Julie Adams, a Hollywood film and television actress for more than six decades widely remembered as the terrorized swimmer in the 1954 cult classic “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” died Sunday in Los Angeles. She was 92.
Her death was confirmed by her son Steve Danton.
A lithe beauty from Arkansas — she was Miss Little Rock of 1946 — Adams subdued her Southern drawl, got into the movies in 1949, and appeared in about 50 feature films with a who’s who of leading men, including Charlton Heston, Glenn Ford, Tony Curtis, and Elvis Presley.
Her starring breakthrough under a long-term contract with Universal-International Pictures was Anthony Mann’s “Bend of the River” (1952), in which she played a frontier woman who falls for James Stewart in a cast that also included Rock Hudson and Arthur Kennedy. It was one of the top box office hits of the year.
A year later, she starred with Tyrone Power in “The Mississippi Gambler” and with Van Heflin in “Wings of the Hawk.” Critics called both films standard, if scenic, but praised Adams’ performances.
Her slender, expressive face, flitting from joy to love to fear as needed but never far from tears, became familiar to millions on television.
She was seen on more than 90 series, including “The Rifleman,” “Bonanza,” and “Perry Mason” in the 1960s; “Mannix” and “Marcus Welby, M.D.” in the ’70s; “Capitol” in the ’80s; and “Murder, She Wrote” (1987-93), on which she played a real estate agent and friend of the show’s central character, writer and amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher, played by Angela Lansbury.
In a retrospective interview with film historian Tom Weaver in 1991, Adams voiced no serious regrets, although she noted, “No matter what you do, you can act your heart out, but people will always say, ‘Oh, Julie Adams — “Creature From the Black Lagoon.” ’
Critics were unenthusiastic. But the film, directed by Jack Arnold, was a hit, taking in $1.3 million at the box office (a little more than $12 million in today’s money), even though not every theater showed it in 3-D. It generated two sequels, “Revenge of the Creature” (1955) and “The Creature Walks Among Us” (1956), both starring other women.
The original attracted later generations of fans when it was rereleased to theaters in 1975 and on home video in 1980.
In 2011 she published an autobiography, “The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections From the Black Lagoon,” written with her son Mitchell Danton.
In 2012 she starred at three conventions for science fiction and horror fans: Monsterpalooza in Burbank, Calif.; WonderFest in Louisville, Ky.; and Monster Bash in Butler, Pa.