Nick Adams (actor)

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This article is about the Hollywood film and television actor of the 1950s and 1960s. For other uses of this name, see Nick Adams (disambiguation).
Nick Adams
Nick Adams The Rebel 1959.JPG
Nick Adams in a publicity photo for his U.S. television series The Rebel, 1959.
Born Nicholas Aloysius Adamschock
(1931-07-10)July 10, 1931
Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died February 7, 1968(1968-02-07) (aged 36)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Paraldehyde and promazine intoxication
Resting place
Saints Cyril and Methodius Ukrainian Cemetery
Berwick, Pennsylvania
GPS: 41.06450 - 76.25790
Occupation Actor, screenwriter
Years active 1952–1968
Spouse(s) Carol Nugent (m. 1959–68)
Children 2

Nick Adams (July 10, 1931 – February 7, 1968) was an American film and television actor and screenwriter. He was noted for his roles in several Hollywood films during the 1950s and 1960s along with his starring role in the ABC television series The Rebel (1959). Decades after Adams' death from a prescription drug overdose at the age of 36, his widely publicized friendships with James Dean and Elvis Presley would stir speculation about both his private life and the circumstances of his death. In an Allmovie synopsis for Adams' last film, reviewer Dan Pavlides wrote, "Plagued by personal excesses, he will be remembered just as much for what he could have done in cinema as what he left behind."[1]

Early life[edit]

Adams was born Nicholas Aloysius Adamshock in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania to Peter Adamshock and Catherine Kutz. His father was a Ukrainian-born anthracite coal miner. In 1958 he told columnist Hedda Hopper, "We lived in those little company houses -- they were terrible. We had to buy from the company store and were always in debt and could never leave."[2]

The family did leave when he was five years old, after Adams' uncle was killed in a mining accident. "My father piled all our belongings into an old jalopy, with our bedding on top", Adams recalled. "We didn't know where we were going. He started driving, and ran out of gas and money in Jersey City, New Jersey at Audubon Park. A man came over and started talking to us, a Mr. Cohn. He said to my father 'You look like you need a job,' and my father said 'I do'." Adams' father was given a job as janitor of an apartment building along with living quarters in the basement. Eventually, they moved to Van Nostrand Avenue between Ocean Avenue and Rutgers Avenue. His mother worked for Western Electric in Kearny, New Jersey.

While still in high school Adams was offered a playing position in minor league baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals but turned it down because he was uninterested in the low pay. He briefly worked as a bat boy for the Jersey City Giants, a local minor league team. Some sources recount Adams made money as a teenager by hustling pool games.

Early acting in New York[edit]

In 1948, while visiting New York, 17-year-old Nick Adamshock wandered into an audition for a play called The Silver Tassie and met Jack Palance (who was understudying for Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire). When Palance, whose father was also a Ukrainian coal miner from Northeastern Pennsylvania, asked why he wanted to act, Adams replied, "For the money." Palance introduced him to the director of The Silver Tassie as Nick Adams. After the director declined to hire him as an extra, Palance sent Adams to a nearby junior theater group where he got his first acting job playing the role of Muff Potter in Tom Sawyer. While trying to get a role in the play Mister Roberts, Adams had a brief encounter with Henry Fonda who advised him to get some training as an actor.

Adams' friends teased him about his acting ambitions. "Everybody thought I was crazy", he recalled. "My father said, 'Nick, get a trade, be a barber or something.' I said, 'But Pop, I want to do something where I can make lots of money. You can't make lots of money with just a trade.'"

After a year of unpaid acting in New York, Adams hitchiked to Los Angeles.[2]

Hollywood career[edit]

Struggling actor[edit]

Adams was an avid reader of fan magazines and came to believe he could meet agents and directors by being seen at the Warners Theater in Beverly Hills. He got a job there as doorman, usher and maintenance man, which included changing the notices on the theater marquee. He was fired after he put his own name up as a publicity stunt.

Adams' earliest reported paid acting job in Los Angeles was a stage role at the Las Palmas Theater in a comedy called Mr. Big Shot. Although he was paid about $60 a week, Adams had to pay $175 for membership in Actors Equity. He also earned $25 one night at the Mocambo nightclub, filling in for Pearl Bailey who had fallen ill. Eight years later Hedda Hopper told Adams she recalled writing about him at the time and he replied by reciting back to her, "Nick Adams, gas station attendant from New Jersey, did an impersonation of Jimmy Cagney and a scene from Glass Menagerie."

