Nick Adams (actor) : biography
Nick Adams (July 10, 1931February 7, 1968) was an Academy Award nominated American film and television actor. He was noted for his roles in several successful Hollywood films during the 1950s and 1960s along with his starring role in the ABC television series The Rebel (1959). Decades after Adams’ death from a prescription drug overdose at the age of 36, his widely publicized friendships with James Dean and Elvis Presley would stir speculation about both his private life and the circumstances of his death. In an Allmovie synopsis for Adams’ last film, reviewer Dan Pavlides wrote, "Plagued by personal excesses, he will be remembered just as much for what he could have done in cinema as what he left behind."Dan Pavlides, Fandango, . Retrieved 7 December 2007.
After finishing Los Asesinos (1968) in Mexico Adams bought a plane ticket with his own money and flew to Rome to co-star with Aldo Ray in a SciFi horror movie called Murder in the Third Dimension, but when he got there, he found the project had been dropped. Susan Strasberg, who had worked with him 13 years earlier on the hit film Picnic and was living in Italy, encountered a thoroughly demoralized Adams in a Rome bar.Susan Strasberg, Bittersweet On the night of February 7, 1968 his lawyer and friend, ex-LAPD officer Erwin Roeder, drove to the actor’s house at 2126 El Roble Lane in Beverly Hills to check on him after a missed dinner appointment. Seeing a light on and his car in the garage, Roeder broke through a window and discovered Adams in his upstairs bedroom, slumped dead against a wall.
During the autopsy Dr. Thomas Noguchi found enough paraldehyde, sedatives and other drugs in the body "to cause instant unconsciousness." The death certificate lists "paraldehyde and promazine intoxication" as the immediate cause of death along with the notation accident; suicide; undetermined. During the 1960s drug interaction warnings were not so prominent as they later would be and the American Medical Association has subsequently warned these two types of drugs should never be taken together.
The death of Nick Adams has been cited in articles and books about Hollywood’s unsolved mysteries along with speculation by a few of Adams’ acquaintances he was murdered (but apparently with no motive ever offered) and claims no trace of paraldehyde (a liquid sedative often given to alcoholics at the time and one of two drugs attributed to his death) was ever found in his home. However, Adams’ brother Andrew had become a medical doctor and prescribed the sedative to him. Moreover, a story in the Los Angeles Times reported stoppered bottles with prescription labels were found in the medicine cabinet near the upstairs bedroom where Adams’ body was discovered. Through the years Adams’ children offered speculation ranging from murder to accidental death, the latter perhaps caused by Roeder while trying to calm the actor’s nerves with an unintentionally lethal combination of alcohol and prescription drugs (although the autopsy found no alcohol in Adams’ blood).Steve Ryfle, Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of "The Big G.", p.130 Adams’ best friend, actor Robert Conrad, has consistently maintained the death was accidental.
Carol Adams is listed as Adams’ spouse on his death certificate, evidence the divorce had not become final when the actor died. She and the children were living only a few blocks from Adams’ recently-rented house on El Roble Lane.
Nick Adams’ remains were buried in Berwick, Pennsylvania. He appeared in over 150 television series episodes and feature films throughout a 20 year career. Half of these were episodes of The Rebel. The back of his gravestone bears a silhouette of Adams in the civil-war era cap from his TV series and reads Nick Adams – the rebel – actor of hollywood screens.
Adams was an avid reader of fan magazines and came to believe he could meet agents and directors by being seen at the Warners Theater in Beverly Hills. He got a job there as doorman, usher and maintenance man, which included changing the notices on the theater marquee. He was fired after he put his own name up as a publicity stunt.