Monday, September 9, 2013


Van Heflin & Julie Adams in WINGS OF THE HAWK

Conducted September 7th, 2013

For Hollywood, the 1950s and 60s were the era of the blonde bombshell.  But it was also a time of some striking brunettes, and few made a more lasting impression than the lady whose long black tresses and white one-piece swimsuit made her Fay Wray to THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, Julie Adams. 

But Julie Adams was much more than catnip to a 3D lizard; a stunning beauty with a sultry voice that could portray sincerity or scheming, she always portrayed intelligence.  She was the thinking man’s western beauty, and her characters were rarely the type who just reloaded while her man fired out of the cabin window.  In at least fifteen Western features and dozens of Western TV episodes, she played the sort of strong three-dimensional women that previously only Barbara Stanwyck got to play – and sometimes she played them with Barbara Stanwyck!

And speaking of three-dimensional characters, she starred in two 3D movies, both of which are being featured in the WORLD 3D FILM EXPO III, which opened on Friday night at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, and will run for ten days.  CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON played on Saturday night, and on this Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm, WINGS OF THE HAWK will be shown.  This Budd Beotticher-directed classic is rarely seen in any version, and it’s been years since it played in 3D.   Miss Adams, who stars with Van Heflin in the film, will attend, and take part in a Q&A.  She will also be signing her autobiography, THE LUCKY SOUTHERN STAR – REFLECTIONS FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, which I will be reviewing here shortly.  In it she discusses, along with CREATURE, and her other films, all of her Western movies, and many of her TV appearances.

After some parts in early live TV, and before she became a contract star at Universal, she cut her celluloid teeth working in Westerns for the small independent, Lippert Pictures.  She graciously spent an hour talking to me until she had to rush off for her BLACK LAGOON screening.     

HENRY PARKE:  Miss Adams, it’s great to talk to you.  I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time, and oddly enough, I like your westerns even more than I like THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.

JULIE ADAMS: Well that’s great, because I love doing westerns.  I loved seeing western movies when I was a kid, so my dream came true, and I actually got to act in westerns, and ride those beautiful horses. 

HENRY:  Before you started acting in them, what westerns did you like in particular?

JULIE:  I loved them all.  I went to Saturday westerns mostly, with different stars, but I was more in love with the horses than the actors.  I loved the stories, I loved the outdoors.  I just loved it all.

HENRY:  As far as I know, the first western you did was with Don ‘Red’ Barry, THE DALTON GANG, in 1949. 

JULIE:  You’re absolutely right.

HENRY:  Don Barry’s always been a personal favorite of mine.  What was he like to work with?

JULIE:  I loved to work with him; he was wonderful.  A very nice fellow, extremely polished in the western genre. 

HENRY:  You did a half dozen Westerns for an independent company, Lippert Pictures, in 1950.  I understand that they were shot simultaneously, with the same casts.  They’d do the saloon scenes for all six films, then the ranch house scenes for all six, and so forth. That must have been a crash course in acting.

JULIE:  Well, it was exciting.  Because we did six or seven westerns in just five weeks.  So it was exciting, and it was extremely concentrated.  It was great training for me, because you didn’t have time to think about things too much; just went and did it! (laughs)  I went out and took some riding lessons before I started.  Within the western genre, the horses that are trained for westerns are so easy to ride; you can guide them, and they respond to anything you do, whichever way you want to go.  Horses can really make you look good. 

HENRY: In 1952 you were under contract to Universal Pictures, and you starred with Jimmy Stewart in one of the legendary Stewart and director Anthony Mann collaborations, BEND OF THE RIVER.  Which was quite a substantial step up from Lippert.  What was Anthony Mann like to work with?

James Stewart and Julie in BEND OF THE RIVER

JULIE:  Anthony Mann was really a wonderful director.  He knew what he was doing, and he knew what he wanted, and he made you feel very secure.  You had a good man at the head of the chain.  Everything he directed you to do made sense.  He really knew the western genre so well.  I was very happy working with him; I loved doing BEND OF THE RIVER, and of course to work with James Stewart was great. 

HENRY:  The first action in the film is your character, Laura, getting shot with an arrow.  Which was really unexpected – you don’t usually shoot the beautiful people early; you shoot the little guys.  Laura is so tough and resourceful – much more than you expect western women of that movie era to be. 

JULIE:  I loved that, because I had done some of the Lippert westerns where the women were more – well, the guys were just looking after them.  I loved that she was that active, and could take care of herself.

HENRY:  Almost twenty years after that you were again starring with James Stewart in THE JIMMY STEWART SHOW. 

JULIE:  Oh yes!  Well, my idea of heaven was going to work with Jimmy Stewart every day for six months.  He was a wonderful actor and a wonderful man.  A charming person, very easy to work with and just so good at what he did.  He was a wonderful screen actor, or course.  I enjoyed it enormously.