After three years of struggle and optimistic self-promotion, his first film role came in 1951, an uncredited one-liner as a Western Union delivery boy in George Seaton's Somebody Loves Me (1952). This allowed him to join the Screen Actors Guild, but he was unable to find steady acting work, even when "creatively" claiming he had appeared with Palance in The Silver Tassie in New York. Undaunted, Adams joined a theater workshop run by Arthur Kennedy. In January 1952, Adams enlisted in the United States Coast Guard.

Supporting actor[edit]

Two and a half years later, in June 1954 his ship docked in Long Beach harbor and after a brash audition for director John Ford during which Adams did impressions of James Cagney and other celebrities while dressed in his Coast Guard uniform, he took his accumulated leave and appeared as Seaman Reber in the 1955 film version of Mister Roberts. Adams then completed his military service, returned to Los Angeles and at the age of 23, based on his work in Mister Roberts, was able to secure a powerful agent and signed with Warner Brothers.[2]

Adams had a small role (as Chick) in Rebel Without a Cause (1955). Also that year Adams played the role of "Bomber" the paper boy in the widely popular film adaptation of Picnic (1955) which was mostly filmed on location in Kansas and starred William Holden, Kim Novak and Susan Strasberg. He was not perceived by casting directors as tall or handsome enough for leading roles but during the late 1950s Adams had supporting roles in several successful television productions including one episode of Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958) starring Steve McQueen and films such as Our Miss Brooks (1956), No Time for Sergeants (1958), Teacher's Pet (1958) and Pillow Talk (1959).

James Dean[edit]

Adams may have first met James Dean in December 1950 while jitterbugging for a soft drink commercial filmed at Griffith Park.[3] Adams spent three years in the US Coast Guard between the time this commercial was shot in late 1950 and the start of filming for Rebel Without a Cause in March 1955. Actor Jack Grinnage, who played Moose, recalled, "Off the set, Nick, Dennis (Hopper), and the others would go out together--almost like the gang we portrayed--but Jimmy and Corey Allen... were not a part of that."[4] They became friends during filming. During breaks, Dean and Adams entertained cast and crew with impersonations of Marlon Brando and Elia Kazan (who had directed Dean in East of Eden). A 1955 Warner Brothers press release quoted Dean as saying, "I shall be busy for the rest of 1955, and Nick will be doing film work for the next six months. Come 1956, however, I wouldn't be surprised to find myself with Adams doing a two-a-night nightclub routine--or acting in a comedy by William Shakespeare."[citation needed] When production was wrapped, Dean said in another press release, "I now regard Natalie (Wood), Nick and Sal (Mineo) as co-workers; I regard them as friends... about the only friends I have in this town. And I hope we all work together again soon."[5] Following Dean's 1955 death in an automobile accident, Adams overdubbed some of Dean's lines for the film Giant (these are in Jett Rink's speech at the hotel) and dated co-star Natalie Wood. Adams tried to capitalize on Dean's fame through various publicity stunts, including a claim he was being stalked by a crazed female Dean fan, allowing himself to be photographed at Dean's grave in a contemplative pose, holding flowers and surrounded by mourning, teenaged female fans along with writing articles and doing interviews about Dean for fan magazines.[6][7][8] He also claimed to have developed Dean's affection for fast cars, later telling a reporter, "I became a highway delinquent. I was arrested nine times in one year. They put me on probation, but I kept on racing... nowhere."

Elvis Presley[edit]

Nick Adams' widely publicized friendship with Elvis Presley began in 1956 on the set of Presley's film Love Me Tender during the second day of shooting.[9] Presley had admired James Dean and when the singer arrived in Hollywood he was encouraged by studio executives to be seen with some of the "hip" new young actors there. Meanwhile his manager Colonel Tom Parker was worried that Elvis' new Hollywood acquaintances might influence Presley and even tell him what they were paying their managers and agents (usually a fraction of what Parker was getting). Elaine Dundy called Parker a "master manipulator" who used Nick Adams and others in the entourage (including Parker's own brother-in-law Bitsy Mott) to counter possible subversion against him and control Elvis' movements. She later wrote a scathing characterization of Adams:

"...brash struggling young actor whose main scheme to further his career was to hitch his wagon to a star, the first being James Dean, about whose friendship he was noisily boastful... this made it easy for Parker to suggest that Nick be invited to join Elvis' growing entourage of paid companions, and for Nick to accept... following Adams' hiring, there appeared a newspaper item stating that Nick and Parker were writing a book on Elvis together."[10]

Dundy also wrote, "Of all Elvis' new friends, Nick Adams, by background and temperament the most insecure, was also his closest."[11] Adams was Dennis Hopper's roommate during this period and the three reportedly socialized together, with Presley "...hanging out more and more with Nick and his friends" and glad his manager "liked Nick."[12][13][14] Decades later, Kathleen Tracy recalled Adams often met Presley backstage or at Graceland, where Elvis often asked Adams "to stay over on nights": "He and Elvis would go motorcycle riding late at night and stay up until all hours talking about the pain of celebrity" and enjoying prescription drugs.[15]

