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Friday, June 4, 2010


LUCAS: I can tell you something about this place. The boys around here call it "The Black Lagoon;" a paradise. Only they say nobody has ever come back to prove it.


DR. DAVID REED: We didn't come here to fight monsters, we're not equipped for it.


Anybody who doesn't recognize those two bits of dialogue has been woefully deprived of good old American pop culture. The lines, of course, are right out of the script for the cult classic, The Creature From The Black Lagoon.

And the lovely actress who was the unwilling object of the Creature's obsession was sitting across from me and Chris, spinning a few tales of Hollywood misadventures of her own. Her name, known to several generations of young men, was Julie Adams.

"I made my debut in the third grade," Julie told us. "The play was Hansel And Gretel." She gave us a mischievous grin. "Guess which part I played."

In her heyday, Julie was one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood. Legs insured for a quarter of a million dollars. Starring roles opposite all the great leading men of her time: Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, Tony Curtis, Clark Gable, and many, many more.

And now, at about 50, here she was as lovely and charming as ever, co-starring as Lorne Greene's wife in Code Red. She'd dropped by to see us to talk about the dreadful scripts they were getting, although she hadn't gotten around to that yet. Like Lorne, who'd shown up at our office doorstep a few days before, she was too polite and diplomatic to dive right into the mess that just might become Irwin (The Towering Toupee) Allen's last hurrah. (Or, Last fucking Ha-Ha, as Chris was wont to say.)

Although she'd guest starred on Quincy, we had never met her. But we had met her husband, Ray Danton, who'd directed a couple of our Quincy episodes.

"Ray got started in Westerns, just like I did," Julie said, when told about the Quincy connection. "He likes to joke that he spent his first few years in the business with an ear full of dirt."

We looked at her quizzically. Dirt? In his ear?

She laughed - a lovely sound. "He was always playing Indians in those days," she said. "A bit of type-casting that was hard to break... Although there's not a drop of Indian blood him. And he says that invariably, he'd be the Indian scout who puts his ear to the ground, then sagely announces: 'White man comes on iron horse.'"

Chuckles all around, and as our secretary, Genevieve, entered with more tea for Julie, we motioned for her to sit in and listen.

Julie said, "You know, I was just a girl from Iowa with stars in her eyes when I came out here to make my fortune." She shrugged. "It wasn't easy. I worked as a secretary part time for a couple of years, meanwhile taking all the classes I could in acting, dancing, fencing... you name it, I took a class in it."

"And horse riding?" I guessed.

Another melodious laugh. Julie's eyes sparkled with mirth. "No, I'd never ridden a horse in my life until I got my first job. And in a way, it was fortunate that I hadn't."

How so?

She said, "The director asked me if I could ride, so I said, absolutely... all my life. And then the big scene came up where the horse I was riding was supposed to run away with me, so I could be rescued by the handsome hero.

"Well, they had me in this outfit - leather pants, leather everything - and the pants were so tight they had to sew me into them. I didn't touch a drop of water for hours, for fear that I'd have to use the Ladies, and they'd have to cut me out of the pants and then sew me back in them again."

We all laughed, Genevieve the heartiest.

Julie said, "Then came the big scene and the pants were so tight I couldn't bend my legs. So they lifted me on the horse. Mind you, this was the first time I was ever on such a beast. And it was huge, huge." She raised a hand as high as she could to indicate just how huge. "Then, they led the horse out to the Mark, handed me the reins and said to wait for my cue.

"Shots were fired off camera, for the big shootout, and the director shouts for me to go. I didn't know how to make a horse go... there wasn't a pedal anywhere that I could see. But the gunfire scared the horse and it took off. Going like crazy.

"Fortunately, I was supposed to be screaming for help, because that's what I did anyway. I was terrified. And then... well... like a bit right out of Auntie Mame... my pants were so tight I got stuck in the saddle so I couldn't have fallen off if I wanted to. The horse ran on and on, then turned and raced back through the camp, scattering extras and crew members.

"Then came the big rescue. And when it was done, they lifted me out of the saddle, and I staggered back expecting to be bawled out by the director, or maybe even fired. Instead, he said, 'You were marvelous, darling! Marvelous! I wasn't told you were such a fabulous horsewoman!'"

