Julie Adams reflects back on her role in “Creature from the Black Lagoon”

Julie Adams is known best as the bathing beauty Kay Lawrence in 1954’s “Creature from the Black Lagoon”. She also appeared in the musical comedy “Tickle Me” along side Elvis Presley in 1965. Recently, Adams has authored a book on her life and career called “The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections From The Black Lagoon”, which was published in 2011 and is currently available via her website. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Julie about her role in “Creature from the Black Lagoon” and discuss her outstanding career.

Mike Gencarelli: Why do you think that Creature has resonated with fans for all these years?
Julie Adams: I think it’s a good movie. The script was well-written by Harry Essex and Arthur A. Ross. Jack Arnold was a fine director; he did a beautiful job directing the film. Our ensemble cast helped to make a fantastic story believable. The Creature suit was unique and original, and still captures audiences’ imaginations today with how immaculately it was designed and realized on film. The music also accentuates the suspense and enhances the scary moments. Creature enthusiasts from back in the 1950s watched the movie with their children in the 1970s. Today, people who grew up in the 70s run the film with their kids, so we now have three generations of fans — it is truly remarkable to be a part of this kind of phenomenon.

MG: What was your initial reaction when you first saw the Gill Man costume? Was it on Ben Chapman or Ricou Browning?
JA: I was startled the first time I saw the Gill Man fully realized. I’ll never forget how believable the costume looked. I did the majority of my work in the film with Ben Chapman. Ricou primarily worked with my double, Ginger Stanley, in the underwater sequences that were shot in Wakulla Springs, Florida.

MG: Did shooting the film in 3D cause any issues during production?
JA: Have you seen the new 3D Bluray? Shooting in 3D had very little impact on me throughout the course of the production. That aspect of the filmmaking was left up to our fine camera crew and director. I have seen the new 3D Bluray. In fact, we screened it in Jacksonville, Florida in March at Sun-Ray Cinema with a sold out audience. The entire film has been digitally restored. It’s almost like a new movie. Like a crystal clear window into the past. It is absolutely spectacular!

MG: What was it like swimming knowing that “the creature” was underneath you?
JA: In actuality, it was all an illusion. Because I only did the swimming on the surface at Universal Studios in Hollywood, the Creature was never beneath me at the studio. That was the magic of editing. The stunning underwater photography in Florida was seamlessly cut together with the shots of me on the surface on the studio backlot, creating the effect for the audience that the Creature and I were actually in the Black Lagoon together. I’m still astonished at how well the underwater ballet with Kay and the Gill Man still captivates viewers to this day!

MG: Any interesting stories from shooting in the water?
JA: Probably the most intriguing was from a scene near the end of the picture when I am being carried by Ben Chapman in the Creature’s underwater lair. Someone at the studio had forgotten to heat the tank that day. It was a chilly autumn morning, and the water was quite cold. So when Ben emerged with me in his arms I was trying desperately not to shiver. The goggles on Ben’s Creature mask fogged up and he couldn’t see very well. The cave set was made up of paper mache’ rocks that had a few jagged edges. While carrying me unconscious in his arms, Ben accidentally bumped my head against one of the rocks and my eyes suddenly opened and I raised my head. The director yelled “Cut,” and production was delayed momentarily while a small scrape on my forehead was tended to by a nurse. Of course, the studio made a publicity stunt out of it and pictures were taken of the mishap. I still love seeing the photo of Ben in his Creature suit looking over me solicitously as the nurse tends to my forehead. In the end, it was a very minor incident and production resumed about fifteen minutes later.

MG: Tell why did you decided to write your memoir “The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections From The Black Lagoon”?
JA: It was really the fans’ idea. Over the years a lot of folks who enjoy my work in movies and television asked me about writing a memoir. Finally in 2009, my son Mitch and I decided it was time to sit down and write one! It took us more than two years to complete. We have been delighted with the response to it, movie enthusiasts from all over world have read it, some have even sent nice notes telling me how much they have enjoyed it. There is an entire chapter about the making of Creature from the Black Lagoon, the book is also filled with numerous behind-the-scenes photos form Creature and other films and television shows that I appeared in through the years. It is available exclusively through my website at www.julieadams.biz.

MG: Any plans to release as audio book expanding the original small run?
JA: Due to the popularity of the print book, we released the audio book near the end of 2012. I read the entire story for the production, which was a lot of fun and brought back so many memories. I think my fans have enjoyed hearing me read the story on the audio book. Some even own both the print and audio book, which is wonderful!

