Originally published Sept. 15, 2004, the following interview with the vibrant and chatty Edie Adams is a high point of my life. I called Edie at her home in Los Angeles, and immediately found her to be friendly, funny, and talkative. It was 30 minutes into our conversation before I finally got a question in. One question I asked that did not make the final cut was, "Do you think if Ernie had lived, he would have co-starred with you in 'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World'?" Her answer was brief without conjecture: "I don't know." I met her in person a week or so later at the Buster Keaton Celebration in Iola, Ks., where Edie was special guest in honor of her late husband, Ernie Kovacs. She chuckled throughout the surprise finale: a live performance in full gorilla mask costumes by The Nairobi Trio [made famous by Ernie on numerous TV shows]. Edie died almost exactly four years later on Oct. 15, 2008 at age 81 from complications of cancer and pneumonia.
For example, she explained that Jonathan Winters seldom sat around with other cast members outside in the heat when they were taking a break in filming on location in the desert near Palm Springs. Instead, he stayed in his air conditioned trailer. Edie and several other actors, including Ethel Merman, would wait between scenes in their chairs. One day they set Ethel up by excitedly telling her, “Here comes Jonathan!” Ethel literally got up and scurried away. Jonathan was still in his trailer, and everyone had a good laugh at Ethel’s expense. By that time, Merman was long gone in hiding. Edie said Ethel did not understand Winters’ humor, and thought him deranged.