Almost forty years later, writer Peter Guralnick wrote that Presley found it "good running around with Nick ... – there was always something happening, and the hotel suite was like a private clubhouse where you needed to know the secret password to get in and he got to change the password every day."[16] Presley's girlfriend June Juanico complained the singer was always talking about his friend Adams and James Dean.[17] She was also upset that Adams had started inviting himself to see Elvis, and Juanico felt that she was trying to compete for Elvis' attention. Adams would talk often about Natalie Wood to Elvis, constantly discussing her figure and her beauty, something else that caused Juanico to feel that she would soon lose Elvis to the glitz of Hollywood.[17] Presley's own mother even commented about Adams, "He sure is a pushy little fellow".[17]

As with Dean, Adams capitalized on his association with Presley, publishing an account of their friendship in May 1957.[18] In August 1958 after Elvis' mother Gladys died, Parker wrote in a letter, "Nicky Admas [sic] came out to be with Elvis last Week which [sic] was so very kind of him to be there with his friend."[19]

The Rebel[edit]

Nick Adams as Johnny Yuma

In 1959 Adams starred in the ABC television series The Rebel playing the character Johnny Yuma, a wandering, ex-Confederate, journal-keeping, sawed-off shotgun toting "trouble-shooter" in the old American west. He is credited as a co-creator of The Rebel but had no role in writing the pilot or any of the series' episodes. Adams had asked his friend Andrew J. Fenady to write the pilot as a starring vehicle for him. The series' only recurring character, publicized as a "Reconstruction beatnik", was played by Adams.[20] He reportedly consulted with John Wayne for tips on how to play the role. Adams wanted Presley to sing the theme song for The Rebel but the show's producer wanted Johnny Cash, who made it a hit.[citation needed] Guest stars appearing on the series during its two-year run included Dan Blocker, Johnny Cash, Leonard Nimoy, Tex Ritter and Robert Vaughn. Seventy-six half-hour episodes were filmed before the series was cancelled in 1961. Reruns were syndicated for several years. Adams went back to TV and film work, along with a role in the short-lived but critically successful television series Saints and Sinners.

Twilight of Honor[edit]

Adams was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as an unlikeable murder suspect in the film Twilight of Honor (1963), which featured the film debuts of both Linda Evans and Joey Heatherton. He campaigned heavily for the award, spending over $8,000 on ads in trade magazines, but many of his strongest scenes had been cut from the movie and he lost to Melvyn Douglas.

Toho Studios[edit]

In 1964, Adams had a leading role opposite Nancy Malone in an episode ("Fun and Games") of The Outer Limits television series. A review of this episode written over three decades later would characterize him as an "underrated actor."[21] By this time Adams' career was stalling. He had high hopes his co-starring performance with Robert Conrad in Young Dillinger (1964) would be critically acclaimed but the project had low production values and both critics and audiences rejected the film. Also that year Adams guest starred in an episode of the short-lived CBS drama The Reporter.

In 1965, after publicly insisting he would never work in films produced outside the US, Adams began accepting parts in Japanese science fiction monster movies (kaiju eiga). He landed major roles in two science fiction epics from Toho Studios in Chiyoda, Tokyo. His first Japanese movie was Frankenstein Conquers the World, in which he played Dr. James Bowen, a radiologist working in Hiroshima who encounters a new incarnation of the Frankenstein monster. Adams next starred in the sixth Godzilla film, Invasion of Astro-Monster (known in the U.S. as Monster Zero), in which he played Astronaut Glenn, journeying to the newly discovered Planet X. In both film plots his character had a love interest with characters portrayed by actress Kumi Mizuno. Actors at Toho Studios later fondly remembered Adams as a "team player". On the set of Monster Zero Adams and co-star Yoshio Tsuchiya (who played the villainous Controller of Planet X) reportedly got along well and played jokes on each other.[22] Adams made four films in Japan during 1965 and 1966. During this time he also co-starred with Boris Karloff in Die, Monster, Die! (1965), a gothic horror–sci fi movie filmed in England.

1967: TV episodes and low-budget films[edit]

Nick Adams wears an off-the-shelf motorcycle helmet in Mission Mars (1968) shortly before his death.

