Thursday, October 16, 2008


Edie Adams has passed away at the age of 81 in Los Angeles. Many tributes to her will be about her life with her first husband Ernie Kovacs and the travails she went through after he died because of his debts. Others will talk about her movie career (including "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" and "The Apartment") or her Tony-winning role as Daisy Mae in the Broadway production of "Li'l Abner". Still others might talk about how she broke down racial barriers on television by performing with Duke Ellington and Sammy Davis, Jr.

But I'd like to concentrate on her status as the queen of blipvert sex symbols due to her 19 year association with Muriel Cigars.

This is an excerpt from "Might Minutes" by Jim Hall. It's an excellent book about TV advertising that came out back in 1984:

"The first lady of TV commercial sex, Edie Adams, began her long reign in 1960. Before Adams suggestively sang, "Hey big spender, spend a little dime on me," her sponsor, Muriel Cigars, had fallen on hard times. Sales had drastically decreased. Muriel's first commercials of the fifties featured an animated cigar with Mae West's face and insinuating voice. Edie Adams was recruited to play essentially the same type of character in the flesh.

Adams's first appearance for Muriel was on her husband's hit television program 'The Ernie Kovacs Show'. A rival cigar manufacturer, Dutch Masters, sponsored Kovacs's show, but needed to sell off some surplus commercial time. An account executive at the Dutch Masters ad agency phoned a friend at Muriel's agency and, as a joke, offered the commercial slots. Muriel called his bluff and bought into the program. Then, to heighten the irony, Kovacs's wife was hired as Muriel's singing and dancing spokeswoman.

Edie Adams's hip-grinding, sultry-voiced performances were goodnatured but provocative. She was seen singing the Muriel jingle in Broadway-style production numbers shot in a jazz nightclub, a Western rodeo, and other settings. Adams was the first of the great, attention-getting "stoppers", as sexy spokeswomen are known, and she helped Muriel's sales to regain lost ground."

Here are a few of the many blipverts she made for Muriel:

With the "Adams Sisters"
(Edith, Editha, and Edie)

With her name up in lights

Toby O'B

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