Most people today recall Edie Adams as the gorgeous partner in mayhem to her zany husband Ernie Kovacs and as the sexy member of the ensemble casts of classic films including “The Apartment” and “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” Older viewers will also recall her as the alluring yet playful TV commercial spokesperson for Muriel Cigars.
However, Adams’ work as the star of a variety show that ran from 1962 to 1964 is mostly unknown – if only because the 21-episode program has not been seen since its original telecast. This four-disc DVD brings back the full series, along with the original Muriel Cigars commercials.
In some ways, the series was fairly eclectic. Adams was a great jazz fan, and she brought about guests that included Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Al Hirt, Stan Getz and Pete Fountain – not exactly the type of performers that ruled the airwaves during the early 1960s. Adams also took her show on location to New York and London – the latter offering unexpected diversions including a recitation of the St. Crispin’s Day speech from “Henry V” by Sir Michael Redgrave and a sidewalk romp by a jolly pair called the Piccadilly Buskers.
But, in other ways, the program had a hit-and-miss quality that was typical of the variety programs of the era. The usual suspects among the era’s name stars – Bob Hope, Sammy Davis Jr., Zsa Zsa Gabor, Charlie Brill & Mitzi McCall, Louis Nye – turn up as guests. Some comedy skits are funny, particularly the fast-paced dialogue exchanges of Rowan and Martin, while others are ghastly (most egregiously, a teach-yourself-magic routine by the long-forgotten Cliff Norton and Buddy Hackett as a soda jerk serving a counter packed with obese people).
Adams was a charming presence throughout each episode. And even when she was occasionally stuck in less-than-stellar material, she still managed to use the force of her personality to put on a diverting show.