October 17, 1926-February 3, 2019
Julie Adams, the comely brunette with the cascading curls best remembered as the damsel in distress in the 1954 horror classic "Creature From the Black Lagoon", has passed away at the age of 92 as stated to The Hollywood Reporter by her son Mitch Danton.
Ms. Adams was a guest of the festival in 2004 and 2015 (seen here in 2015 receiving her award).
In more than six decades in film and on television, Adams also starred with Donald O'Connor in "Francis Joins the WACS", played opposite Elvis Presley in "Tickle Me" and appeared with Dennis Hopper in "The Last Movie" and with John Wayne in "McQ".
Fans of the long-running Angela Lansbury show, "Murder, She Wrote" know Adams for playing the eccentric realtor Eve Simpson, and in the early 1970s, she portrayed Jimmy Stewart's wife in the legendary actor's first foray into starring on his own series "The Jimmy Stewart Show".
As a publicity stunt, Universal Studios once declared her legs "the most perfectly symmetrical in the world" and insured them for $125,000. And in 'The Case of the Deadly Verdict', a 1963 episode of "Perry Mason", Adams' character had the notable distinction of being one of the lawyer's few clients to be found guilty.
A standout in a series of quickly made Westerns at Paramount, Adams (then billed as Julia Adams) blossomed after she signed with Universal and was showcased in support of such stars as Arthur Kennedy in "Bright Victory", Stewart in Anthony Mann's "Bend in the River", William Powell in "The Treasure of Lost Canyon", Rock Hudson in "The Lawless Breed" and Van Heflin in "Wings of the Hawk".
Then the actress was offered the role that assured her a place in monster-movie history.
Seeking to cash in on the growing popularity of 3D films, Universal began production on "Creature From the Black Lagoon". Jack Arnold, who had mined box-office gold with the 3D thriller "House of Wax" (1953), was tapped to direct.
Conceived as an underwater version of Beauty and the Beast, it featured a mythical sea monster dubbed "Gill-Man." Played by Ben Chapman, the creature menaced a scientific expedition to the Amazon. Richard Carlson, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno, Nestor Paiva and Whit Bissell were cast as researchers.
The studio wanted Adams to star as Carlson's girlfriend, Kay Lawrence, who would become the creature's object of desire. But Adams considered the whole thing a step down in her career.
"I thought, 'The creature from what? What is this?'" Adams said in a 2013 interview for the Horror Society, "because I had been working with some major stars and so on. But I read it and said, 'If I turn it down, I won't get paid and I'll be on suspension.' And then I thought, 'What the hay! It might be fun.' And of course, indeed it was. It was a great pleasure to do the picture."
A young Guillermo del Toro was a fan and years later used the movie as inspiration for "The Shape of Water".
"The creature was the most beautiful design I'd ever seen," he told THR's Borys Kit in October 2017. "And I saw him swimming under Julie Adams, and I loved that the creature was in love with her, and I felt an almost existential desire for them to end up together. Of course, it didn't happen."
"Creature From the Black Lagoon" has become a cult classic, with Gill-Man joining the pantheon of Universal legendary monsters alongside Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man and The Mummy. It spawned the sequels "Revenge of the Creature" (1955), also in 3D, and "The Creature Walks Among Us" (1956). Adams did not appear in those.
In her Horror Society interview, Adams offered one reason why the first film remains so popular. "I think the best thing about the picture is that we do feel for the creature. We feel for him and his predicament", she said.
She was born Betty May Adams on Oct. 17, 1926, in Waterloo, Iowa. Her father was a cotton buyer, and the family moved frequently as she was growing up. Two years after graduating from Little Rock High School in Arkansas, Adams was crowned Miss Little Rock in 1946.
She decided to move to Hollywood and try her luck as an actress, supporting herself as a secretary as she learned her craft. Her first break came in 1949 when she landed a small part on the NBC series "Your Show Time".
After making her film debut in an uncredited role in Paramount's "Red, Hot and Blue", Adams was cast in a slew of Westerns. Then known as Betty Adams, she served as the female fixture in "The Dalton Gang", then played the heroine Ann in "Hostile Country", "Marshal of Helldorado", "Crooked River", "Colorado Ranger", "West of the Brazos" and "Fast on the Draw" — all released in 1950.
"The six movies were done in five weeks. It was economical to do it that way, but I never could remember who I was," Adams quipped in an interview on the Western Clippings website.