Julie grinned at us. "After that, I very quickly started taking riding lessons up at Griffith Park," she said. "And it was a good thing, too, because I was in a whole string of Westerns after that. Word got out what a good rider I was. And..." she shrugged... "I suppose it helped that I looked good in tight leather pants."

"And white bathing suits, too," Chris opined.

"Oh, you meant the Black Lagoon movie," Julie said with a grin. "You know, I was in scads of films and many, many episodes of television, but the thing everyone remembers most was me in that white bathing suit being terrorized by the Creature. He was played by two men, you know. One for the underwater scenes, the other for the land scenes."

"So, it was the land scene guy who got to carry you around while you were eeking," I said, wishing mightily that I had been that man.

Julie chuckled, then said, "I receive fan mail from young men all over the world - as far away as Australia. All wanting an autographed picture of me in that white bathing suit, with the Creature threatening in the background."

Another laugh. "What a treat to make so many conquests of young men at my age."

"Was it a difficult shoot?" I asked.

"Oh, was it ever," Julie said. "We shot some of it at the lake in the backlot, but then went all over to pick up the rest. We even had a second unit in Florida to shoot underwater scenes, because the water there is so clear.

"It was hardest on Ben Chapman, though. The one who played the land-based Creature. The makeup took hours and hours, and then he couldn't sit down in the suit. He'd have to stand the whole time, sometimes ten hours a day. And it was so hot - he was being steamed to death in that thing. Ben spent a lot of time floating in the lake to cool down. And when we were shooting, he had a guy standing by to hose him off."

She sipped her tea, then added, "The other thing that was so horrible about his suit was that he could barely see. And whenever he lugged me into the Grotto, he scraped my head against the rocks.

"One time I got a really bad blow on the head and I was out cold for I don't know how long. And I felt dizzy after that for most of the day."

She shrugged. "But, as I'm sure you are aware," she continued, "they make mistakes by the dozen in films of all kinds. Why, when I was in Bend In River - opposite Jimmy Stewart - at one point I'm shot with an arrow right here."

Julie indicated a place between one breast and her neck. "Then, later on, the arrow is in my shoulder." She showed us where.

"Of course, they had to move it, because when the wound was treated the censors would have gone crazy because too much of my breast might have been revealed. The thing is, it would have been expensive to go back and shoot the scene of the arrow hitting me - this time in a more easily accessible place. We all just hoped no one would notice, and, of course, some people did."

Chris said, "Wasn't that the movie where you see a jet's com trail in one of the shots?"

Julie giggled. "The very same. But, we had Jimmy Stewart front and center and the script was great, so everything turned out for the best.

She paused, remembering. "Rock Hudson was in it, too. When the movie opened he got so many cheers from the audience that Jimmy got horribly jealous. He said Rock was just a big ham, and then he swore that he'd never speak to him again."

With a shrug, she added: "And as far as I know, he never did."

Julie said, "Of course, there are some things you have no control over. Tragic things. Why, when I did Six Bridges To Cross with Tony Curtis, Sammy Davis Jr. was in a car accident and lost his eye. He was on the way to record the music for the film, so I was long gone and on to other projects. But Sammy is a dear, dear friend, and we all felt simply terrible about it."

With that somber note, there was a short silence, which was then filled when Julie got to the point of her visit. Besides just making nice to the writers, that is.

She said, "Lorne's told me how little control you have over the scripts we're receiving, but perhaps there is something you can help us with."

Chris, as smitten as I was, said, "Anything, Julie."

To which I added, "Whatever we can do."

Julie said, "The thing is I'm finding very little to do on this show. I'm supposed to play Lorne's wife and the mother of our two firemen sons, but rarely do we have a scene together. With either Lorne, or the boys - or even the whole family."

We thought a moment, mentally reviewing the scripts that hadn't yet been produced, then ran into The Problem. The scripts had all been approved by many, vice presidents, including the all important Censor - Susan Futterman. To change anything at all - much less to add a scene - would require further approvals up and down the ladder. Plus, many of the approved scripts were hanging by a thread, and if the Suits had a second chance they'd put the kabosh on them for sure.