In early 1967 Disney released Mosby's Marauders, a now mostly forgotten but successful Civil War drama told from a southern perspective with Adams in the role of a cruel Union army sergeant. Adams guest-starred in five episodes of four TV series that year, including an installment of his friend Robert Conrad's The Wild Wild West, an appearance in Combat! and two episodes of Hondo (a short-lived western which also had an ex-Confederate theme). Throughout 1967 and early 1968 he also worked in three low-budget films. One of these was Mission Mars (1968) which, having been released the same year as Stanley Kubrick's widely praised 2001: A Space Odyssey, has been described as "rarely seen, and utterly dreadful." Adams' costume for this movie included an off-the-shelf motorcycle helmet. Reacting to Mission Mars over 30 years later, SciFi reviewer Gary Westfahl wrote, "The only quality that Adams could persuasively project on film was a desperate desire to be popular, to be liked.... which helps to explain why Adams got his foot in many doors..."[23] Adams' last US production was a more solid B picture, a stock car movie filmed in Iowa called Fever Heat. His last film appearance was in the little seen Spanish-language western Los Asesinos filmed in Mexico City, Mexico.

Marriage and children[edit]

Nick Adams (with props from his TV series The Rebel) and Carol Nugent pose for a publicity photo taken shortly after their marriage

Adams married former child actress Carol Nugent in 1959.[24] Nugent had appeared in an episode of The Rebel. They had two children, Allyson and Jeb Stuart Adams.[25]

Sometimes acrimonious marital problems reportedly interfered with his ability to get lucrative acting parts after 1963. While promoting Young Dillinger during a television appearance on The Les Crane Show in early 1965, Adams "shocked" the viewing audience with an announcement he was leaving his wife—seemingly without telling her first. The couple publicly announced a reconciliation a week later but his career and personal life following this episode have been characterized as a "tragic freefall".[2]

Adams and actress Kumi Mizuno may have had a short affair while he was working in Japan. "That's one of the reasons my parents were divorced", his daughter, playwright Allyson Lee Adams, later said. "My dad had a penchant for becoming infatuated with his leading ladies. It was a way for him to take on the role he was playing at the time."[26]

By July 1965, Adams and Nugent were legally separated; Nugent filed for divorce in September. The following month, while Adams was in Japan, Nugent was granted a divorce and custody of the children. In January 1966, Adams and Nugent announced another reconciliation on a local television show, Bill John's Hollywood Star Notebook. However in November 1966, Nugent resumed the divorce proceedings and obtained a restraining order against him, alleging Adams was "prone to fits of temper" and in an affidavit charged he had "choked her, struck her and threatened to kill her during the past few weeks."[24] On January 20, 1967, Adams was waiting for a court hearing to start when he was served with a $110,000 defamation suit by Nugent's boyfriend, Paul Rapp, who later married Nugent. Nevertheless, nine days later he was granted temporary custody of the children. His son Jeb Adams later recalled, "He saw it as a competition, basically, more than anything of getting custody of us. But, a matter of a week or two later, he gave us back to my mom". Nugent later regained legal custody of the children.[citation needed]

Death[edit]

Adams death certificate

After finishing Los Asesinos (1968), produced by Luis Enrique Vergara and filmed in Mexico, Adams bought a plane ticket with his own money and flew to Rome to co-star with Aldo Ray in a science fiction/horror movie called Murder in the Third Dimension, but when he got there, he found the project had been dropped. Susan Strasberg, who had worked with him 13 years earlier on the hit film Picnic and was living in Italy, encountered a thoroughly demoralized Adams in a Rome bar.[27]

On the night of February 7, 1968 his lawyer and friend, ex-LAPD officer Erwin Roeder, drove to the actor's house at 2126 El Roble Lane in Beverly Hills to check on him after a missed dinner appointment. Seeing a light on and his car in the garage, Roeder broke through a window and discovered Adams in his upstairs bedroom, slumped dead against a wall.

During the autopsy Dr. Thomas Noguchi found enough paraldehyde, sedatives and other drugs in the body "to cause instant unconsciousness." The death certificate lists "paraldehyde and promazine intoxication" as the immediate cause of death along with the notation accident; suicide; undetermined. During the 1960s drug interaction warnings were not so prominent as they later would be and the American Medical Association has subsequently warned these two types of drugs should never be taken together.

The death of Nick Adams has been cited in articles and books about Hollywood's unsolved mysteries along with speculation by a few of Adams' acquaintances he was murdered (but apparently with no motive ever offered) and claims no trace of paraldehyde (a liquid sedative often given to alcoholics at the time and one of two drugs attributed to his death) was ever found in his home. However, Adams' brother Andrew had become a medical doctor and prescribed the sedative to him. Moreover, a story in the Los Angeles Times reported stoppered bottles with prescription labels were found in the medicine cabinet near the upstairs bedroom where Adams' body was discovered. Through the years Adams' children offered speculation ranging from murder to accidental death, the latter perhaps caused by Roeder while trying to calm the actor's nerves with an unintentionally lethal combination of alcohol and prescription drugs (although the autopsy found no alcohol in Adams' blood).[28] Adams' best friend, actor Robert Conrad, has consistently maintained the death was accidental.

Carol Adams is listed as Adams' spouse on his death certificate, evidence the divorce had not become final when the actor died. She and the children were living only a few blocks from Adams' recently rented house on El Roble Lane.

Nick Adams' remains were buried in Berwick, Pennsylvania. He appeared in over 150 television series episodes and feature films throughout a 20-year career. Half of these were episodes of The Rebel. The back of his gravestone bears a silhouette of Adams in the civil-war era cap from his TV series and reads Nick Adams - the rebel - actor of hollywood screens.

Later published speculation[edit]

Adams's sexuality[edit]

Decades later, Adams' highly publicized life and death at a young age and his friendships with cultural icons such as James Dean and Elvis Presley along with his reported drug consumption made his private life the subject of many reports and assertions by some writers who have claimed Adams may have been gay or bisexual and may have had intimate relationships with both Dean and Presley. One of the earliest published mentions on this overall topic was made by gossip columnist Rona Barrett in her 1974 autobiography, in which she made no assertion Adams was homosexual or bisexual but claimed Adams had told her, along with a "whole roomful of people -- that he wasn't making it because no one in Hollywood's upper stratosphere would accept his wife." Barrett wrote, "This was untrue. She was one of the most refreshing wives in the entire community", and went on to say Adams "had become the companion to a group of salacious homosexuals" who flattered the actor, which affected his judgment and caused him to blame Carol.[29] Hollywood biographer Lawrence J. Quirk claimed Mike Connolly (a gay gossip columnist for the Hollywood Reporter from 1951 to 1966) "would put the make on the most prominent young actors, including Robert Francis, Guy Madison, Anthony Perkins, Nick Adams, and James Dean."[30] According to American Film (1986), "Nick Adams, who was ... gay, was the butt of anti-gay humor in Pillow Talk.[31] In a recent book, William Dakota, who worked as Adams's fan-mail secretary for some time, confirms that Adams was homosexual.[32]

Some writers later called Adams a "Hollywood hustler" or a "street hustler."[33] One journalist also refers to Adams as a pool hustler who made money in pool halls when he was a teenager in New Jersey and later while struggling to make ends meet during his early years in Hollywood.[34]

Friendship with Dean and Presley[edit]

It is uncertain whether James Dean and Adams met before his service in the US Coast Guard (1952–1955) and subsequent role in Rebel Without a Cause (1955). In his 1986 gossip book about gay Hollywood, Conversations With My Elders, Boze Hadleigh claimed actor Sal Mineo told him in 1972, "I didn't hear it from Jimmy (James Dean), who was sort of awesome to me when we did Rebel. But Nick told me they had a big affair." Journalist, screenwriter and author of books about Hollywood, John Gregory Dunne wrote that "James Dean was bisexual, as were Nick Adams and Sal Mineo."[35] In his book Elvis (1981) Albert Goldman wrote, "Nick Adams ingratiated himself with James Dean precisely as he would do a year or so later with Elvis. He offered himself to the shy, emotionally contorted and rebellious Dean, as a friend, a guide, a boon companion, a homosexual lover -- whatever role or service Dean required." According to Eric Braun, "Elvis was attracted by Adams' outgoing personality and the young actors caused quite a stir, cruising round Los Angeles with Natalie Wood, Russ Tamblyn and others on their Hondas.".[36] In 2005 Byron Raphael and Presley biographer Alanna Nash wrote that Adams may have "swung both ways" like "Adams' good pal (and Elvis' idol) James Dean. Tongues wagged that Elvis and Adams were getting it on."[37] Adams's former fan-mail secretary, William Dakota, confirms these claims saying that Elvis was bisexual and that he had a sexual relationship with Adams.[38] On Adams's somewhat bizarre relationship with Presley (and Natalie Wood), see also Alanna Nash, Baby, Let's Play House (2010).

