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Joey Adams And His Cindy

Comedian Joey and comedienne Cindy Adams have a marriage based on true love and laughter, nonsense and nearness, ribbing and respect.

They also have a tremendous zest for living and a wealth of talent which reaches into many fields.

They have a television series in the works, they are frequent guest stars: and night club headliners. MGM Records has just released an LP in which they trade wise-cracks. The Popular Library 35c paperback edition of their best seller, “Cindy And I,” is due for Fall publication. A new book, “It Takes One To Know One,” comes out in November. Cindy also writes two syndicated news columns.

For each spouse, the favorite target is the other. Joey, the clown, describes Cindy: “My cover girl is 5 3½’’ tall, weighs 110 pounds—with full makeup, 125 pounds. She’s easily recognized by her patent leather haircomb. I don’t know whether she combs it with an iron or paints it on. I finally discovered why she never shuts her mouth; her hair is too tight.”

Cindy, with a feline stretch, says, “Joey has more sides than the Pentagon. He’s a producer, director, actor, writer, comedian, toastmaster and philanthropist. He appears in TV, movies, records, radio, night clubs, theatres, but seldom in the barber’s chair. When he does make his annual personal appearance at the barber shop, he looks as though he’s wearing a Davy Crockett hat. Joey is slightly sensitive about the barely perceptible bald spot at the back of his head. He doesn’t exactly admit to this sensitivity but whenever he leaves a room, he backs out.”

But for each barbed shaft, there is also a revealing bit of tenderness. Says Joey, “When Cindy’s pop gave me her hand in marriage on Valentine’s Day, 1952, I took it in mine and I haven’t let go of it since. I never met a girl with a bigger heart. She’s the prettiest, wittiest, darlingest, most affectionate girl in the whole wide world. She’s the nicest Valentine I ever got in my life.”

Cindy says fondly, “Joey is my funny Valentine. He’s lovable, genuine, kind, charitable, thoughtful, understanding, and I wish I could share him with all of you. But there just isn’t enough to go around.”

Fate sealed Joey to comedy when he was only four. He recalls, “I was standing on a Brooklyn street corner, waving my arms, shouting, and imitating a politician giving a speech. The little man at the edge of the crowd who laughed the hardest turned out to be none other than Fiorello LaGuardia.”

The friendship which began that day remained strong through Joey’s days in public school and at the College Of The City Of New York, through his performing apprenticeship at amateur shows and on the Borscht circuit. The mayor was on hand when his protege made his Broadway bow at Loew’s State. He also brought his friends. When the theatre manager saw the police commissioner, the fire commissioner and assorted other brass gather in the lobby, he rushed up, frantic. “What’s wrong, Mr. Mayor?” he demanded. “Whatever it is, give us another chance. What can we do?”

The Mayor’s eyes twinkled. “Just give Joey Adams a raise and hold him over for another week.”

Cindy Heller’s classic beauty made her a cover girl while she was still in her teens. She played bit parts in a few movies and 57 times she was chosen Miss Something Or Another. Cindy chafed at posing serene and silent. “I like to make people laugh. Under all the layers of glamour, I really was at heart, a baggy-pants comedian.”

Audiences, however, did not expect a young, pretty girl to be funny. Wistfully, she recalls, “I’m probably the only gal who got cancelled out of a show at a Philadelphia tryout. The director pointed a finger at me and said, ‘You’re not going on.’ ”

Her friend, Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom, consoled her by taking her to the Copacabana. A radio show then originated there. He said, “I know the commentator. He’ll interview you and you can try your gags on the air.”

Cindy’s ardor to tell jokes diminished when Joey Adams, complete with entourage—press agent, manager, writers and a couple of cousins—walked in. Maxie introduced them. He also stuck close. Joey could only whisper, “Are you going with Maxie?” and Cindy could only say, “He’s just a friend.”

Cindy mourns, “Joey didn’t even get a chance to ask for my phone number. But I knew Joey lived at the Waldorf-Astoria. Shrinking violet, me. I phoned him the next morning to ask him if he would take me out to lunch.”

Two years later, they were married. Their honeymoon took them to London, Paris, Rome, Israel. They had a private audience with the Pope and when they reached Jerusalem, Joey, who had sold three million dollars worth of bonds for Israel, was a guest of honor of the government. Proudly, Cindy recalls, “He even made David Ben-Gurion laugh.”

Another major tour took them around the world, at their own expense, to entertain the Armed Forces.

It was rugged. Often they went by helicopter and jeep to remote installations where large entertainment units never penetrated. On their return, Joey set himself the task of telephoning some 1.500 families. Often the message from a GI who had been downy-faced when he left home was, “Tell my mother I’ve become a man.”

He was ready to tear up his address book, however, when a New Jersey woman replied, “That’s interesting. I’m the mother of a WAC.”

Between trips, Cindy settled into Joey’s Fifth Avenue apartment, overlooking Central Park. He had been proud of its decor. Cindy sniffed, “It’s done in early scrapbook,” and proceeded to convert it into her own favorite color scheme of black, white and red.

From a mirror-lined, red-and-white tiled foyer, one enters a living room where the rug is deep red, the sofa black and the chairs are upholstered in black and white checks. The big desk where both Joey and Cindy write is at the picture window. One wall is solid with bright-jacketed books on white shelves. Oil portraits, several of Joey and Cindy, are interspersed with landscapes above the sofa.

It is a charming and gracious apartment and one which also reveals the serious side of the lives of these always-laughing comics. The walls of the dining room and the foyer are covered with some 100 plaques and scrolls conveying the appreciation of nearly every major charitable organization in the country to comedian Joey Adams for his generosity in benefits. His major citation this season came from The March Of Dimes which named him Man Of The Year.

Cindy may say facetiously, “Joey has done benefits to fight diseases that haven’t even been discovered yet,” and “If Joey doesn’t stop doing benefits for everyone else, some one will have to do a benefit for the Adamses,” but inwardly she is proud of her big-hearted husband. She says sincerely, “Joey is grateful for all the good things God has given to him. I don’t think he would be able to live with himself if he didn’t try to pass some of this goodness along to others.”





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