"There's a script coming up," Chris finally said, "where you and Lorne are together. It starts with a fight, then you two make up."

"That's good," Julie said. "I love working opposite Lorne. We can really strike sparks between us."

I remembered the script, thinking: Aw, shit!

But what I said to Chris was, "Uh... partner... maybe you forgot. Futterman nixed the scene."

I turned to Julie to explain: "She's the censor."

"I know who she is," Julie said, frosty.

"Well... She said the kiddies watching the show might get warped - she said, 'conflicted' - if they saw Mommy and Daddy figures kissing in their bedroom."

"What? We should do it in the kitchen?" Julie scoffed. "What foolishness!"

"Maybe that's a good idea," Chris put in. "The kitchen business, I mean."

We both turned to look at him. How so?

Chris said, "That script's still a little short, so we could put the scene back in. Except, we start the fight in the bedroom. Then move it to the kitchen, where they can settle the argument. Then kiss to make up. Except, just then, one of the boys comes in from work and they jump apart. Act a little embarrassed. But their son thinks it's sweet... Like that..."

"A charming little scene," Julie said. "That's the kind of thing I mean."

Then she added, "Anything else? Are there other scripts that offer opportunities to do a little acting?"

I thought frantically. We both really wanted to please her. She was so nice, so charming, and at 50-something, still a head turner. Also, I must confess, neither one of us could get that movie image of her in the white bathing suit out of our heads.

I said, "Well, there's a script coming up where a brush fire traps everybody in a substation, along with refugees from the fire. We could... uh..." I was thinking as fast as I could... "We could have you visiting Lorne on some errand and you get trapped with all the rest."

"That's good," Chris said. Julie nodded in agreement.

I was usually pretty good at winging things, but this time I blew it. I said, "Maybe we could put a pregnant woman at the station... and... and... she's starts to deliver the baby...and... and... it's all going wrong... and... and... at the height of the fire danger you save the day by helping the woman deliver the baby."

There was a dead silence. So silent, that I realized instantly what a foolish, sexist, and condescending thing I had said. I wanted to crawl under the desk and hide.

Then Julie batted her eyes, and said, in the sweetest Gone With The Wind drawl you have heard: "Why, Suh, I just know everything about birthin' babies."

You can imagine how small I felt. But Julie just laughed, patted my hand, and told another of her wonderful stories to relieve the tension.

When she left, we were all fast friends. Really. To this day I exchange Christmas cards with her every year. And once we had a book signing on the Fourth Of July, and Julie showed up with a half-a-dozen celebrity friends and really put the signing over the top.

What a lady!

Here's some more links to photos of the lovely Julie Adams:

Fire Department cheesecake.

Julie and the Creature.

Julie's Filmography.

Julie XMAS Photo.

Julie the Goddess.

Looking good.

Bathing Beauty.



The MisAdventures began humbly enough - with about 2,000 readers. When it rose to over 50,000 (we're now knocking at the door of 110,000) I started listening to those of you who urged me to collect the stories into a book. Starting at the beginning, I went back and rewrote the essays, adding new detail and events as they came to mind. This book is the result of that effort. However, I'm mindful of the fact, Gentle Reader, that you also enjoy having these little offerings posted every Friday to put a smile on your face for the weekend. So I'll continue running them until it reaches the final Fade Out. Meanwhile, it would please the heart of this ink-stained wretch - as well as tickle whatever that hard black thing is in my banker's chest - if you bought the book. It will make a great gift, don't you think? And if you'd like a personally autographed copy you can get it directly through my (ahem) Merchant's Link at Click here. Buy the book and I will sign it and ship it to you. Break a leg!


Two new companion editions to the international best-selling Sten series. In the first, learn the Emperor's most closely held  cooking secrets. In the other, Sten unleashes his shaggy-dog joke cracking sidekick, Alex Kilgour. Both available as trade paperbacks or in all major e-book flavors. Click here to tickle your funny bone or sizzle your palate.    


Relive the fabulous four-day Stregg-laced celebration.  Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. New recipes from the Eternal Emperor's kitchen. Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. Sten's thrill-packed exploits at the Emp's castle. How to make your own Stregg. And, did I mention, Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever?

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