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Betty May “Julie” Adams is an actress who has made more than fifty films and appeared in numerous television series. She was raised in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and attended Little Rock Junior College, now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR). She may be best remembered for her role in the 3-D thriller and cult classic, Creature from the Black Lagoon. Most recently, she had a recurring role on the popular TV series Murder, She Wrote.
Betty May Adams was born on October 17, 1926, in Waterloo, Iowa, but grew up in Little Rock, where she began acting in elementary school. After attending Little Rock Junior College, she left in 1946 to live with an aunt in Hollywood, California, where she studied dramatics and worked part time as a secretary.
Her first movie role was a small, uncredited appearance as a starlet in Paramount’s Red, Hot and Blue (1949). Next came a series of low-budget westerns for Lippert Studios, with her billed as Betty Adams. In 1951, after helping on a screen test with an actor under consideration, she was signed to a contract with Universal Studios, where her first name was changed to Julia and, in 1955, to Julie.
Around this time, Universal made a publicity splash by insuring her legs. In 1954, still billed as Julia, she was cast in the role for which she is often remembered, as Kay Lawrence in the 3-D thriller, Creature from the Black Lagoon. Her role was described as “not only lovely, but an intelligent researcher who is both feminine and strong-willed.”
Notable movies include the film noir Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957), Tickle Me (1965) with Elvis Presley, and the TV movie Go Ask Alice (1973). In 1954, she married actor Ray Danton, with whom she had two sons. Danton was rising to fame in the 1950s for playing smooth operators and gangster types, gaining notice for his role in I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955) as well as two gangster films, The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (1960), and Portrait of a Mobster (1961). She and Danton divorced in 1981.
She was cast in a leading role as Jimmy Stewart’s wife on The Jimmy Stewart Show, a 1971 family situation comedy television series. From 1987 to 1993, she had a recurring role as flirtatious real estate agent Eve Simpson on the popular TV mystery series Murder, She Wrote. Adams continues to appear occasionally in episodes of television shows, including Cold Case and CSI:NY. She lives in California. In 2011, she published her autobiography, The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections from the Black Lagoon. In 2012, Adams won the Rondo Award for the Monster Kid Hall of Fame at the annual Wonderfest in Louisville, Kentucky. In 2013, she was honored with UALR’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Brian’s Drive-in Theater. http://www.briansdriveintheater.com/julieadams.html (accessed April 16, 2014).
Julie Adams. http://www.julieadams.biz/ (accessed April 16, 2014).
Wolfe, Ron. “Still the Gill Man’s Gal.”Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, May 7, 2013, pp. 1E, 6E.
Nancy HendricksArkansas State University
Last Updated 4/16/2014
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