"We had six different scripts, but we shot all the scenes of the stagecoach together, then all of the ranch scenes, all at the same time. I had three or four wardrobe changes — a farmhouse dress, a stagecoach dress. I had a difficult time remembering who I was supposed to be. 'Am I the farm girl this time or the cowgirl?' Not that it made any real difference!"
After "Creature From the Black Lagoon", Adams made films at Universal including "6 Bridges to Cross" — the first time she was billed as Julie Adams — "The Private War of Major Benson", "Away All Boats" , "4 Girls in Town" and "Slim Carter".
Her other films included "The Underwater City", The Killer Inside Me , The Fifth Floor, Champions, Catchfire and Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center". Her last film credit was for a voiceover in Roman Polanski's Carnage.
On television, Adams' career spanned "The Colgate Comedy Hour" in 1955 to "CSI: NY" in 2007. In between, she appeared in three episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and on Westerns ("Maverick", "The Rifleman", "Bonanza"), crime dramas ("Mannix", "The Streets of San Francisco", "Police Woman"), mysteries ("Diagnosis Murder"), medical shows ("Dr. Kildare", "Marcus Welby, M.D."), comedies ("The Andy Griffith Show", "Too Close for Comfort"), primetime soaps ("Beverly Hills, 90210", "Melrose Place") and daytime serials ("General Hospital").
Adams said her favorite television gig was the 1971-72 NBC comedy "The Jimmy Stewart Show". Having known the actor for years, she was intrigued when she heard Stewart was going to star in a series in which he would play a folksy college professor. A lot of actresses wanted to portray his wife, but Adams had an edge.
"The day I tested for the part with Jimmy, I brought into play my genuine friendship and admiration I had for him as a person. I think that came through on the screen; we had nice chemistry together," Adams said in a 2013 interview with the Classic Film and TV Cafe blog.
"After the screen test, he gave me a little nod, and as I walked back to my dressing room, I thought, 'I think I have this part!' I was so thrilled. The show was not a success and only lasted 24 episodes. But, as I've often said, my idea of heaven was going to work with Jimmy Stewart every day for six months."
In 1955, Adams was cast with Ray Danton in the action film "The Looters". The two married that year and remained together until their divorce in 1981. They also appeared onscreen in the feature "Tarawa Beachhead" and in a 1972 segment of the series "Night Gallery", and he directed her in "Psychic Killer".
Adams and Danton had two children, Steve Danton, an actor and assistant director, and Mitchell Danton, a TV editor.
After her divorce, she entered into a long-term relationship with TV and film writer Ronald M. Cohen (Blue, Twilight's Last Gleaming). He died in 1998.
In 2011, Adams published her biography, 'The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections From the Black Lagoon'.
In the summer of 2013, Adams received Proclamations from both the LA City Council and the LA County Board of Supervisors for her long career and contributions to the film industry in Los Angeles. She continued acting into her nineties, her final role was in a 2018 short film inspired by her biography. She maintained contact with her fans through her website.
Julie is survived by sons Steve and Mitch from her marriage to actor/director Ray Danton, and by her daughter-in-laws Darragh and Louise, as well as four grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family asks a memorial donation is made to The Nature Conservancy or the World Wildlife Fund.
THOMAS "MORGAN" WOODWARD
September 16, 1925-February 23, 2019
Morgan Woodward passed away Friday morning at his home in California at the age of 93, confirmed by The Fielder House Museum in Arlington, Texas. They house a large portion of his film and television memorabilia in their "Woodward Room."
He was hugely influenced by cowboy cinema stars Buck Jones, Tom Tyler and Hoot Gibson. But when he was in college he studied and sang opera, before a sinus condition cut short that career. "I traded Grand Opera for Horse Opera," he recalled in a 2010 interview.
He was an American actor known for playing Shotgun Gibbs from “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp” which starred Hugh O’Brien. Woodward played a tall, cantankerous, shotgun-toting backwoodsman who eventually became the trusted deputy of lawman Wyatt Earp in his days as a Kansas and later Arizona lawman. Several episodes have comedy scenes about Gibbs and his beloved and supposedly highly intelligent mule, Roscoe. Though often overshadowed by the cool menace of Douglas Fowley's Doc Holliday, Woodward portrayed Gibbs as a solid, trustworthy, and more pragmatic partner to Earp.
Mr. Woodward was a guest of our festival in 1986 and 1999. Ray Nielsen reflected on Mr. Woodward's passing:
"One of my favorite character actors of all- time has passed away at age 93. Morgan Woodward is being remembered on much media for his few appearances on the original "Star Trek." I think of him most fondly for his nearly 20 guest roles on "Gunsmoke," his semi-regular part as Shotgun Gibbs on "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp," and his iconic non-speaking part as Boss Godfrey, the man with no eyes, in "Cool Hand Luke."
