Article from: "The Don Adamses: How Many Times Can They Deny It's Not So?" by Tom Daly. Modern Movies. March 1969.
The Don Adamses: How Many Times Can They Deny It's Not So?
"I am a quick study," Don Adams says, meaning he has no difficulty learning and remembering his lines on his highly successful TV show, Get Smart. "I can memorize a script in an hour, but I can't remember a name even for three seconds. I've even forgotten my wife's name on occasion!"
If Don is having difficulty remembering his pretty wife, Dorothy's, name the reason may well be that he sees so little of her. The pressures of a weekly television series are enormous and most of them fall squarely on the shoulders of the star, namely, Don Adams. His day begins at roughly five o'clock in the morning, at which time he must rise and dress in order to get to the studio around six-thirty or seven.
Filming begins' by eight-thirty. If he's lucky he manages to leave the studio by seven at night. More often than not he doesn't get home until ten, eleven or even midnight. "It's a grind," Don says.
Back before television, columnists used to moan over how many Hollywood marriages were destroyed b the work schedules in pictures, but compared to television picture-making is a snap.
"Snap" is a frequent sound heard around television studios these days and most likely it is the sound of another marriage being stretched to the breaking point. The list of male stars who have risen to the top in TV only to see their marriages fall apart is a long and sad one. --Ryan O'Neal, Bill Shatner, David McCallumm, Bob Culp, David Janssen and more--many more. And now their friends are asking, "Will Don and Dorthy Adams be the next couple to go 'snap'?"
Some couples divorce over one big problem, while others break apart over a series of little problems, no one of which is so great, but the combination of which is--like wow! Let's take a closer look at Don and Dorothy. There are the little things--like the long hours Don has to spend at the studio and the fact that he has to go on personal appearance tours and press junkets which eat into his already precious time; but there have also been some pretty big problems for them to overcome.
Last April, for instance, Dorothy severely hurt herself in a freak kitchen accident. A gash in her hand required 18 stitches and she was in great pain for several days after. Don, was, of course, all sympathy. But there are times when a girl needs more than sympathy--she needs the actual presence of her man, her husband. Only he can reassure her. Only he can take away the hurt of hurting. But Don couldn't be with Dorothy. Oh sure, he was there as much as possible, but "possible" wasn't very often.
All his life there have been just two things Don Adams wanted. One was to be a star and the other was to be happily married. What a tragedy it would be if in pursuit of the first, Don lost his chance to ever have the second!
He was born April 13, 1927, in New York City. His real name us Donald James Yarmy. "My mother was an Irish Catholic and my father was a Hungarian Jew," he says. "When they married, both families disowned them."
Psychologists say that children are extremely sensitive to undercurrents of trouble, and the estrangement between his parents and his grandparents may have played a large part in giving Don a slightly insecure feeling about family relationships. Characteristically, he rushed into an early marriage, which proved unsuccessful. Her name was Dell Cox, and together they produced three wonderful children--Christine, eighteen; Cathy, seventeen; and Cecilia, eleven. But the fact that they both loved their children was not enough to keep Don's first marriage together.
At that time, just after the War, Don was working as a commercial artist. "I was never very happy at that and never very good at it," he says. But he was married and had this family to support.
Ironically, it was the strain of a lot of little things that broke up Don's first marriage. And now, once again, a lot of little annoyances are piling up in his life.
One problem between Don and his first wife was the fact they had married so young. There was also a religious problem. "I was married awfully young," Don remembers, "and I felt trapped. I wanted to be a comedian and I felt my life was being wasted. There was another thing. My wife had been divorced and all the time we were married we were out of the church. It wasn't until we were divorced that we became good Catholics again."
Finally Don's marriage did break apart and he managed to get his start in show business. In 1957, he met Dorothy Bracken, a former June Taylor dancer. They were both members of the same repertory company at Lake George, New York. Three years later they were married. Having been in show business, Dorothy was prepared for the struggle of the next few years as Don worked to establish himself. But even then there were little hurts.