Studio-arranged dates[edit]

Adams regularly dated actresses with whom he made movies. During the mid-1950s photographs of him with actress Natalie Wood were widely publicized in fan magazines. Modern Screen wrote at the time "their relationship has been mostly for fun" and they shared "a tendency toward moodiness and unpredictability." The magazine also reported they had given joint interviews "in which they admitted they adored each other" and "they even came terribly close to getting married" in Las Vegas. The same article also remarked that on one of their trips they "posed for innumerable publicity photographs - that was the real reason for the trip - " and "Right now, both Nick and Natalie are inclined to deny the whole Las Vegas episode." In his 2004 biography Natalie Wood: A Life biographer and screenwriter Gavin Lambert wrote in passing, Wood's "first studio-arranged date with a gay or bisexual actor had been with Nick Adams."[39] In his biography of gay Hollywood agent Henry Willson, Robert Hofler deals with the rise of the studio star system, in which several actors spent time on the homosexual casting couch and dated girls or even entered into sham marriages in order to cover their homosexuality. "In the Henry Willson date pool", the author says, "Nick Adams was one client, among many, who glommed on to Natalie Wood to get his picture taken."[40] Suzanne Finstad cites actor Jack Grinnage, one of the gang members in Rebel Without a Cause, about Nick Adams's and Dennis Hopper's reasons "for getting close to Natalie. 'I remember being in Dennis' dressing room with Nick and Natalie ... I don't know which one of them said this - it was Nick or Dennis - but he said, "We're gonna hang on to her bra straps." Meaning up the career ladder.' Natalie's tutor, who knew Hopper and Adams off set, said, 'Both of those two guys were all over her ... because they could see that this movie was going to be a big thing for Natalie ... they were game for anything in order to be noticed and to get ahead in the business.' "[41]

Actress Olive Sturgess relates: "When Nick and I went out, it was a casual thing – no great love or anything like that. ... I thought he was very troubled ... You could feel he was troubled. It was the manner he had – that was the way he was in real life, always brooding. ... When we went out, it was never on his motorcycle! That's one trick he couldn't pull on me. We always went in a car!"[42]

Lack of confirmation[edit]

Because of morality clauses in studio contracts along with practical marketing concerns, most homosexual actors during the 1950s and 1960s were discreet about their sexuality. However, Adams was known in Hollywood for embellishing and inventing stories about his show business experiences and long tried to capitalize on his associations with James Dean and Elvis Presley. In a brief biographical article journalist Bill Kelly wrote Adams "became James Dean's closest pal, although Nick was straight and Dean was bisexual."[43] Moreover there are neither any court documents (such as from the long and drawn out divorce and child custody proceedings between him and his wife), personal letters from Adams nor directly attributable statements by any alleged male lovers to support the assertions.

Quotes[edit]

I dreamed all my life of being a movie star. Movies were my life.
You had to have an escape when you were raised in a basement.
I saw all the James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and John Garfield
pictures. Odds against the world... that was my meat.
I will never make a picture abroad.

— 1963, two years before Adams went to Japan and co-starred in Invasion of Astro-Monster, the sixth Godzilla movie produced by Toho Studios.[44]

