Adams in 1977
|Born||February 26, 1919|
|Died||April 26, 2005 (aged 86)|
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Wisconsin–Madison|
University of Michigan
Mason Adams (February 26, 1919 – April 26, 2005) was an American character actor and voice-over artist. From the late 1940s until the early 1970s he was heard in numerous radio programs and voiceovers for television commercials, the latter of which he resumed in the 1980s and 90s. In the early 1970s he moved into acting and from 1977 to 1982 held perhaps his most known role, that of Managing Editor Charlie Hume on Lou Grant. He also acted in numerous other television and movie roles, most prominently Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981) and F/X (1986).
Adams was born in Brooklyn, New York. He earned an MA degree from the University of Michigan in Theatre Arts and Speech and also attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison, studying theater arts. He made his stage debut in 1940, appearing in summer stock at Baltimore's Hilltop Theater.
Adams was heard on many radio programs during Radio's Golden Age. A notable recurring role was that of Pepper Young in Pepper Young's Family, which aired from 1947 to 1959. He also portrayed the deadly Nazi Atom Man in a classic 1945 serial on the radio version of The Adventures of Superman.
During the 1960s, Adams was ubiquitous as a voiceover actor in television commercials for foods and household products, most notably for Chiffon margarine and Crest toothpaste ("Helps stop cavities before they start"). He also did the vocal part of the television commercials for Smucker's preserves ("With a name like Smucker's, it has to be good!"), a role he resumed in his later years.
His voiceover work resumed in the 1980s when he began providing the voiceover for Cadbury Creme eggs, which were advertised on television with Adams' catchy slogan, "Nobunny knows Easter better than him [the Cadbury Bunny]." Also in the 1980s, Adams did voice-over TV commercials for Sherwin-Williams Paints, as well as radio commercials for the Salvation Army. In addition, Adams was the narrator for Kix commercials in the 1990s as well as a few Dentyne commercials and a few Swanson commercials. He was also the announcer for a 1992 WCBS-TV news promo, as well as a 1986 Lysol commercial. In the early 1990s, he narrated Frontiers of Flight, a Discovery Channel series on milestones of aviation. In one of the early episodes of Sesame Street, he voiced a cartoon featuring a "jazzy" triangle and a "square" square. He voiced those two, as well as being the narrator, with jazz music in the background. This cartoon was repeated on the show for many years, well into the 1980s.
During the 1970s, Adams was a co-star of the NBC soap opera Another World and in 1976 he was in the original 1976 Broadway cast for Checking Out. Following that he landed perhaps his most famous role, Managing Editor Charlie Hume in the television series Lou Grant, which aired from 1977 to 1982. Appearing in the show for its entire run, he landed three straight Emmy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor in 1979, 1980 and 1981, each year alongside his Lou Grant co-star Robert Walden, who played reporter Joe Rossi. During his run on Lou Grant, Adams performed perhaps his most often seen role, as the US president in Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981). He also appeared in popular TV movies, such as The Deadliest Season (1977), Revenge of the Stepford Wives (1980) and The Kid with the Broken Halo (1982).
In 1983, Adams joined The Mirror Theater Ltd's Mirror Repertory Company for their first repertory season, appearing in Paradise Lost, Rain, Inheritors, and The Hasty Heart. This season was presented initially Off-Off-Broadway at The Real Stage Acting School and was moved Off-Broadway to the Theatre at St. Peter's Church. In 1986, he starred as Col. Edward Mason, one of his most famous feature film roles, in the movie F/X starring Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy, and in 1991 he appeared in the action movie Toy Soldiers.
In 1993, Adams starred as Walter Warner Sr. in the movie Son in Law starring Pauly Shore, and after that he had roles in Houseguest (1995), Touch (1997) and The Lesser Evil (1998). In the 1998 HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon he played Senator Clinton P. Anderson. His final role was in the series finale of Oz.