For instance, even though she asked him not to, Don began making fun of Dorothy in his comic routines. He explained that "wife jokes" and "mother-in-law" jokes were standard for any comedian. Nevertheless they hurt.
"My wife is half-Irish and half-German," Don would quip. "I'm half-Irish and half-Jewish. That's the part that gets us into trouble. I won't tell you what kind of a German she is, but she still gets post cards from an uncle in Argentina."
It seemed such a little thing to complain about, and Dorothy tried to understand. Still...
Don and Dorothy had put off having children until Don was established in his career. Remembering his feeling of being trapped, the feeling that broke up his first marriage, Dorothy didn't want to put Don under any necessary pressure at home. Then two things happened all at once. Dorothy learned she was pregnant and Don got the lead in the series which has made him a star. And right from the first, trouble began. Knowing that Don's time would be taken up with work on the series, Dorothy thought it best if she waited out her confinement at her parents' home in Long Island. This meant that Dorothy had to go through the last months of her pregnancy alone, without her husband beside her. She had to leave the hospital alone, and when their daughter, Stacy Noel, was born, Don didn't see the baby for five long weeks!
Then, to make matters worse, when Don finally did get to see Dorothy and their baby daughter, he neglected Dorothy almost totally in his excitement over Stacey! Even a woman as beautiful as Dorothy Adams needs reassurance that she is still lovely and desirable after having a baby. There are always a few pounds to loose. Every woman needs her husband badly at this time to tell her he still loves her and to reassure her that just because she has become a mother she will not stop being a wife.
"I was a bit inconsiderate to my wife," Don admits, remembering back to that day when he finally met his daughter. "She was looking wonderful but I didn't even look at her. All I saw was the baby."
Dorothy, of course, understood Don's excitement and felt not event the slightest twinge of jealousy. But it's one thing to share your husband with your daughter and quite another to have to share him with the demands of a career which five days a week keep him out of the house from six in the morning until ten at night.
Dorothy combats her loneliness by keeping busy. She does much of her own cleaning and most of her own cooking. But instead of realizing that she does this because she has to keep her mind off her troubles, Don makes fun of his wife's domestic abilities. "She's great at making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches," he kids.
Dorothy also fills up her day with staying attractive for Don, even though he has so little time to appreciate her efforts. "I do something physical every day," she says. "I'm out through the bedroom door to the pool before breakfast. I have dancing lessons every Wednesday. I dance all over the house--even while washing dishes."
But sadly, she rarely gets a chance to dance with her husband.
In an attempt to make up for his neglect, Don has given Dorothy a watch engraved "I love you" on the back, with "more than the whole world" on one side, and "with my whole heart" on the other. It's a lovely gift, but a watch only reminds Dorothy of how little time her husband has for her. There have been other expensive gifts--a bracelet with a wedding-bell charm engraved "I'm yours till time bids both farewell." For their sixth wedding anniversary Don gave Dorothy a solid silver jewel box, which when opened sets off a tiny battery operated recording of Don reciting "their song." But a recording is not a real voice and no number of gifts can make up to Dorothy Adams for the hours Don has to steal from her and give to his career.
The two great causes of Hollywood divorces are career pressures or conflicts and the easy availability of other attractive partners. Don has not strayed, but he is in a business where everyday he comes in contact with beautiful women--on the set, in the press offices, at luncheons. When a man is tired and overworked, when he is unable to get home to his family, often he seeks the company of another woman--first just to talk to, later who knows?
How much longer will Don be able to resist the "other women" in his life? How much longer will Dorothy Adams be able to be patient and understanding? Yes, tragically, it seems there is a great danger ahead for the Don Adams' marriage. We can only hope that the sincere love which Don and Dorothy share will be enough to get them through these difficult years, for if they do they will have a love as strong as steel which has been forged by fire.
by Tom Daly
Webmasters note: Yes, I left in the glorious boo-boos. I'm also sorry about the crop job I had to do on the one photo and I personally would like to blame that on the magazine's binding.