( b. Apr 16, 1927 Kingston, Pennsylvania, USA - d. Oct 15, 2008 Los Angeles, California, USA ) Female
Edie Adams was an actress, comedian and singer who both embodied and winked at the stereotypes of fetching chanteuse and sexpot blonde, especially in a long-running series of TV commercials for Muriel cigars, in which she poutily encouraged men to “pick one up and smoke it sometime.”
Ms. Adams had a remarkably varied career in show business, performing on stage, in nightclubs and on the large and small screens. A classically trained singer who graduated from Juilliard, she won the Miss U.S. Television beauty pageant in 1950 after singing a coloratura version of “Love Is Where You Find It” in the talent competition. The prize was an appearance in Minneapolis onstage with Milton Berle, which led to an appearance on his television show, which in turn led to her being featured on television with the cigar-smoking comedian Ernie Kovacs, who would become her husband.
Ms. Adams made her Broadway debut in 1953, playing Rosalind Russell’s sister in the Leonard Bernstein musical “Wonderful Town,” directed by George Abbott.
By the time she took her second Broadway role, in the musical version of the comic strip “Li’l Abner” in 1956, she was already known for her comic, vocal and physical gifts. Though not as spectacularly curvy as Marilyn Monroe, Ms. Adams bore some resemblance to her and was known to do a wicked Monroe impersonation. So the part of the voluptuous and loyal Daisy Mae was a perfect fit, and for her performance she won a Tony.
In the 1960s she took her talents to the movies, appearing largely in supporting roles in battle-of-the-sexes films including “The Apartment” (1960), with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine; “Lover Come Back” (1961), with Doris Day and Rock Hudson; and “Under the Yum Yum Tree” (1963), with Mr. Lemmon and Carol Lynley. She was part of the enormous ensemble — including Sid Caesar, Jonathan Winters, Spencer Tracy, Phil Silvers, Mickey Rooney and Ethel Merman — in Stanley Kramer’s “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963), and she played the wife of a ruthless presidential candidate (Cliff Robertson) in the screen adaptation of Gore Vidal’s political drama “The Best Man.”
In 1962 she appeared on ABC with Duke Ellington. In 1963 she also began a variety show, “Here’s Edie,” in which she performed with the likes of Count Basie and Sammy Davis Jr. The show received five Emmy nominations, but was short-lived.
“It was one of the first times that a black man and a white woman could be seen together on a stage, singing,” Mr. Mills said. “And that was her choice. That was her doing.”
In the 1970s and ’80s she returned to television, appearing frequently as a guest star on myriad series, from “Fantasy Island” and “The Love Boat” to “Murder, She Wrote” and “Designing Women.”
But of all her incarnations, she will be best remembered as the face (and the legs and the body) of Muriel cigars. In a series of commercials that ran over 19 years while sales of the brand increased more than tenfold, Ms. Adams, usually clad in the highest heels and the slinkiest dresses, danced with giant cigars, caressed them and extolled their virtues, often with a come-hither moue and a wink, and the whispered slogan adapted from Mae West’s famous invitation to come up and see her.
“One thing about my mom; she was keenly aware of her sex appeal,” said Mr. Mills, whose father was Ms. Adams’s second husband, the photographer Marty Mills. “She knew men would be happy to spend time with her. But she was smarter than the average bear.”
Edith Elizabeth Enke was born on April 16, 1927, in Kingston, Pa. — Adams was her mother’s maiden name — and spent her childhood partly in Grove City, Pa., and partly in Tenafly, N.J. Her father was a banker until the stock market crash of 1929; then he became a salesman. Her mother was a music teacher and an English teacher who quit after American soldiers returned from World War I out of a belief, born of her Welsh heritage, Ms. Adams once said, that a woman should not take a jo