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Don Adams

Don Adams, born Donald James Yarmy, (1923-2005) was a New York City-born actor best known for his role as Maxwell Smart (Agent 86) in the TV situation comedy Get Smart (1965–1970, 1995), for which he also directed and wrote. Adams won three Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Smart.

Adams was born to a Hungarian Jewish father and an Irish Catholic mother; he was raised Catholic. Adams served with the United States Marine Corps during World War II as a drill instructor and later in the Pacific Theater. He was the only member of his platoon to survive the Battle of Guadalcanal, but he contracted malaria during the invasion and nearly died of blackwater fever.

He later worked as a comic and mimic, taking the stage name of Adams after marrying singer Adelaide Adams. He changed his name to Adams from Yarmy because he got tired of being last during alphabetical auditions.

His work on television began in 1954, when he won Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts with a stand-up comedy act written by boyhood friend Bill Dana. He appeared on numerous comedy, variety, and dramatic series before landing the role of Maxwell Smart.

Adams's projects after Get Smart were less successful, including the comedy series The Partners and three attempts to revive the Get Smart series in the 1980s. He continued to make the majority of his income from his work on stage and in clubs. However, he astutely chose the option of co-ownership of the Get Smart property over an increased salary during the series, thus guaranteeing a regular income stream.

He also worked as a voice actor in Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales (1963–1966), but he was more famous as the voice of Inspector Gadget in the initial run of that television series (1983–1985) and the Christmas Special, as well as in later reprises. He also attempted a situation-comedy comeback in Canada with Check it Out! in 1985; the show ran for three years in Canada, but it was not successful in the United States.

He stated in interviews that his famous clippy voice characterization was based on, and an exaggeration of, the speaking style of actor William Powell. Occasionally, he also enjoyed doing a more explicit impersonation of Ronald Colman.

He was married (and divorced) three times and is survived by six of his seven children. He died in Los Angeles, California at the age of 82 from a sudden lung infection following a long battle with bone lymphoma. He is interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in the Westwood Village area of Los Angeles. Other source such as Findagrave [www.findagrave.com] have Adams listed as being buried at Hollywood Forever.

He was the father of the late actress Cecily Adams.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2005.

Don Adams Facts

BirthdayApril 13, 1923
BirthplaceNew York, New York, USA
Date of deathSeptember 25, 2005 (Beverly Hills, California, USA, age 82)
Height5' 9" (1m75)  How tall is Don Adams compared to you?

Selected Filmography

The Truman Show
Once Upon A Texas Train
Iron Man 2
Alvin & the Chipmunks
Under Siege
Punch-Drunk Love
Get Smart Again
Child's Play 2
Aloha Scooby-Doo!
Coming to America
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