Broadway star Edie Adams, widow of comedian Ernie Kovacs, ex-wife of
photographer Marty Mills, and ex-wife of musician Pete Candoli, has
Edie is something of a hero of mine. She was quite eccentric, to
the least, and could be very frustrating at times. Endlessly
energetic and highly charged, she seemed to gain energy as the hours
creeped later after midnight.
Being in the shadow of people like Candoli and Kovacs, Edie doesn't
always get her own respect. She was a tremendously talented singer
and actress, a graduate of Juilliard, and was nominated for three
Emmys for her TV work. She should have been nominated for an Oscar
for her great performance in Billy Wilder's The Apartment (1960).
Her TV series, Here's Edie, is a landmark show filled with the very
top musical talent, from Count Basie to André Previn. Her TV
commercials for Muriel Cigars are unforgettable (particularly to
teenaged boys of the era.)
But to my mind, I will always love her best for her preservation
work. Her first husband, Ernie Kovacs, was a groundbreaking TV
comedian. Most modern TV comedy from David Letterman to Saturday
Night Live owes him a debt of gratitude. After Ernie died in a car
accident in 1962, Edie found that Ernie's work was being destroyed
lock, stock, and barrel by the networks. Already almost hopelessly
drowned in debt, she took out more loans and bought everything of
Ernie's she could get her hands on. She worked for the next ten
years to pay off those debts.
It is because of Edie that we have any record of Ernie's work, and
her dogged insistence on re-gathering all the material from his
career (and her own, incidentally.) I met her in the late 90s when
she was working on the A&E Biography special for Ernie. She'd
wind that I had some Kovacs footage she hadn't seen. I had to buy a
special answering machine around that time because Edie was
of leaving a short message.
I visited her in 1999 and witnessed her house, a wonderland of
memorabilia. Never far from her dogs, she had so much delicate
that it became necessary to keep her canine pals out of part of the
house, which they resented. She had a video room and all manner of
stuff. In the late 90s, she still had a beautiful green Jaguar,
which she drove at high speed down the mountainside where she
I sat in horror as she drove me to LAX, thinking "Oh, no, I'm going
to barf on Edie Adams' beautiful mahogany dashboard." Thankfully, I
didn't, but I boarded my flight with a head start on being air sick!
In 2005, she and I were both invited to an Ernie Kovacs
in Kansas, and she brought some rare stuff from her collection. A
small cadre of Kovacs fans were invited back to her "bed and
breakfast" where she showed the tapes in the common area. I can't
recall a more frustrating evening! Every show was something I
seen and it fascinated me, and Edie talked over the soundtrack of
each one. The result was that I couldn't really hear the shows and
couldn't really hear her important comments about the shows, so I
effectively missed both. I felt like Tantalus in Dante's Inferno.
didn't want her to stop, but I had to drive back from Kansas the
day. At 3am, with no sign of her losing any energy at all, we
finally had to break up for some sleep.
Edie never had an easy life. Ernie died in a car accident in 1962,
and she had custody problems with his two daughters by previous
marriage. Her daughter Mia died in another car accident in 1982.
would never speak about her two marriages afterward. I got the
feeling that Ernie was really the love of her life and she was
somehow disappointed that she never found that kind of relationship
Among celebrity film historians and preservationists, Edie is second
to none. Generous, kind, witty. I had asked for an acknowledgment
in the A&E Biography show but she got me a huge credit at the end,
even though they used more footage from her collection than mine.
I'm going to miss her a lot... I recently found a piece of outtake
footage from Our Man in Havana with Ernie, and I really wanted to
talk to her about it. Just at the moment I got the call telling me
of her death, I was unpacking a trailer for one of Ernie's movies.
Edie's surviving son, Josh Mills, is doing his best with a bad
situation. The poor guy has now lost his dad (Marty Mills), his
and his stepdad (Candoli) in the last 18 months. I've corresponded
with him. Nice guy, very classy.
Thanks for all you did, Edie. In the words of Ernie, "It's been
Thanks for posting that. It sounds like she was very active right
thru her later years.
Thank you for posting that.
I'd see Edie Adams in TV from time to time in the '60s and '70s -
commercials, talk shows and the like. I didn't have a great sense of
who she was though until a channel started playing reruns of The Ernie
Kovacs show (and that was about 90% of my introduction to Kovacs, too,
who died when I was five). She was so perfect on that show; I wish it
was being rerun more often so people could see her when she was in her