Who was this famous stage and screen actress and what was her connection to Nanticoke?
It was announced in the Sept 17, 1950 edition of the Sunday Independent Edith Enke, was named “Miss Television of 1950.” Edith professionally known as Edie Adams, was born April 16, 1927, lived in Nanticoke and attended the State Street School. Adams was a comedienne, actress, singer and businesswoman. She was a Tony Award winner and an Emmy Award nominee. The Miss U.S. Television title that launched Adams’ career, was a series of contests sponsored by the DuMont Television Network and its affiliates in 1950. The contest searched for the woman "with the most outstanding talent and beauty.”
Edith was the daughter of Sheldon Enke and Ada Adams Enke a former Nanticoke school teacher. They lived on Prospect Street. Although there is no conclusive evidence in our files, she may have been a niece to A. A. Enke, president, of the Nanticoke National Bank who was listed in this issue’s story regarding the bank’s history.
Edith was destined for stardom after winning the title, as she started appearing on shows for the DuMont Network. One of those shows was hosted by a cigar smoking innovative comedian, Ernie Kovacs. The two met in 1952 and married in 1954.
Her stage appearances included Wonderful Town for which she received the Best Newcomer Award, Li’l Abner; The Merry Widow; Sweet Bird of Youth and Free as a Bird. In 1960, she turned her talents toward the big screen and appeared in films such as The Apartment starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine; Lover Come Back starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson; Love with the Proper Stranger starring Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen, and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World starring a host of Hollywood A-listers.
She then went on to establish a presence on popular TV shows such as those hosted by Jack Paar and Dinah Shore. She frequently made appearances on the Lucy Desi Comedy Hour. But it would be a television commercial for the Muriel Cigar Company in which Adams slowly stated, “Why don’t you pick one up and smoke it sometime” that made her one of the most recognizable celebrities.
Adams died in Los Angeles, California on October 15, 2008 at the age of 81. She was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills.