World of Westfahl | Encyclopedia Introduction | All Entries | Acknowledgements
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A Entries
Forrest J Ackerman
Nick Adams
John Agar
Philson Ahn
William Alland
Irwin Allen
Woody Allen
Kirstie Alley
Gerry Anderson
Michael Anderson
Sylvia Anderson
Jack Arnold
(Nicholas Adamshock 1931–1968). American actor.

Acted in: "Fun and Games" (1964), episode of The Outer Limits; "Turn Back the Clock" (1964), episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea; Die, Monster, Die (Daniel Haller 1965); "The Night of the Two-Legged Buffalo" (1966), "The Night of the Vipers" (1968), episodes of The Wild, Wild West; Frankenstein Conquers the World (Inoshiro HONDA 1966); Monster Zero (Honda 1966); Mission Mars (Nicolas Webster 1968).
"Johnny Yuma was a rebel, he roamed the West ...." If the words to this theme song bring back memories of its melody, you identify yourself as someone not particularly young, and as someone not particularly a connoisseur of quality television, because The Rebel (1959–1961) was a pretty lousy series, and lead performer Nick Adams was a pretty lousy actor. Yet improbably, the short-lived series was successful enough to establish Adams as a star, and a prescient viewer might have predicted at the time that he would someday earn a place in the annals of science fiction film. After all, once you link together the phrases "handsome young actor," "absolutely no talent," and "briefly famous," it is almost inevitable that "recurring star of bad science fiction movies" will be added to the string.

The only quality that Adams could persuasively project on film was a desperate desire to be popular, to be liked. Initially, one is virtually forced to respond positively to this insistent congeniality, which helps to explain why Adams got his foot in many doors; but his one-note, puppy-like eagerness to please can also become very tiresome very quickly, which helps to explain why Adams always wore out his welcome and had to move on.

As part of the steadily downward spiral that defined his career in the 1960s, Adams made the rounds as a television guest star; I unfortunately missed his contributions to Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and The Wild, Wild West, but his inept, strained heroism in "Fun and Games," an episode of The Outer Limits, stood out in a series that usually relied on skilled performers shrewdly cast. He took a break and traveled to England to serve as the romantic lead in the Jerry SOHL-scripted Die, Monster, Die, but even a decrepit, indifferent Boris KARLOFF effortlessly upstaged him. At this point, the only voices answering his agent's phone calls were in Japanese, so Adams dutifully packed his bags and flew to Tokyo to serve as the token Caucasian star who would lure American viewers to the latest Inoshiro HONDA epics. In Frankenstein Conquers the World, Adams seems annoyed by the unusually inane plot and makes no attempt to transcend his characteristic mediocrity. But Monster Zero is an anomaly; as if Adams was anxious to land a contract for a third Honda film that never materialized, he throws his heart and soul into this initially serious space adventure that degenerates into an interplanetary duel of rubber-suited monsters, trying ever so hard to show how much he likes all his Japanese friends and how much he cares about the need to prevent evil aliens from conquering the world. It still doesn't qualify as great acting, but if an actor can make you feel for him, even for all the wrong reasons, you have to concede that he has done something to earn his salary.

After returning to America for the rarely seen, and utterly dreadful, Mission Mars, Adams was then caught up in the most involving drama of his career: his sudden, unexpected death at the age of thirty-seven. The most probable cause of death would seem to be suicide by means of a deliberate overdose of a prescription drug he was taking, but skeptics have murmured that Adams couldn't possibly have taken his own life because he was—get this—scheduled to fly to Rome to star in a new Italian movie, precisely the sort of assignment to fill the heart of a former Academy Award nominee with unalloyed ecstacy. Yet it requires a certain amount of mental toughness to follow in the footsteps of Cameron MITCHELL and John SAXON, to endlessly serve as the token American in forgettable foreign films, and Adams may have been horrified to see his career turning in that direction, requiring him to constantly travel to new countries, to constantly cultivate new filmmakers and new audiences. And, if suicide wasn't the cause, who in the film community could have been angry enough at Adams to arrange for his murder? After all, if incompetent acting was enough to inspire homicides, the streets of Hollywood would be strewn with corpses.

Conspiracy theorists can spin their webs, then, but I strongly suspect that Adams had simply worn himself out in his ceaseless efforts to find a home on a set, any set, to keep trying to make a living as an actor when he really couldn't act. His short, unhappy life ultimately invites consideration as another Hollywood horror story, far more affecting than anything Adams ever portrayed on the screen.

To contact us about encyclopedia matters, send an email to Gary Westfahl.
If you find any Web site errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to our Webmaster.
Copyright © 1999–2016 Gary Westfahl All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Hosted & Designed By:
SF Site spot art