I first had the privilege of meeting Mr. Woodward around 1985 when I was on Naval Reserve duty in Dallas. He was playing Punk Anderson on the "Dallas" TV series at the time, and I happened to bump into him in a local hotel. That led to his first trip to the Memphis Film Festival in 1986. He honored us with a return visit in 1999. He was a gentleman in every respect and will be sorely missed."
He is also known for his recurring role on the soap opera “Dallas” as Marvin "Punk" Anderson. He also played the silent, sunglasses-wearing "man with no eyes", Boss Godfrey (the Walking Boss) in “Cool Hand Luke” and has the most guest appearances on “Gunsmoke”, according to "Gunsmoke" by Barabas.
Woodward was born in Fort Worth, Texas, the third of five sons of Dr. Valin Woodward and his wife, Frances McKinley. He grew up in Arlington, Texas, graduating from high school in 1944. After serving in the US Army Air Corps during World War II, he enrolled at North Texas Agriculture College, where he was active in the theater. In 1948, he transferred to the University of Texas, from which he graduated with a BBA in Finance. He went on to attend law school at UT. During that time, he hosted a local radio talk show and sang with a barbershop quartet and a dance band.
Woodward also made multiple guest appearances on "Wagon Train" between 1958 and 1965.
Woodward guest starred in two episodes of the original series of "Star Trek" as two different characters. In the first-season episode 'Dagger of the Mind', Woodward plays Dr. Simon van Gelder, on which he was the first victim of Mr. Spock's telepathic "Vulcan mind meld", a deputy director of a facility for the criminally insane. In articles in the magazines Starlog and Entertainment Weekly, Woodward called the role of Dr. Simon Van Gelder the most physically and emotionally exhausting acting job of his career.
Desperate to get out of Westerns and expand his range, he was cast against type for this episode and was so well regarded that he was cast in 'The Omega Glory' in "Star Trek's" second season. Playing Van Gelder did take its toll on his personal life, as he confesses that for three afterwards he was anti-social towards friends and family. He is grateful that this episode opened up whole new opportunities for him.
In the second-season episode, 'The Omega Glory', Woodward portrays Captain Ron Tracey, the commander of the starship USS Exeter, a sister ship to the USS Enterprise.
His prolific television career also included "Bonanza", "The Waltons", "The Lucy Show" (with John Wayne guest-starring), "Hill Street Blues", and "Logan's Run".
On the big screen, Woodward played supporting roles in Disney's "The Great Locomotive Chase"(1956), "The Gun Hawk" (1963), opposite Audie Murphy in "Gunpoint" (1966), as a bad man dragged out of town in James Stewart and Henry Fonda's "Firecreek" (1968) and on the Alan Smithee pseudonym "Western Death of a Gunfighter".
Later he appeared in John Cassavetes' "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie", Jack Starrett's "A Small Town in Texas" (1976) and "Final Chapter: Walking Tall" (1977), "Which Way is Up?" opposite Richard Pryor and the romantic comedy "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" (1985).
In "Cool Hand Luke", his intimidating character never said a word as he oversaw, with rifle or cane in hand, the chain gang prison which Paul Newman had joined. They have a memorable shocking showdown in the film's climax.
"Even today "Cool Hand Luke" plays every week and I get a residual. And everybody remembers 'The Man with No Eyes.' It's very gratifying," he said in 2016. Woodward's role in Cool Hand Luke was so memorable that decades later he spoofed his 'Boss' character in an episode of "Dukes of Hazard" — trademark mirrored glasses and all.
After 250 TV and film appearances, Woodward ended his career with "The X-Files" episode 'Aubrey', playing an elderly killer who has passed down murderous DNA to his grandchild and as a man in an iron lung on 'Millennium'.
For his contribution to the Western genre, he received the Golden Lariat Award at the National Western Film Festival, and the prestigious Golden Boot Award from the Hollywood Motion Picture and Television Fund.
.In 1963, Woodward recorded "Heartache City" backed with "An Encouraging Word" (CRC Charter 15).
In 1986, he was inducted into the Order of West Range of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
In 2009, Woodward was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
This page is to honor the passings of our favorite stars of stage, screen and television. Some of the stars we have had the honor of their presence at our festival.
Some of these stars were behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera. They will be missed.
(Please note: Passings are changed month to month.)