Actress Julie Adams got a headstart on Mrs. Robinson as a movie seductress.
With a face familiar to almost six decades of movie and TV audiences, Adams is remembered by Elvis Presley fans as a dude ranch manager with Elvis as a singing ranch hand who caught her eye in the 1965 movie “Tickle Me.”
“My role was kind of the reverse of the boss chasing the secretary around the desk. I was definitely the older woman. I called him into my office, pursued him around the desk and kissed him,” says Adams. The plot was a boy-gets-girl Elvis film formula, which she describes simply: “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.”
That didn’t diminish her appreciation for the “gentlemanly” Elvis who shared her Southern heritage. His parents had been sharecroppers in Mississippi. Her dad was a cotton buyer in Blytheville, Ark. Presley’s Jan. 8 birthday will bring Adams, 84, back for Elvis Birthday Week to discuss her long career and its brief intersection with the King of Rock and Roll. It will be part of a “Conversations On Elvis” forum at Memphis Marriott East.
For Adams and her fans, the Elvis film was a career highlight, but not the most memorable role of her life. That would be as the fetching bathing beauty swept away by a gilled Amazonian monster man in “Creature from the Black Lagoon.”
“I came out just fine. The creature did capture me for a while, but then I was rescued,” says Adams, who, like the rest of the cast, greeted the Creature character on set each day by saying, “Good morning, Beastie.”
She has often attended film conventions, and the first question everyone asks is about the “Creature” flick from 1954. “If anybody had told me I would still be talking about that movie, I would have said, ‘No way,’” Adams says by phone from her home in Los Angeles.
Her list of film and TV credits is one of the longest in Hollywood with 142 titles, from bit parts in 1949 films to recent TV roles in “Lost,” “CSI: NY,” and “Cold Case.” Her last film role was a grandmother in Oliver Stone’s 2006 film “World Trade Center.” One of her longest-running TV roles was the recurring character of saucy real estate agent Eve Simpson in “Murder She Wrote.”
“She liked money, and she liked men, so there wasn’t too much wrong with her,” says Adams.
At Graceland, spokesman Kevin Kern said Adams was invited as part of Elvis Birthday Week because of her fans in the Elvis community. “And she is part of pop culture in America from the classic ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ to the character Amelia in TV’s ‘Lost.’”
“In certain ways, it’s hard to escape me. I’ve been in a lot of projects over the years,” says Adams, who began her career under her given name, Betty Adams. The name was changed a year later to Julia Adams and later to Julie Adams. For her, the name wasn’t important. “I just thought, ‘I’m working. They’re paying me.’”
While “Creature” was a fan favorite, Adams says her own favorite movie experience was working with actor Jimmy Stewart in “Bend of the River,” a 1952 Western. “My idea of heaven was going to work with Jimmy Stewart every day.”
Adams says her agent submitted her name for the role in the Elvis film. “At the beginning of the film, he (Elvis) sent all the actresses flowers. I think they were yellow roses.” It reminded her that “young Southern men have a kind of courtesy about them and a low-key kind of charm.”
In a conversation on the set one day, Adams recalls Elvis telling her about his stint in the Army and how he “just wanted to be one of the guys. I really liked him as a person. There was something very real about him.”