Mason Adams played many characters in Old-Time Radio programs, amongst them:
- The Adventures of Ellery Queen
- The Adventures of Superman
- Big Sister
- Big Town
- CBS Radio Mystery Theater
- The Crime Club
- Exploring Tomorrow
- Gasoline Alley
- Grand Central Station
- Inner Sanctum
- The NBC Radio Theatre
- Pepper Young's Family
- Proudly We Hail
- This Is My Story
- X Minus One
- Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
- Corporal Eddie on a series of public announcement shows for the U.S. Army
Adams achieved a bit of holiday immortality by taking part in a comedy spoof of "The Twelve Days of Christmas", called "The Chickens Are in the Chimes" (RCA Victor 74-8277, 1963). Recorded by Sascha Burland and the Skipjack Choir, with Adams as the lead voice, this recording was released on a 45 rpm record but has never been released on compact disc. The recording for the "B" side was "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas".
"The Chickens Are in the Chimes" has often been played over radio stations at Christmas, and became a holiday favorite ever since.
Personal life and death
Adams married Margot Fineberg in 1958. The couple had a daughter, Betsy, and a son, Bill.
Mason died on April 26, 2005, from natural causes.
- The Happy Hooker (1975) - The Banker with Chris
- God Told Me To (1976) - Obstretician
- The Deadliest Season (1977, TV Movie) - Bill Cavins
- Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977) - Grandpa (voice)
- And Baby Makes Six (1979, TV Movie) - Dr. Eliot Losen
- A Shining Season (1979, TV Movie) - Dr. Ed Johnson
- Murder Can Hurt You (1980, TV Movie) - Willie the Wino
- Revenge of the Stepford Wives (1980, TV Movie) - Wally
- Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981) as U.S. President
- Peking Encounter (1981, TV Movie) - Clyde
- The Kid with the Broken Halo (1982, TV Movie) - Harry Tannenbaum
- Adam (1983, TV Movie) - Ray Nellette
- Great Day (1983, TV Movie) - Narrator
- Passions (1984, TV Movie) - Ron Sandler
- The Night They Saved Christmas (1984, TV Movie) - Sumner Murdock
- F/X aka Murder by Illusion (1986) - Col. Edward Mason
- Under Siege (1986, TV Movie) - Geoffrey Wiggins
- Northstar (1986, TV Movie) - Dr. Karl Janss
- Who Is Julia? (1986, TV Movie) - Dr. Gordon
- Rage of Angels: The Story Continues (1986, TV Movie) - Father Francis Ryan
- The Hope Division (1987, TV Movie) - Father Francis Ryan
- It All Started with a Mouse: The Disney Story (1989, TV Movie) - Narrator
- Perry Mason: The Case of the Maligned Mobster (1991, TV Movie) - Frank Halloran
- Toy Soldiers (1991) - Dep. Dir. Otis Brown
- Rockenwagner (1991, TV Movie) - Rory Carmichael
- Jonathan: The Boy Nobody Wanted (1992, TV Movie) - Judge Colbert
- Son in Law (1993) - Walter Warner Sr.
- Houseguest (1995) - Mr. Pike
- Not of This Earth (1995) - Dr. Rochelle
- Touch (1997) - Father Nestor
- Hudson River Blues (1997) - Grandpa
- Metropolitan Hospital (1997, TV Movie)
- The Lesser Evil (1998) - Derek's father
- Life Among the Cannibals (1999) - Francis
- Douglass K. Daniel (1996). Lou Grant: The Making of TV's Top Newspaper Drama. Syracuse University Press. pp. 43–. ISBN 978-0-8156-0363-4.
- Fahim, Kareem (28 April 2005). "Mason Adams, an Actor Lauded for Role on 'Lou Grant,' Dies at 86". NY Times.
- Bloom, Nate (2005-05-20). "Celebrity Jews". The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California. Retrieved 2006-12-13.
- Mason Adams Biography - Yahoo! Movies
- "Lou Grant". Valley Morning Star. September 18, 1977. p. 123. Retrieved June 11, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Gussow, Mel. "THEATER: MIRROR REP, IN A REVIVAL OF 'RAIN'." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Mar. 1984. Web. 10 Jan. 2017. <https://www.nytimes.com/1984/03/11/arts/theater-mirror-rep-in-a-revival-of-rain.html>.
- Sies, Luther F. (2014). Encyclopedia of American Radio, 1920-1960, 2nd Edition, Volume 1. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-5149-4. P. 12.
- Mason Adams, an Actor Lauded for Role on 'Lou Grant,' Dies at 86