October 17, 2008 10:50 AM
Edie Adams was never a big, big TV star—nor a big, big any other kind of star—but it ultimately turned out that she was best-known for her work on the tube, not only as the sidekick of husband Ernie Kovacs, but as the pitchwoman for Muriel cigars in the 1960s.
True stardom always seemed to evade Edie, who died at age 81 Wednesday of cancer and pneumonia, even though she was possessed of the magic combination that would seem to guarantee mega-success: overt sexuality, innate intelligence and immense likability.
After triumphs on Broadway in "Wonderful Town" and "Little Abner" (for which she won a Tony Award) and a regular role on her husband's TV show in the '50s, she pretty much settled in as part of a team, Kovacs' better half. Then, after the comedian's tragic death in 1962 in a freak auto accident, her career went through a surge—supporting roles in several big movies and her own Emmy-nominated ABC variety series (one season). After that, it sort of died down to a slow simmer, and Edie went on to become one of those comforting familiar faces always popping up on TV. Who could have guessed that the Muriel cigar commercials would be her most enduring vehicle?
Here's a treat: Edie times 3 in this Muriel spot from 1965: