Monday, April 9, 2012


Julie Adams nearly turned down the role that has made her a legend among sci-fi and horror films fans: Kay Lawrence in 1954's "Creature From the Black Lagoon."

But who could blame her? As a contract player at Universal six decades ago, she had played opposite Arthur Kennedy in 1951's "Bright Victory," Jimmy Stewart in the 1952 western "Bend of the River" and heartthrob Tyrone Power in 1953's "Mississippi Gambler." And now the studio wanted her for a black-and-white 3-D horror film that was sort of a fishy version of "Beauty and the Beast."

"I thought 'Creature From the Black Lagoon'! What?"' recalled the 85-year-old actress during a recent interview at her comfortable Los Feliz home. "I thought about turning it down and then I thought if I do that I'll go on suspension and I won't get paid. Then I thought it might be fun, and of course it was."

It was more than just fun. Adams is much in demand at conventions and autograph shows because of her iconic role as the girlfriend of ichthyologist Dr. David Reed (Richard Carlson) who, while on a scientific expedition down the Amazon, becomes the object of affection of a tall, amphibious creature called the Gill-Man. Adams recalled that her form-fitting one-piece white bathing suit caused quite a stir because it "pulled up a little bit on the upper leg," she said laughing. "We were quite risqué."

The actress recently released her autobiography, "The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections From the Black Lagoon," which she wrote with Mitchell Danton, her youngest of two sons with her late former husband, actor-director Ray Danton.

This Friday through Sunday, she'll be appearing at the "Monsterpalooza" convention at the Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel and Convention Center and the following weekend she'll be back at the same location for the "Hollywood Show." In May, Adams is heading to Louisville, Ky., for "WonderFest" and in June it's off to "Monster Bash" in Butler, Pa.

In attending these conventions, she's realized that the film appeals to all age groups. "One man came up one day with his little girl. He said, 'She wants a picture of the creature. She loves the creature.' I said 'Wasn't she scared? And he said, 'Oh, no. She plays creature in the bathtub!'"

Born Betty May Adams in Waterloo, Iowa, she grew up in Arkansas. An only child, she and her alcoholic parents moved from small town to small town until she finally had some stability in her life when she went to live with her aunt and uncle in Little Rock, Ark.

The movies were an escape for her, but that wasn't the reason she caught the acting bug. When she was in the third grade production of "Hansel and Gretel," someone forgot their lines. "I ad-libbed and saved the day," she said. "I felt this flush of power. I had this wonderful feeling and I thought I wanted to have more of that feeling."

It wasn't long after she moved from Little Rock to Long Beach to live with an aunt following high school that she got her chance. She was working as a secretary when her aunt, who had bathing suit stores in Long Beach and knew some talent scouts, arranged an interview with one atWarner Bros.She didn't get a job, but was given some sage advice: Lose the Southern twang.

She landed a tiny, uncredited role in the 1949 Betty Hutton musical, "Red, Hot and Blue." Adams segued to doing seven quickie westerns starring James Ellison and Russell Hayden before getting signed to Universal, where she joined such young contract players as Piper Laurie, Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis.

"Who could have asked for anything better? I was cast in movies with great actors, with great leading men," she said of her career.

"It was a great learning experience to work with James Stewart," said Adams, who nearly 20 years after "Bend of the River" played his wife on the actor's short-lived NBC sitcom, "The Jimmy Stewart Show."

"I remember so vividly playing a scene with Jimmy Stewart. I was in the back of a covered wagon and we were doing this little talk in the wilderness. They did his close-up first. I was looking at him and thinking, 'How does he do that?' He is not 'doing' anything and yet everything is there."

After leaving Universal, she continued acting in films including, Dennis Hopper's controversial 1971 "The Last Movie," and guest-starred in such popular TV shows as "Bonanza" and "Murder, She Wrote" (she played the role of Angela Lansbury's friend, real estate agent Eve Simpson).

She also does theater across the country, including Eugene O'Neill's masterwork, "Long Day's Journey Into Night," in which she played the morphine-addicted wife of an actor. "I really thought with that character I kind of said to my mother, 'Come on out and have your say.' She did. It was kind of cathartic in a way."

UPDATE: Julie Adams sadly died on Feburary 3, 2019 at the age of 92.



  1. Lovely post, lovely actress. I like learning about the nuts-and-bolts experiences of working actors and actress, not necessarily all the star treatment, but the mechanics of the job. So great that she attends these "monster" conventions and still does theatre. I hope I can catch up with her book sometime.

  2. Thanks for the information! My hubby loves her and now I know we might be able to see her in Butler, PA

  3. What an actress! I loved her in "Cheyenne" and "Maverick".

  4. Hi- Does anyone know how I may get intouch with Ms Adams to purchase an autographed photo (made out to me) of her in a scene from THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON?

    PLEASE email me at

    PS- Is Ms Adams the ONLY living cast member from this classic film?

  5. Julie Adams (born Betty May Adams; October 17, 1926 – February 3, 2019) RIP

  6. OH NO!!!! reading this last post,she passed?So terrible to hear..She was amazing in her"Hayday" and one of my favorites,especially in Bend of the River and every western she starred.Dont even see a quality film anymore,must recall Giants walked this earth and she sure was one of those.I could set and ramble off Films,Tv series where she appeared,what a KNOCK OUT and fit the motif perfect.She stood alongside the best and was herself,RIP Miss Adams....

  7. Just reading the last post,says she passed away?Many of my favorite western films and series,she starred.She was lovely and fit the motif perfect.RockHudson,GlenFord,Jimmy Stewart,Arthur Kennedy and the list goes on,she stood with the finest film ever seen, and was herself.I remember in my youth,seeing her in "That scene"in THE LAWLESS BREED,my eyes about popped out.WHAT A BEAUTY,and so sad to hear of her passing.We will never see quality film as she and her generation crafted.Class of American tv and film,RIP Miss Adams,gone but never forgotten..