MG: What was it like working with Elvis Presley?
JA: It was a dream. I’m from the South and Elvis was a true Southern gentleman. One example of this was how he sent all of the actresses in Tickle Me flowers on their first day on the set. I also marveled at how well he performed his singing numbers in the movie, lip-syncing them perfectly. Elvis was a phenomenon, and I cherished my time working with him!

MG: Looking back on your amazing career what were some of your favorite roles?
JA: Naturally, I loved the role of Kay Lawrence in Creature. It was nice playing an educated scientist who goes off on an adventure up the Amazon in search of the origin of a mysterious claw. I also enjoyed portraying Laura Baile in Bend of the River, opposite James Stewart, whom I consider to be one of the silver screen’s finest actors. Later in my career I had great fun as Eve Simpson, the realtor in Cabot Cove on Murder, She Wrote. She was an eccentric character who provided some funny moments on the show. And of course it was a great experience to play comedy with someone as skilled as Angela Lansbury. I also loved performing in the theatre. One of my favorite roles was as Mary Tyrone in Eugene O’Neill’s masterwork Long Day’s Journey into Night. I’ve been fortunate to play a lot of interesting women over the years, and feel blessed to have had so many opportunities in film, television, and on the stage to entertain audiences.

Son of Edie Adams, Josh Mills talks about keeping his mother’s memory alive

Josh Mills is son of the late singer/actress Edie Adams. Josh is also the owner of Ediad Productions & It’s Alive! Media & Management. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Josh about his mom and her new Christmas album Featuring Ernie Kovacs.

Mike Gencarelli: What are some of your fondest memories growing up with your mom Edie Adams?
Josh Mills: My mom was a pretty amazing woman. She was a very well known and talented but I remember her as just your average mom. She did the little things that I didn’t appreciate until later. She worked the snack stand at my little league games, she took me to Europe for the first time as a 15 year old after a medical scare she had because she wanted to make sure I saw it the ‘right’ way. She taught me to appreciate things I didn’t truly wouldn’t until I was older. I remember a story she told me about taking me to a Broadway show when I was a toddler. I had always been around the theater – she used to say I could sleep anywhere, even in the bass drum – because she was always doing one musical or another. Anyway, I had never been in the audience where she paid for a ticket for me, however. So we walk in, sit down and some prissy lady behind us says, “Oh no, a little kid. I hope he’s not too loud”. Without a word, I turned around and put my finger to my lips and said, “Ssssh. We don’t talk in the theater.” My mom almost fell over. Both my mom and my dad were took me everywhere and exposed me to a lot of things a lot of kids don’t get to see. Being a father now, I appreciate that a lot more.

MG: With Omnivore Recordings releasing “The Edie Adams Christmas Album: Featuring Ernie Kovacs (1952)” tell us about this album?
JM: I am really excited this is coming out. My mom was a part of Ernie Kovacs (www.erniekovacs.com) show on CBS in the 1950’s “Kovacs Unlimited”. They had met when she was hired on his local Philly show on WPTZ and became an off screen as well as an onscreen item and were married shortly after until Kovacs was killed in a car accident in January 1962. Anyway, my
mom was a classically trained singer and performer at Julliard so when they asked her to sing ‘pop’ songs on the Kovacs show on CBS – she was a little unsure about singing these modern songs. So with her own money, she paid for a transcription service to record the audio (not the video) of these shows so she could hear herself sing and make sure she was singing them correctly. It turns out that literally 60 years later, we connected with Omnivore Recordings folks to release this album. They are great – they listened to, cataloged, selected, mixed and sequenced what would eventually become “The Edie Adams Christmas Record”. Because my mom sang a new song every day on the show, we started with the month of December 1952 and put this Christmas record together. It’s so satisfying that after all this time; this never-before-heard- since it originally aired that this material is finally seeing the light of day on October 9th. The air checks that made this record were the same that we pulled from to get the bonus material for the new ‘lost’ Ernie Kovacs record, “Percy Dovetonsils…..Thpeaks” on Omnivore as well. I’m not a fidelity kind of guy but the sound is pretty great because while no one received the audio on an FM band on their TV’s in 1952, the sound originated on an FM band so the quality is pretty damn great.

