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Don Adams, star of 'Get Smart'

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Don Adams, star of 'Get Smart,' dies at 82


By Diane Werts


September 27, 2005

"Would you believe" Don Adams is dead? The "Get Smart" star's TV catchphrases reverberated yesterday as news circulated that Adams had died Sunday at age 82 of a lung infection after months of ill health.

"I asked you not to tell me that" was another line well known to fans of Adams' career-making portrayal of hapless secret agent Maxwell Smart in NBC's hit 1960s sitcom. Employed by good-guy spy agency CONTROL, Adams' Agent 86 was forever hearing bad news as he, accompanied by Barbara Feldon's sexy Agent 99, attempted to thwart evil KAOS agents. In trying to talk his way out of tight situations, Smart might tell antagonists they were surrounded by "seven Coast Guard cutters," and, doubted, he'd negotiate: "Would you believe six? How about two cops in a rowboat?"

Adams' nasal wisecracks in the Cold War send-up created by comedy legends Mel Brooks and Buck Henry won him three consecutive comedy actor Emmys 1967-69 after his 1966 nomination for the series' first season. "Get Smart" itself took comedy series Emmys in 1968 and 1969.

Co-star Feldon, a frequent Emmy nominee for the show, said Adams "had this prodigious energy, so as an actor working with him it was like being plugged into an electric current." She told the Associated Press yesterday, "A scene would just take off and you were there for the ride. It was great fun acting with him." Their characters married later in the series and became parents.

Their show's impact on 1960s pop culture extended beyond the catchphrases employed by Adams' agent, whenever his plans fell apart - "Sorry about that, Chief" to his boss Ed Platt, or "Missed it by that much."Also influential were the mod fashions sported by sleek ex-model Feldon, the gender balance of her being as brainy as he was bumbling, and especially the dry wit that added sophistication to the show's slapstick humor. "Get Smart" appealed to both adults and children, immediately vaulting into Nielsen's top 15 rankings as its shoe-phones and Cone of Silence spoofed the spy gadgets of the era's James Bond films.

Adams was born Donald Yarmy in New York in 1923, later changing his name to move up the alphabetical list for auditions when he married singer Adelaide Adams. (His brother Dick Yarmy kept the family name as a supporting performer in TV guest shots, including two "Get Smart" episodes.) After serving in the Marines in World War II, Adams worked as a second banana in both 1950s stand-up and 1960s TV, where he began to make an impact on "The Bill Dana Show" and as the voice of cartoon character Tennessee Tuxedo.

His never-ruffled deadpan quippery on "Get Smart" became so beloved that Adams later revived the role repeatedly: in the 1980 feature film "The Nude Bomb," the 1989 TV movie "Get Smart, Again!" and the short-lived 1995 Fox sitcom "Get Smart" with Andy Dick as his equally blundering son. He also voiced the 1980s cartoon takeoff "Inspector Gadget." Other acting endeavors were less enduring.

"Get Smart" repeated for decades in syndication and on cable outlets such as Nick at Nite. Its DVD release is rumored to be planned for 2006. A reunion of the cast and crew in 2003 found Adams recovering from a broken hip, according to the Internet fan site www.wouldyoubelieve.com. The injury debilitated him further until his death, his friend and former agent Bruce Tufeld told The Associated Press. Tufeld said yesterday funeral arrangements were incomplete. Adams, married and divorced three times, had seven children.

Maxwell Smart: In his own words

'Would you believe?'

'Missed it by that much!'

'Sorry about that, Chief'

'And...loving it!'

'The old (fill in the blank) trick'

'I asked you not to tell me that!'

From: http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/tv/ny...ision-headlines

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