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If there's someone out there who reads these interview stories I've put together, he or she might decided there was an awful Jack Major jinx at work. Nick Adams, the subject of this page, died 13 months after our interview, making him at least the third celebrity to pass away unexpectedly after having a conversation with me.

The cause of Adams' death — at least, the version I read — was an overdose of drugs he was taking for a nervous disorder. That he was a high-strung individual is obvious in the story that follows:

Akron Beacon Journal, January 8, 1967
Nick Adams isn’t the kind of guy a girl would take home to meet her parents.

He’s loud, irreverent, coarse — the biggest mouth in town. He shouts what other tactfully whisper. He can be a complete clod/
If it weren’t for acting, Nick Adams probably would be a pool hall bum in Jersey City, New Jersey.

If . . .

But Adams tried acting. “What did I have to lose? Anything was better than staying in Jersey City!”

AFTER YEARS of steady, sometimes painful, and often embarrrassing effort, Adams has made a name for himself in the land of big mouths and egomaniacs. He outhustled the Hollywood hustlers. He became a star. Sort of.

Nick Adams a star?

No one would have believed it in 1950, the year the cocky Adams arrived in Hollywood. He soon became one of the most laughed at kids in town.

He didn’t mind . . . because if people were laughing, he reasoned, they must be paying attention. Attention. That’s all that really mattered. What people did after they noticed him wasn’t important.

Like the time Adams was an usher at a Hollywood theater and put his name on the marquee for a sneak preview. He figured some of the bigwigs in attendance might spot it. They did. So what if Adams lost his job? He didn’t want to be an usher, anyway.

ADAMS HAS COME a long way since 1950, but success hasn’t changed his style. He’s still a pop-off, and enjoys being obnoxious just for the sake of being obnoxious. The only thing that bugs him is seeing his name misspelled.

He phoned the Beacon Journal last week to plug a three-part television film that will be shown on NBC’s “World of Color,” beginning tonight at 7:30. It’s a Civil War story — “Willie and the Yank” — and in it Adams plays a tough Union sergeant.

Adams came on strong during the interview. His pitch was high and hard, much like a rabble-rousing prisoner trying to talk other inmages into a riot. He sprinkled — no, sprayed — the conversation with four-letter words, and frequently said things that couldn’t be printed — anywhere. It was a weird experience.

AMONG THINGS that are printable was elaborate praise Adams heaped upon the late Walt Disney, who produced “Willie and the Yank.”

“He was one of the few people who really cared about television. We mae ‘Willie and the Yank’ just like a feture film. It took us 12 weeks to shoot it.”

Adams feels Disney will be difficult to replace, but not impossible.

“Sure, he was a strong man. He was on top of everything at his studio. But he also had a knack for hiring the right people for the job. I think these people will carry on very well without Disney. For one thing, I think Disney instilled in them a sense of pride.”
However, Adams ad little good to say about other studios in Hollywood, particularly those connected with television.

“They’re getting to $&%!?& cheap in this town. That’s why I’ve done so little television lately. Not many shows are willing to meet my price.”

THE ONLY television show he has done this season is “The Monroes.” His epiode hasn’t yet aired.

Last season he did a guest shot on “The Wild, Wild West,” but only as a favor to one of his buddies, Robert Conrad, the star of the show.

“Don Rickles was supposed to do the program, but he got sick, so Conrad asked me to take his place. We began shooting the same day I got the script. I didn’t know at the time my character was such a $#&! queer little runt. If Conrad weren’t such a buddy, I’d never have done the part.”

Maybe Conrad was getting even. Earlier he had done a favor for Adams by taking a part in “Young Dillinger,” a film Adams helped produce.

“If nothing else, we have fun making that one,” recalled Adams. “Maybe too much fun. I played Dillinger, Conrad was Pretty Boy Floyd, and John Ashley was Baby Face Nelson. It was too much. Like one scene we pulled a dinky little hold up in a pawn shop — I don’t think we got more than $25 — and I was supposed to use a machine gun.

“Well, Conrad and Ashley said they’d have to have machine guns, too. When we finally got around to filming the scene, there we were, three guys with machine guns, pumping lead into some poor schmuck, all for twenty-five bucks.”

ADAMS MADE “Young Dillinger” to end a slump that had plagued him since 1963. That was his best year — he received an Academy Award nomination for his supporting performance in “Twilight of Honor,” and delivered a strong, un-Adams-like performance in the fine war film, “The Hook.”

“But I also had a television flop, ‘Saints and Sinners,’ and when that show was canceled, I was considered a loser. Nobody wanted to hear about me.”

So he went into producing. He made “Young Dillinger” in 1965 and recently finished “The Killing Bottle” in Japan.

“ ‘The Klling Bottle’ is a spy thing. I hope lots of people see it so maybe I can get my career moving again.”

ADAMS STILL works. He just finished “The Devil’s Brigade” with William Holden, and will soon begin “The Green Berets” with John Wayne, but he wants to be busier.

His problem is financial, and stems from divorce.

“I finally learned my lesson, but it’s kind of late. My wife is divorcing me for the second time. Last time she got half of everything I owned, plus $1,500-a-month alimony.

“We got married again, but a few weeks ago she tossed me out of our $150,000 house and sued for divorce. Now I’m living in a $100-a-month apartment with John Ashley. I’m down to one suit and one pair of shoes.

“Hell, I could get by on $20 a week. I’ve done it before. But I still have to work hard to meet that #$%&#$ alimony payment.

“I sure hope Ronald Regan changes the #$%&#$ divorce laws out here. They’re murder. A man is treated like a dog. Maybe worse. I know one thing — I’m never getting married again!”

ADAMS, YOU MAY recall, announced his first divorce on a late night television program. He had called his wife, Carol, in the afternoon and told her to watch the show, and then she and a few million other people heard Adams describe his marital problems.

As usual, Adams simply wanted the attention.

 
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