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1952 Somebody Loves Me Western Union boy Uncredited
1955 Strange Lady in Town Billy the Kid
1955 Mister Roberts Reber
1955 Rebel Without a Cause Chick
1955 I Died a Thousand Times Bell Boy Uncredited
1955 Picnic Bomber
1956 Our Miss Brooks Gary Nolan
1956 A Strange Adventure Phil Davis Alternative title: White Nightmare
1956 The Last Wagon Ridge
1956 Giant Jett Rink (Voice) Uncredited
1957 Fury at Showdown Tracy Mitchell
1957 Sweet Smell of Success Hot-Dog Stand Customer Uncredited
1958 Sing, Boy, Sing C.K. Judd
1958 Teacher's Pet Barney Kovac
1958 No Time for Sergeants Pvt. Benjamin B. Whitledge
1959 Pillow Talk Tony Walters
1959 The FBI Story John Gilbert "Jack" Graham
1962 Hell is for Heroes Homer
1962 The Interns Dr. Sid Lackland
1962 A Girl Named Tamiko
1963 The Hook Pvt. V.R. Hackett
1963 Twilight of Honor Ben Brown Alternative title: The Charge is Murder'
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1964 The Young Lovers Tarragoo
1965 Young Dillinger John Dillinger
1965 Frankenstein Conquers the World Dr. James Bowen
1965 Die, Monster, Die! Stephen Reinhart Alternative titles: Monster of Terror
The House at the End of the World
1965 Invasion of Astro-Monster Astronaut Glenn Alternative titles: Godzilla vs. Monster Zero
Invasion of Astro Monster
1966 Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title KEB agent Uncredited
1967 The Killing Bottle John Carter Alternative titles: International Secret Police: Driven to the Wall
Zettai zatsumi
1968 Fever Heat Ace Jones
1968 Mission Mars Nick Grant
1968 Los Asesinos Shannon
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1956 The People's Choice Augie Episode: "Sock and Augie"
1957 Playhouse 90 Sandy Episode: "The Troublemakers"
1958 Richard Diamond, Private Detective Mickey Houseman Episode: "Juvenile Jacket"
1958 Wanted: Dead or Alive Andy Martin Episode: "The Martin Poster"
1958 Cimarron City John Hartman, Jr. Episode: "Twelve Guns"
1958 Letter to Loretta Chip Davidson Episode: "Out of Control"
1958 Steve Canyon Sgt. Korman Episode: "Operation Crash Landing"
1958–1959 Zane Grey Theater Lynn Parsons
George Pelletti
2 episodes
1958–1959 Trackdown Various roles 3 episodes
1958–1961 Wagon Train Antonio "Tonio"
Sam Upton
2 episodes
1959 Yancy Derringer Duke Alexis Episode: "The Night the Russians Landed"
1959 Tales of Wells Fargo Ira Watkins Episode: "The Tired Gun"
1959 The David Niven Show Episode: "Portrait"
1959–1961 The Rebel Johnny Yuma 76 episodes
Wrote 38 episodes, credited as creator
1961–1962 The Dick Powell Show Nick Phillips
George Townsend
2 episodes
1961–1962 General Electric Theater Paul Madsen
Richard Martin
2 episodes
1962 Checkmate Weiler aka "Kid" Episode: "A Chant of Silence"
1962–1963 Saints and Sinners Nick Alexander 18 episodes
1963 77 Sunset Strip Max Dent Episode: "By His Own Verdict"
1963–1965 Burke's Law Various roles 5 episodes
1963–1967 Combat! Pvt. Mick Hellar
Cpl. Marty Roberts
2 episodes
1964 Arrest and Trial Ronnie Blake Episode: "A Roll of the Dice"
1964 The Outer Limits episode "Fun and Games" Mike Benson Episode: "Fun and Games"
1964 The Reporter Roger Episode: "How Much for a Prince?"
1964 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Jason Kemp Episode: "Turn Back the Clock"
1964 Rawhide Corporal Dasovik Episode: "Corporal Dasovik"
1965 Ben Casey Orin Reid Episode: "Three Li'l Lambs"
1966–1968 The Wild Wild West Prince/Sheriff Dave Cord 2 episodes
1967 The Wonderful World of Disney Sergeant Gregg 2 episodes
1967 The Monroes Dave Episode: "Gun Bound"
1967 Hondo Apache Kid 2 episodes

