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"Would you believe..."

- as Maxwell Smart from Get Smart (1965–1970)

Instead of taking a large paycheck per episode ($12,500 per week) of Get Smart (1965), Adams decided to take a smaller salary and 33% share. It paid off in spades,
the show has been running in syndication for decades.

Don Adams (April 13th, 1923 – September 25th, 2005) was an American actor, comedian and director. In his five decades on television, he was best known as Maxwell Smart (Agent 86) in the television situation comedy Get Smart (1965–70, 1995), which he also sometimes directed and wrote. Adams won three consecutive Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Smart (1967–69). He provided the voices for the animated series Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales (1963–66) and Inspector Gadget (1983–86) and Inspector Gadget's Field Trip (1996) as their title character until 1999.

Adams was born Donald James Yarmy in Manhattan, New York, son of William Yarmy, and his wife, Consuelo (Deiter). Adams and his brother Richard (who later became prominent as actor Dick Yarmy) were each raised in the religion of one parent: Don in the Catholic faith of their mother, and Dick in the Jewish faith of their father. Both Adams father and brother would make appearances on Get Smart. His older sister, Gloria Burton would write a few episodes and of cource his cousin, Robert Karvelas played Larabee.

Dropping out of New York City's DeWitt Clinton High School, Adams worked as a theater usher. During World War II, he joined the United States Marine Corps, at the age of 16, by lying about his age. Adams participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific Theater of Operations. His combat service was short-lived; he was shot and contracted blackwater fever, a serious complication of malaria, known for a 90% rate of fatality. He was evacuated and then hospitalized for more than a year at a Navy hospital in Wellington, New Zealand. After his recovery, he served as a Marine drill instructor in the United States.

Following his discharge, Adams held a series of jobs. During a Canadian television interview, he said that he had falsified college credentials and an engineering background to be hired as an engineer designing underground sewers. His lack of training was not discovered for six months.

He later worked as a comic, taking the stage name of Adams after marrying singer Adelaide (Dell) Efantis, who performed as Adelaide Adams. They had four daughters, and Adams also worked as a commercial artist and restaurant cashier to help support his family. When they divorced, he kept Adams as his stage name because acting auditions were often held in alphabetical order.

Adams' work on television began in 1954, when he won on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts with a stand-up comedy act written by boyhood friend Bill Dana. In addition to appearing on numerous comedy, variety, and dramatic series, Adams had a role on the NBC sitcom The Bill Dana Show (1963–65 below), as a bumbling hotel detective named Byron Glick – a character Adams created that was the precursor to the role he would play as "Maxwell Smart" on Get Smart. His famous "clippy" voice characterization was an exaggeration of the speaking style of actor William Powell. The hotel manager on The Bill Dana Show was played by Jonathan Harris who later did a guest role on Get Smart and would go on to play Dr. Zachary Smith of the science fiction television series Lost in Space.

Get Smart creators Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, prompted by producers Dan Melnick and David Susskind, wrote Get Smart as the comedic answer to the successful 1960s spy television dramas such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Avengers, I Spy and others. They were asked to write a spoof that combined elements from two of the most popular film series at the time: the James Bond and Pink Panther (Inspector Clouseau) movies.

Get Smart had been written for Tom Poston, to be piloted on ABC; when ABC turned it down, the show was picked up by NBC, which cast Adams in the role because he was already under contract. Adams was wary of committing to any show, but once he heard that Mel Brooks, Buck Henry, and Leonard Stern were involved, he agreed to do it without even reading a script. When Get Smart debuted in 1965, it was an immediate hit. Barbara Feldon co-starred as Max's young and attractive partner, Agent 99. Feldon had a great chemistry with Adams throughout the show's run, despite a 10-year age difference, and they became life long friends during and after the run of the show.

In addition to acting, Adams took an active interest in the production of the show and directed several episodes. Adams had chosen a low salary combined with a one-third ownership stake in Get Smart during the show's production, and received a regular income for many years due to the show's popularity in reruns. He was nominated for Emmys four seasons in a row, between 1966 and 1969, for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series. He won the award three times. The show moved to CBS for its final season, with ratings declining, as spy series went out of fashion. Get Smart was canceled in 1970, after 138 episodes.

Adams was happy about the show's cancellation, since he wanted to move on to other projects. His efforts after Get Smart were less successful, including the comedy series The Partners (1971–72), a game show called Don Adams' Screen Test (1975–76) and three attempts to revive the Get Smart series in the 1980s. Even his movie, The Nude Bomb, was a box-office failure. Adams had been typecast as Maxwell Smart and was unable to escape the image, though he did have success doing voice work.

Adams was the voice of the title character in Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales (1963–66), but he was more famous as the voice of Inspector Gadget in the initial run of that television series (1983–86). He even voiced himself in animated form for a guest shot in an episode of Hanna-Barbera's The New Scooby-Doo Movies, "The Exterminator," which first aired on CBS October 6th, 1973. He later went on to voice the character of Principal Hickley in the Disney cartoon, Pepper Ann.

