Updated: July 14, 2022
IN MEMORY OF ACTRESS JULIE ADAMS
Julie Adams was born as Betty May Adams on October 17, 1926 in Waterloo, Iowa, the daughter of Arkansas-born parents Esther Gertrude (Beckett) and Ralph Adams, who was a cotton buyer. Her family moved a great deal; the longest she lived in one town was eight years in Blytheville, Arkansas. Adams worked as a part-time secretary and began her film career in B movie westerns. In 1946, at the age of 19, she was crowned "Miss Little Rock" and then moved to Hollywood, California to pursue her acting career.
She used her real name until 1949, when she began working for Universal-International, the same studio where she met unknown stars such as James Best, Piper Laurie, Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis. She then became "Julia" and eventually "Julie". In 1954, she explained the latter change, "The studio picked Julia, but I never have felt comfortable with it. I just like the name Julie better, and the studio has given me permission to make the change."
Her first movie role was a minor part in Red, Hot and Blue (1949), followed by a leading role in the Lippert western The Dalton Gang (1949). Adams was featured as the bathing beauty Kay Lawrence in the science-fiction film Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954).
Adams co-starred in 1950s films opposite some of Hollywood's top leading men, including with James Stewart in 1952's Bend of the River, with Rock Hudson in The Lawless Breed (1953) and One Desire (1955), with Tyrone Power in The Mississippi Gambler (1953), with Glenn Ford in The Man from the Alamo (1953), with Charlton Heston in The Private War of Major Benson (1955), with Dan Duryea in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957) and with Joel McCrea in The Gunfight at Dodge City (1959).
Adams co-starred with Rory Calhoun, known for his role in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), in the film The Looters (1955), the story of a plane crash in the Rocky Mountains. Part of the picture was filmed about Tarryall Creek at what is now Eleven Mile State Park in Park County in central Colorado. The advertising poster reads: "Five desperate men ... and a girl who didn't care ... trapped on a mountain of gale-lashed rock!"
Adams was famously menaced in the 1954 horror classic Creature from the Black Lagoon Adams also starred in 1957's Four Girls in Town, a romantic comedy about four young women competing for the leading role in a new movie, featuring an international cast. She appeared with Elvis Presley in the musical-comedy Tickle Me (1965). Adams thought highly of her co-star, noting: "Despite his status as a superstar singer and stage performer, Elvis took his acting very seriously. He was always prepared, and did a good job in the roles he was given. When he did his musical numbers in Tickle Me, sometimes walking from table to table in a nightclub set, he did them perfectly in one take."
On television, Adams appeared on The Andy Griffith Show portraying Mary Simpson, a county nurse and romantic interest of Sheriff Andy Taylor in a 1962 episode. She also made four guest appearances on Perry Mason; the most memorable was the 1963 episode, "The Case of the Deadly Verdict," when she played Janice Barton, Mason's only convicted client during the show's nine-year run on CBS. In 1964, she played Janice Blake in "The Case of the Missing Button". In 1965, she played the role of defendant Pat Kean in "The Case of the Fatal Fortune." Adams appeared on The Rifleman as a dubious vixen and romantic interest of lead character Chuck Connors. She guest-starred in five episodes of 77 Sunset Strip, on Alfred Hitchcock Presents three times, and on Maverick twice.
More guest-star roles in popular television series followed, including McMillan & Wife, Police Woman, The Streets of San Francisco, The Incredible Hulk, Cannon, Quincy, M.E., and Cagney & Lacey. Adams co-starred with James Stewart in The Jimmy Stewart Show on NBC in 1971-1972. Stewart played a professor, and Adams played his wife. She was cast in the recurring role of real estate agent Eve Simpson for ten episodes of CBS's Murder, She Wrote.
Adams, along with her son, Mitchell, authored a book on her life and career, The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections From The Black Lagoon, which was published in 2011. A limited test print run of 100 copies with an interview DVD of the audio book version has been completed. Her son serves as producer.
Adams joined three other cast members from Creature from the Black Lagoon for a 50th anniversary celebration of the film at Creaturefest in November 2003. The festival was held at Wakulla Springs, just south of Tallahassee, Florida, where underwater scenes were filmed in 1953.
In August 2012, she was a guest of honor at the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention held at the Shrine Auditorium. (She attended the same convention in May 2012.) She also appeared at the CineCon Classic Film Festival on August 31, 2012 at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. She was a scheduled guest at The Hollywood Show in Chicago from September 7–9, 2012. An additional book signing was held at Century Books in Pasadena, California, on September 20, 2012. On October 13, 2012, she was back in Berwyn, Illinois for a book signing party.
In October 2012, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences selected Creature from the Black Lagoon as one of 13 classic horror films to screen to honor the 100th anniversary of Universal Pictures. The film was shown (in 3D format) on October 16 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California. After the screening, Adams appeared on stage for a Q&A session where she shared personal memories of her role in the film, as well as several other career projects on which she had worked.
Adams was married to screenwriter Leonard B. Stern from 1950/1951 to 1953. She was then married to actor-director Ray Danton from 1954/55 until their divorce in 1981. They had two sons: Steven Danton (b. 1956), an assistant director, and Mitchell Danton (b. 1962), an editor.
Adams died on February 3, 2019 in Los Angeles, California, aged 92. She is survived by her two sons. Her cremains are buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Malvern, Arkansas.