Kingston native Edie Adams best known for selling cigars

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kingston native Edie Adams best known for selling cigars

For more than a decade, Edie Adams appeared in magazine ads and television commercials as the pitch lady for Muriel cigars.

Clad in a sequined, low-cut dress, the blonde temptress taunted men with her scintillating come-on line, "Why don't you pick one up and smoke it sometime?"

More popular was the commercial in which Adams pitched the 10-cent cigars by breathily singing, "Hey, big spender, spend a little dime with me."

At a time when consumerism was booming across the nation, the advertising industry persuaded Americans to purchase new products as a sign of status. Smoking was considered "sexy" and "fashionable," and the sensual Adams used television to propel her career as a singer, Broadway, television and film actress and comedienne. . . .

In the 1950s and 1960s, cigarette smoking was extremely fashionable. Americans considered the practice "cool" because almost everyone in the public eye smoked, including sports figures, movie stars and singers. And with the popularity of television, viewers in the 1950s and 1960s routinely witnessed their heroes lighting up.

Tobacco companies mounted effective ad campaigns for their products, too. There were "singing cigarettes," "dancing cigarettes," movie stars pitching cigarettes, and even actors portraying doctors who promoted the "benefits" of cigarettes in television commercials.

The makers of Muriel cigars cashed in on the craze by employing Edie Adams' star power during the 1950s and 1960s. Considering that her late husband had been a notorious cigar smoker, who at one time sold Dutch Masters cigars on TV, the idea of Adams pitching a slimmer cigar on television was only natural. . . .

Because of her 20 years of commercials for Muriel cigars and her successful business ventures, Adams went from being mired in debt after Kovacs' fatal accident in 1962 to being a millionaire in 1989.

Suffering from cancer and losing weight in recent years, Adams died of complications from pneumonia at age 81 in Los Angeles on Oct. 15, 2008.

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