MG: What was Christmas like in your house?
JM: You’ll have to buy it for the full liner notes, but here is an excerpt from my liner notes available on the CD.  “As Edie’s only son, I can safely say that I pretty much got everything I wanted for Christmas—even if I didn’t know I wanted it. Edie was big on lists. And catalogs. The Christmas I went away to college in Boston (my first time in serious winter weather) I was outfitted in more L.L. Bean than any native Beantown blue blood. As a kid, I can recall Christmas being about slot cars, superhero action figures and the latest Disney LP. I also had a full complement of dickies, scarves, gloves, ski hats and earmuffs that piled up in my drawers over the years. Had we lived in Fargo North Dakota, this wouldn’t have been at all odd. But we lived in Los Angeles, and I can recall more than a few 80+-degree Christmas mornings. I don’t think this Pennsylvania girl every truly grasped that she didn’t live on the East Coast for the last 50 plus years of her life.”

MG: Knowing your mom as not only a singer but also a television and film actress; what was your favorite work from her?
JM: Tough one! If you had asked me this question in 1978, I would have told you the “Love Boat”. I learned to play backgammon from one of the ship’s extras on the set and I was totally psyched to be on the Lido deck with Isaac and Gopher. Today, I think her two most famous roles were as Fred MacMurray’s scheming secretary in “The Apartment” or Monica Crump, Sid Caesar’s wife in “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”. I know that film was a great time in her life. It wasn’t too long after Ernie died and she always said it was the first time she really laughed since he passed away. I know “Mad World” helped her psyche by just being around so many comics and crazy people on the set. The stuntmen on the film really pushed the envelope on that film. She loved it everything about it.

MG: Tell us about your work with Ediad Productions?
JM: Ediad Productions is a production company my mom started and I now run on my own since she passed away in 2008. I am in charge of making sure that anything we deem fit for release from both the Edie Adams (www.edieadams.com) estate and Ernie Kovacs estate is done with quality, integrity and excitement. Kovacs was an iconic comedian – Television’s Original Genius – but not as many people know who he is or what he did all these years later. It’s my job to make sure more people know who Kovacs was and to give him the credit he is due as both a comedian and an innovator. I’m 44 so I usually tell people under 40 to ask their parents who Edie Adams was. As soon as I turn them on to her career and what she did – their jaws drop. I have photos of my mom w/ President Kennedy and President Nixon. She did a Royal Command Performance for the Queen of England. I have photos of her with Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Carson, Dean Martin, Christopher Walken and Gore Vidal among many others. She had her own TV show from 1962-1964 with amazing guests like Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Mathis, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stand Getz, Andre Previn, Bob Hope, Buddy Hackett – the list is endless. Before I was born and she married my dad she dated singers, athletes, comedians who are iconic and special. It blows my mind to know that at age 8, my mom took me, my best friend and his brother to meet Groucho Marx at his house in Bel-Air….on Halloween….dressed as the Marx Brothers. I still have the photo of us three and Groucho and it blows my mind to know she could just call him up and he’d say, “Come on over and bring the kids.” Wow!

Photo Credit: Ediad Productions

MG: How did It’s Alive! Media & Management come about?
JM: I started the company in 2002. We are celebrating 10 years in business this year. I had about 3 jobs in the music industry from 1994 – 2001 and I just got tired of getting laid off so I started my own company out of necessity but also because even when things got bad, I knew I couldn’t lay myself off. We (erm, I) started out doing music publicity “rock bands” but since then I’ve worked DVDs, books, films and I also got into management.

MG: Tell us about some of the clients you represent?
JM: Currently I am working & managing the Cambodian & American band Dengue Fever (www.denguefevermusic.com) as well as doing PR for a few bands like 45 Grave (www.dinahcancer.net), Rick Berlin (www.rickberlin.com) and Double Naught Spy Car (www.doublenaughtspycar.com) who cover a lot of musical territory. But I’ve also worked with many old school punk bands (Dead Kennedys, Weirdos, Adolescents, Fishbone), DVDs & films (“Electric Daisy Carnival”, “The Ernie Kovacs Collection”, “Fix – the Ministry Movie”), books (“”Go Ask Ogre”, John Sinclair’s “Guitar Army”) and more. I still love music and the artists I work with….and even some I no longer work with.

