Don Adams, actor, comedian and director, Died at 82


Donald James Yarmy professionally known as Don Adams died on September 25, 2005 at the age of 82, he was an American actor, comedian and director.

Born on April 13, 1923 in Manhattan, New York, son of William Yarmy, and his wife, Consuelo (Deiter).

Adams and his brother Richard (who later became an actor, known as Dick Yarmy) were each raised in the religion of one parent: Don in the Roman Catholic faith of their mother, and Dick in the Jewish faith of their father.

Adams participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific Theater of Operations.

His combat service was short-lived; he was shot and contractedblackwater 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. 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.

When Get Smart debuted in 1965, it was an immediate hit. Barbara Feldon co-starred as Max’s young and attractive partner (later wife), Agent 99, where she had a great chemistry with Adams throughout the show’s run, despite a 10-year age difference, and they became best friends during and after.

Divorced and remarried (to dancer Dorothy Bracken ), Adams in 1963 reunited with Bill Dana on The Bill Dana Show (1963), playing inept hotel detective Byron Glick, a forerunner to his most famous characterization.

NBC placed Adams under contract and gave him the starring role in the Mel Brooks and Buck Henry spy spoof Get Smart (1965).

As the bumbling yet intrepid secret agent Maxwell Smart, Adams was an instant success. With his alluring straight-woman partner Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon), Adams became a comic icon of the 1960s, popularizing dozens of catch-phrases that still resound today: “Would you believe?”, “Missed it by THAT much!”, “…and LOVING it!” and “Sorry about that, Chief.”

In 1985, he returned to series television in a Canadian sitcom, Check It Out (1985), in which he played the manager of a supermarket.

The show was popular enough to run for three seasons on American TV, but it mainly provided a paycheck for Adams and a co-starring role for a pre-NYPD Blue (1993) Gordon Clapp.

His health declined in later years with the onset of bone lymphoma, but took a precipitous turn for the worse following the death in 2004 of his daughter, actress-casting director Cecily Adams.

He died from a lung infection at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills.