Don Adams of 'Get Smart' dead

Reply Tue 27 Sep, 2005 03:34 am
Don Adams of 'Get Smart' dead
'Would you believe?' actor was 82


LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Don Adams, the wry-voiced comedian who starred as the fumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart in the 1960s TV spoof of James Bond movies, "Get Smart," has died. He was 82.

Adams died of a lung infection late Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, his friend and former agent Bruce Tufeld said Monday, adding that the actor broke his hip a year ago and had been in ill health since.

As the inept Agent 86 of the super-secret federal agency CONTROL, Adams captured TV viewers with his antics in combatting the evil agents of KAOS. When his explanations failed to convince the villains or his boss, he tried another tack:

"Would you believe ... ?"

It became a national catchphrase.

Smart was also prone to spilling things on the desk or person of his boss -- the Chief (actor Edward Platt). Smart's apologetic "Sorry about that, chief" also entered the American lexicon.

The spy gadgets, which aped those of the Bond movies, were a popular feature, especially the pre-cell-phone telephone in a shoe.

Smart's beautiful partner, Agent 99, played by Barbara Feldon, was as brainy as he was dense, and a plot romance led to marriage and the birth of twins later in the series.

Adams, who had been under contract to NBC, was lukewarm about doing a spy spoof. When he learned that Mel Brooks and Buck Henry had written the pilot script, he accepted immediately.

"Get Smart" debuted on NBC in September 1965 and scored No. 12 among the season's most-watched series and No. 22 in its second season.

"Get Smart" twice won the Emmy for best comedy series with three Emmys for Adams as comedy actor.

CBS picked up the show but the ratings fell off as the jokes seemed repetitive, and it was canceled after four seasons. The show lived on in syndication and a cartoon series. In 1995 the Fox network revived the series with Smart as chief and 99 as a congresswoman. It lasted seven episodes.

Adams never had another showcase to display his comic talent.

"It was a special show that became a cult classic of sorts, and I made a lot of money for it," he remarked of "Get Smart" in a 1995 interview. "But it also hindered me career-wise because I was typed. The character was so strong, particularly because of that distinctive voice, that nobody could picture me in any other type of role."

He was born Donald James Yarmy in New York City on April 13, 1923, Tufeld said, although some sources say 1926 or '27. The actor's father was a Hungarian Jew who ran a few small restaurants in the Bronx.

In a 1959 interview Adams said he never cared about being funny as a kid: "Sometimes I wonder how I got into comedy at all. I did movie star impressions as a kid in high school. Somehow they just got out of hand."

In 1941, he dropped out of school to join the Marines. In Guadalcanal he survived the deadly blackwater fever and was returned to the States to become a drill instructor, acquiring the clipped delivery that served him well as a comedian.

After the war he worked in New York as a commercial artist by day, doing standup comedy in clubs at night, taking the surname of his first wife, Adelaide Adams. His following grew, and soon he was appearing on the Ed Sullivan and late-night TV shows. Bill Dana, who had helped him develop comedy routines, cast him as his sidekick on Dana's show. That led to the NBC contract and "Get Smart."

Adams, who married and divorced three times and had seven children, served as the voice for the popular cartoon series, "Inspector Gadget," as well as cartoon character Tennessee Tuxedo. In 1980, he appeared as Maxwell Smart in a feature movie, "The Nude Bomb," about a madman whose bomb destroyed people's clothing.

Tufeld said funeral arrangements were incomplete.
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Reply Tue 27 Sep, 2005 03:41 am
Yes, I heard the news, too. Sad
How very sad.
Goodbye, Maxwell & thanks for the laughs. Very Happy
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Reply Tue 27 Sep, 2005 05:10 am
Back in the days when Mel Brooks was still fairly unknown he created this masterpiece and the world was given the special treat of Don Adams (and of course Ed Platt Very Happy )

Don Adams shall be missed.
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Reply Tue 27 Sep, 2005 10:41 pm
It really surprises me that there's so little response here to to Maxwell's passing. Confused In Oz Get Smart had a huge following. Not just the first time around, but in re-run after re-run after re-run ......
I knew folk how actually rushed home from work to catch the show! (which was on as some ridiculous late afternoon time-slot in the '80s).
I wasn't as addicted as that, but did think it was etremely funny & very, very clever. Very Happy
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Mr Stillwater
Reply Wed 28 Sep, 2005 02:59 am
This sucks!! First Gilligan, now this!!!


Favourite bit of all time.....

A dying agent with 86 and some-one else kneeling next to him. The dying man is trying to say something, the other person leans in to hear. Max asks 'What did he say?' - 'He asked if you could take your knee off his chest'....

and Agent 13. The one that turns up in all those tiny hiding places, in the ball-return chute of a bowling alley? Tricky..
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Merry Andrew
Reply Wed 28 Sep, 2005 03:09 am
It's too bad the "Get Smart" series stifled Don Adams's career. We really can't judge what else he might have been capable of. He will always and forever be remembered as Agent 86.
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Mr Stillwater
Reply Wed 28 Sep, 2005 03:13 am
Merry Andrew wrote:
It's too bad the "Get Smart" series stifled Don Adams's career. We really can't judge what else he might have been capable of. He will always and forever be remembered as Agent 86.

Don't worry about that. He traded the upfront salary as an actor for a cut of the syndication rights. A VERY good call - he was very well-off....
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Mr Stillwater
Reply Wed 28 Sep, 2005 03:18 am
..and his other great role.

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