CD Review: Edie Adams “The Edie Adams Christmas Album: Featuring Ernie Kovacs (1952)”

Edie Adams
“The Edie Adams Christmas Album: Featuring Ernie Kovacs (1952)”
Release Date: October 9th, 2012
Label: Omnivore Recordings
Tracks: 15
Running Time: 29 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Omnivore Recordings is the label behind releasing this gem of a Christmas record. Edie Adams sings the best Christmas tracks along with Ernie Kovacs. There are 15 classic that have been pulled out from rare audio air checks from the TV show, “Kovacs Unlimited” dating back to the early to mid 1950’s. These recordings only exist today because Edie herself paid for them to be recorded. This holiday album from Edie Adams is also her first Christmas album. If you are looking for more audio titles from the archive of both Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams, stand tuned since Omnivore and Ediad recently announced a deal together to release a bunch of unreleased recording.

There is just something about these tracks that make them very fun and entertaining. Even though they are from way before my timem still listening to these Christmas tracks from the 1950s, really put me in the mood. Edie Adams had just such an amazing voice and add that to the charm of Ernie Kovacs, this is a perfect match. Edie brought the vocals and Ernie brought the humor. “Silver Bells” is a great notable collaboration of the two. Some of the classics are tracks like “Winter Wonderland”, “White Christmas” and “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town”. There is even a fun little Irish track “Christmas In Killarney” and also “It’s a Marshmallow World” makes me laugh every time.

I know today is the age of digital downloads and MP3, but I feel that his album really deserves to be listed to on Vinyl LP. I am not sure if it is available at this time but it would be a great idea if it is not. You can just hear the cracks and unique sounds that this was home recorded. Music today is way to polished and produced, it is very refreshing to here a different type of Christmas recordings. I could see myself putting this album on, relaxing with my wife and daughter and sipping some hot chocolate on a cold night. If you are looking to get some of that old time Christmas feeling, this is a must purchase for sure!

Eve to Adam’s Taki Sassaris talks music with Media Mikes

Taki Sassaris is the lead singer for the rock group Eve to Adam. The New York based group released the album “Banquet for a Starving Dog” in September of 2011. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Taki about the album and what it’s like playing in a band with a family member.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the bands most recent album?
Taki Sassaris: This album I think is our most mature as a group. The songs were written about experiences we all have endured as a band. I think there is a lot of reflection in the songs that are put on display. This album is a testament to the fact that we are one of the very few bands that are making our way through the modern rock world that have been together over a decade. We are very proud of this album.

AL: What is the band’s writing process like?
 TS: The process it’s self varies. It often will depend on who brings in what idea and where everyone is at during that time. Some songs come from the jam process and are shaped over time by everyone in the group. Other times I will start a song on my own and then bring it to the group to finish. Every song has its own identity depending on how it came about. A lot of the harder more up tempo songs come out of the rehearsal situation. I personally find that setting to be the most fun to create in. I am really able to realize the song in the moment while trying to decode what the message and the emotional content is. As a writer I find this to be the most adventurous and exciting. I think a bands best worth is when they are working together as a band to come up with the best material possible.

AL: Were there any different approaches taken in the studio for this album?
TS: During the actual recording process we concentrated more on getting full live takes. We wanted the takes to have the band playing together for a majority of the album. There were a couple tracks on the album that were recorded in just one take. One thing that has evaded us in previous recording efforts was capturing that live feel from the shows. We consciously made an effort to capture a live flow with this album. I think we did that and it is a more accurate representation of the band.

AL: Does being in a band with your brother ever makes things difficult?
TS: It’s a complete blessing probably 97% of the time. The 3% percent where things go array get pretty hairy. He and I know how to push each other’s buttons very well. We are either one another’s protector or destroyer. When him and I argue or fight it can get ugly quick. We try to step away from that but you never know when you wake up if that’s going to be one of the things you are going to have to work through. We have a very strong working relationship and we balance each other. We don’t have too many black eyes or scars to show for it.

AL: What can you tell us about the bands current tour with Creed?
TS: We are both represented by the Agency group. We have been out supporting the new album since July with various groups. We had a really good run opening for Hinder that got us put up for the Creed tour. We were lucky enough to get it and it’s been an honor. This tour is the largest situation we have ever been involved in. The level of show production and crowd volume has been amazing. Creed is a band that defined our genre for more than a decade. It’s been a great challenge to us getting to warm that crowd up every night and showing people that Eve to Adam deserves to be in the conversation. The run is very intense but its fun.

AL: What is next for the band?
TS: We will be touring all through the summer and have been booked for quite a few festivals. Some things haven’t been announced yet as it is still a little too early. Our label and management have estimated to us that the band will finish 2012 out on the road. Hopefully after that we will get right back in the studio and make another album. We have a lot of ideas that we are dying to work on. We are very busy and very happy.