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Dan Pavlides, Fandango, Fever Heat synopsis. Retrieved 7 December 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d Winkler, Peter L. (October 30, 2009). "Nick Adams: His Hollywood Life and Death". crimemagazine.com. Retrieved May 31, 2014. 
  3. ^ This commercial is widely and reliably cited as James Dean's first paid work as an actor but Adams' participation is only ambiguously confirmed. Many Internet accounts describe it as a Pepsi-Cola commercial but it may have been for Coca-Cola. A few accounts say Adams was called back (with Dean and another actress) for a second day of interior shots around a jukebox.
  4. ^ Jack Grinnage, American Legends, James Dean. Retrieved December 6, 2007.
  5. ^ James Dean, Tribute to a Legend, Bio. Retrieved 6 December 2007.
  6. ^ Elaine Dundy, Elvis and Gladys (University Press of Mississippi, 2004), p.260, He wrote to Dundy saying, "I was a friend of James Dean."
  7. ^ Photograph of Adams at Dean gravesite in Fairmount, Indiana, abt 1956, viewed 7 December 2007
  8. ^ See Nick Adams' letter to a certain Caroline (obverse)(reverse): "I think you're wonderful for thinking so much of Jimmy. I've just written a story about him in the September issue of Screen Stars. ... He was the most wonderful, kindest guy in the whole world. The article about Jimmy and Vampira was not true. Jimmy smoked Viceroys most of the time. I'm enclosing a picture of Jimmy from a scene in 'Giant.' I wish I could send you something of his but I only have a few things of his and I would never part with them... Jimmy would have liked you very much if he had known you. ...PS: I'm also returning your quarter. I could never accept any money from someone as wonderful as you!"
  9. ^ Peter Guralnick, Last Train to Memphis, page 328 "On his second day of filming on the set of Love Me Tender he met twenty-five-year-old Nick Adams, a Hollywood hustler who had originally brazened his way into the cast of Mister Roberts two years before by doing impressions of the star, Jimmy Cagney, for director John Ford."
  10. ^ Elaine Dundy, Elvis and Gladys (1985) p. 250
  11. ^ Elaine Dundy, Elvis and Gladys, p.250.
  12. ^ Guralnick, Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley, p.336, 339.
  13. ^ See RED WEST INTERVIEW. Memphis Mafia member Red West later wrote Adams "was a friend of Elvis's and I went to Hollywood and met him. He helped me get into the first door and then Robert Conrad who did Hawaiian Eye and Wild Wild West, we played football every Sunday when Elvis got back and all those people would come out..."
  14. ^ Guralnick, Last Train to Memphis, p.339-340.
  15. ^ Her account is supported by Robert W. Dye, The Mid-south Fair, (Tn): Celebrating 150 Years (2006), p.114. After Presley completed filming he was booked to perform a large outdoor show in Tupelo, Mississippi where he "arrived on his Harley Davidson motorcycle with Nick Adams."
  16. ^ Guralnick, Last Train to Memphis, p.410.
  17. ^ a b c Cited in Guralnick, Last Train to Memphis, p.347-348. "He started telling her all about Nick and Nick's friends and Jimmy Dean, but she didn't want to hear."
  18. ^ Guralnick, Last Train to Memphis, p.347-348.
  19. ^ See Trude Forsher Archive, Letter of Authenticity from Mrs. Forsher's son. From 1956-1961, Trude Forsher was Elvis Presley and Colonel Tom Parker's personal secretary. Her vast collection of Elvis memorabilia remained with her family for almost 50 years.
  20. ^ Television Obscurities, The Rebel, 14 October 2003. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  21. ^ davidjschow.com, The Outer Limits - Fun and Games, episode reviews written 1998-2001. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  22. ^ Adams once asked Tsuchiya how to say "good morning" in Japanese but he instead taught Adams how to say "I'm hungry" (Adams was on a strict diet at the time and nearly fainted during filming). Later, when shooting a scene, Adams got even by saying to Tsuchiya in Japanese, "You're overacting!" Before leaving Toho, Adams wanted a picture of Tsuchiya, who at first thought he was just flattering him, but he said he really wanted something to remember him by. Before leaving Toho, Adams gave one of his formal outfits to Akira Kubo (who co-starred in Monster Zero as the meek inventor Tetsuo Torî) because, according to Kubo, "the suit fit me."
  23. ^ Gary Westfahl, the SciFi site, Nick Adams. Retrieved 5 December 2007.
  24. ^ a b "Actor Nick Adams Sued For Divorce". The Tuscaloosa News. November 29, 1966. p. 16. Retrieved May 31, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Actor Nick Adams Dies at His Home Of Natural Causes". Lawrence Journal-World. February 8, 1968. p. 12. Retrieved May 31, 2014. 
  26. ^ Steve Ryfle, Japan's Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of "The Big G.", p.130.
  27. ^ Susan Strasberg, Bittersweet
  28. ^ Steve Ryfle, Japan's Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of "The Big G.", p.130
  29. ^ Barret, Miss Rona (1974)
  30. ^ See Val Holley, Mike Connolly and the Manly Art of Hollywood Gossip (2003), p.22.
  31. ^ See American Film, published by the American Film Institute, 1986, p.48.
  32. ^ See William Dakota, The Gossip Columnist (2010), chapter on Nick Adams.
  33. ^ Leigh W. Rutledge, The Gay Book of Lists (2003), p.27. Rutledge writes that James Dean "claimed to have worked, with his friend Nick Adams, as a street hustler after he first arrived in Hollywood."
  34. ^ cybersleuths.com, Bill Kelly, The Unsolved Death of Nick Adams, retrieved 30 December 2007, Kelly notes Adams "...grew up in the smoky pool halls of Jersey City" and later in Hollywood "...fell back on his old skills as a pool hustler, his means of survival in Jersey City."
  35. ^ John Gregory Dunne, Regards: The Selected Nonfiction of John Gregory Dunne (2005), p.242.
  36. ^ See Eric Braun, Frightening the Horses: Gay Icons of the Cinema (2002), p.186.
  37. ^ Byron Raphael with Alanna Nash, "In Bed with Elvis", Playboy, November 2005, Vol. 52, Iss. 11.
  38. ^ See Dakota, The Gossip Columnist (2010).
  39. ^ Gavin Lambert, Natalie Wood: A Life (2004) p. 199
  40. ^ See Robert Hofler, The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson (2005), p.205.
  41. ^ Suzanne Finstad, Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood, p.190.
  42. ^ Michael G. Fitzgerald and Boyd Magers, Ladies of the Western: Interviews with Fifty-One More Actresses from the Silent Era to the Television Westerns of the 1950s and 1960s (2002), p.266.
  43. ^ Bill Kelly, The Unsolved Death of Nick Adams, retrieved 5 December 2007, please note however, although Kelly knew Adams, this article contains several verifiable errors of fact.
  44. ^ Winkler, Peter L. "Nick Adams: His Hollywood Life and Death." Crime Magazine. August 15, 2003. Retrieved February 26, 2008.
  • Stern, Keith (2009), "Nick Adams", Queers in History, BenBella Books, Inc.; Dallas, Texas, ISBN 978-1-933771-87-8 

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