams now a widow was faced with debts of $520,000, trouble with the Internal Revenue Service and a nasty custody battle over Kovacs' daughters, Betty and Kippie, from his first marriage. She and Kovacs also had a daughter Mia, born in 1959 (Mia Kovacs was killed at 22 in a 1982 car accident). Milton Berle, Frank Sinatra, Jack Lemmon, Dean Martin and other stars organized a TV special to raise money for her and her daughters.
"Adams said, "No, I can take care of my own children." For a solid year, she worked continuously. After her widowhood, she had two brief marriages to photographer Martin Mills and trumpeter Pete Candoli.
In the 1980s and 1990s, she made appearances on such TV shows as "Murder, She Wrote" and "Designing Women." She also played Tommy Chong's mother, Mrs. Tempest Stoner, in the first Cheech and Chong movie, "Up in Smoke," in 1978.
Over the years, she strove to keep Kovacs' comedic legacy alive by buying rights to his TV shows and repackaging them for television and videocassettes.
To quote Ms. Adams, "Here was this guy with the big mustache, the big cigar and the silly hat, I thought, `I don't know what this is, but it's for me."
I heard that Ernie used to have a light up sign outside his home office that said "NOT NOW!" So if anyone in heaven tonight sees a sign that says "NOT NOW!", please do not disturb the happy reunion.
Good Night Mr. & Mrs Kovacs.