He 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 would reprise Maxwell Smart on a new version of Get Smart for Fox in 1995, which co-starred Barbara Feldon and Andy Dick as Max and 99's only son. The show was canceled after only seven episodes.

In 2003, Adams joined a Get Smart tribute at the Museum of Television and Radio. Also appearing at the convention were surviving stars of Get Smart: Barbara Feldon, Bernie Kopell and Dick Gautier.

Adams was an avid gambler; according to his longtime friend Bill Dana, "He could be very devoted to his family if you reminded him about it, [but] Don's whole life was focused around gambling." Adams could always be found at the racetrack or playing cards at the Playboy Mansion (below) with friends Hugh Hefner, Don Rickles and James Caan, among others.

Adams died on September 25th, 2005 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. He suffered from lymphoma and a lung infection. Before he died, he joked about not wanting a mournful funeral, preferring, he said, to have his friends get together "and bring me back to life." This was a line he said to Agent 99 in a season two episode of Get Smart.

Among his eulogists were his decades-long friends Barbara Feldon, Don Rickles, James Caan and Bill Dana, and his son-in-law, actor Jim Beaver (Whitney Ellsworth on the HBO Western drama series Deadwood). Beaver was widower of Adams's actress-daughter Cecily Adams, who died of lung cancer a year before, at the age of 46. An actress, casting director, and lyricist Cecily is well known to fans of Star Trek for portraying Ishka (also known as "Moogie"), mother of the Ferengi brothers Rom and Quark in the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. She also appeared in guest roles on a variety of television series including Just Shoot Me!, Party of Five, with her father in Check It Out! and Get Smart Again and Murphy Brown. Adams friend Don Rickles' son Larry was also a writer for a time on Murphy Brown.

Although Adams had expressed a desire to be buried with military rites at Arlington National Cemetery, he was instead interred in Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. Adams was survived by three of his four daughters from his first marriage, two children from his second marriage, and a daughter from his third marriage. He was also survived by five grandchildren (including Cecily's daughter Madeline who was born in 2001) and three great-grandchildren. His son, Sean Adams, died at age 35 of brain tumor in 2006, a year after Don Adams' death.

Cecily Adams

Cecily April Adams (February 6th, 1958 – March 3rd, 2004) was an American actress, casting director, and lyricist. Adams was born in Jamaica, Queens, New York, the daughter of comic actor Don Adams and singer Adelaide Efantis. She attended Beverly Hills High School and the University of California at Irvine. She acted in high school and college and in 1983 joined the Hollywood theatre company Theatre West.

Adams is well known in the Neat Stuff Universe for portraying Ishka (also known as "Moogie"), mother of the Ferengi brothers Rom and Quark in the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (replacing Andrea Martin of SCTV fame). Even though she played Armin Shimerman's mother in DS9 (1993) he was actually only nine years older. She also played Aron Eisenberg's grandmother in the same series even though she was only eleven years older.

Cecily also appeared in DS9, in What You Leave Behind, part II. In this second part of the series finale, we see a long party scene with the extended cast, held at Vic's, where the series’ stars appear without their makeup on (as humans) during the party. Cecily is seen in a red dress sitting at the table on the right, just as Vic returns to the stage during his song, "The way you look tonight" and again dancing just behind Kasidy when Sisko leaves the party.

Cecily appeared in guest roles on a variety of television series including Just Shoot Me!, Murphy Brown, and Party of Five, and with her father in his television series Check It Out!, a Canadian television sitcom, which aired on CTV from September 1985 to April 1988. The series also aired in the United States in syndication and on the USA Network. Cecily, along with her sister Stacey, also appeared in the television movie Get Smart Again, continuing the Get Smart tradition of including family members on the show. On the original series Don Adams' cousin Robert Karvelas played Control agent, Larabee. Adams’ brother, comedian Dick Yarmy, also appeared in two episodes as did his father, William Yarmy, and daughter, Caroline Adams. Adams also wrote two episodes of Get Smart: "The King Lives" and part two of “To Sire with Love.” with his older sister Gloria Burton. In another Star Trek connection, John de Lancie (Q) played a KAOS mole in Get Smart Again.

Cecily played a lead role in the 1991 independent feature film little secrets. She was also a talented lyricist and with her collaborator David Burke wrote pop songs as well as commercial jingles and television theme songs.

Cecily Adams was married to actor/writer Jim Beaver (Whitney Ellsworth on the HBO Western drama series Deadwood) in 1989; their daughter Madeline was born in 2001. Adams died of lung cancer on March 3rd, 2004, at the age of 46, in Los Angeles, California. Her husband's memoir, Life's That Way, details her last few months. She was cremated and her ashes scattered at Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California, and at Franklin Canyon Park in Beverly Hills, California.

Cecilys' half sister Stacey is the daughter of Don Adams and dancer Dorothy Bracken, Stacey began her career as an actress. She worked briefly as a casting director in partnership with Cecily, then branched out into production work. She worked as an executive assistant to actor/director/producer Ken Olin, then as a vice president of development at Paramount Television and the CBS network. Cousin Claudia Yarmy is known for her work on CSI: Miami (2002), Scorched (2003) and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000).


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