HENRY:  How did you like Jay C. Flippen, who played your father? 

JULIE:  Jay was a great guy – funny and fun and great to work with. 

HENRY:  In real life, would you have had a hard time choosing between Jimmy Stewart and Arthur Kennedy?

JULIE:  (laughs)  Fortunately I never had to make that decision. 

HENRY:  HORIZONS WEST was the first of three exceptional westerns you starred in for Budd Boetticher, followed by MAN FROM THE ALAMO, and a film featured in the current 3D expo, WINGS OF THE HAWK.  Boetticher frequently used his male stars again and again, but not his leading ladies.  I’m wondering, what made you different, that he used you so often?

JULIE:  I don’t know; I guess he just thought that I fit into the Westerns very well.  And also, in one of them I did a great deal of riding.  I think he was impressed that I could do that.  We got along very well, very well indeed.  And I love to work, so we had a good time, and it was exciting.

Shades of LAURA -- Julie with her portrait

HENRY:  In HORIZONS WEST, you’re married to despicable Raymond Burr. 

JULIE: (laughs) He was really a lovely man!

HENRY:  As with Jimmy Stewart, you later worked with him frequently on PERRY MASON. 

Julie guesting with Raymond Burr on PERRY MASON

JULIE:  I worked with him on IRONSIDES, too.  He was also with me on the USO Tour of Korea.  He was just wonderful.  I still get a lot of mail about THE CASE OF THE DEADLY VERDICT, the case that Perry Mason lost.  I was supposed to go to the electric chair, but they finally solved it at the last minute, so I didn’t have to get executed.  It’s a very popular episode in law schools – they all love that one! 

HENRY:  Like Anthony Mann, Budd Boetticher was one of the giants of the Western.

JULIE:  Boetticher was fun to work with, because he was so into the action of it all, to make things exciting.  In other Westerns they’d take more time for the plot, and other things, but Boetticher loved the action, and I enjoyed that too.  He was a very good director for westerns, because he knew how to keep it going; keep it all moving.  You slow down, and people, viewers, drop out. 

HENRY:  In WINGS OF THE HAWK, how did you like playing a Mexican Revolutionary? 

JULIE:  I loved it!  (laughs) Only thing I didn’t like  was going to make-up and getting that black greasepaint put in my hair every day.  Bud Westmore did my make-up, and Joan St. Oegger did my hair.  The two heads of the department really fixed me up for that role.  So they wouldn’t have to dye my hair, she put black greasepaint in the edges of my hair, and pinned it back, and on top I had two black switches, so it looked like I had a lot of hair.  They were very very good in make-up and hair in Universal.  I loved the character, and I had a great outfit to wear – the clothes were great – and I got to go out with a wrangler.  At Universal they had wranglers to help people out.  And I rode Pie, the horse that James Stewart always rode; I got a great horse to ride.  I went on every day for three weeks.  And I learned to do running dismounts and all sorts of things on the horse.   So I had a great time. 

HENRY:  I believe that was your first 3D movie – there’re not too many people who have, like you, done more than one.  What challenges did the 3D process present? 

JULIE:  It was all up to the camera people.  As far as acting went, I felt comfortable because we played the scenes as always.  All the 3D problems had nothing to do with me; that was there problem, to make the 3D work.  But I enjoyed it as I enjoyed everything.

HENRY:  How did you like working with Van Heflin?

JULIE:  What a wonderful actor Van Heflin was – I loved working with him.  He was a charming man, and just a fine actor.  So I loved playing scenes with him; I liked him as a person. 

HENRY:  How did you like working with Glenn Ford in THE MAN FROM THE ALAMO? 

Julie and Glenn Ford in MAN FROM THE ALAMO

JULIE:  Once again, a real pro, and very good.  He was not, I don’t know, quite as loose and charming as some of the other actors.  But very good at his job, and I enjoyed working with him.  He was very good in the picture. 

HENRY:  You co-starred six times with Rock Hudson, four of them westerns.  How did you like working with him?

JULIE:  Rock Hudson was a pal, a great friend.  We worked together in BEND OF THE RIVER, where Rock and Lori Nelson and I were the young people, and after that there was such a big audience reaction that they put Rock and me together in THE LAWLESS BREED as the stars. 

HENRY:  With Rock as John Wesley Hardin. 

Rock Hudson and Julie in THE LAWLESS BREED

JULIE:  I had great fun playing a dancehall girl.  I got to have sort of a drop-shoulder thing, and I was serving up drinks at the bar to men, and that was fun.

HENRY:  Universal seemed very careful to give you really good wardrobes all the time.  Your clothes are just so striking.

JULIE:  For that we have to give credit to the Universal people, to Rosemary Odell, who designed most of the clothes – and they made them right up in wardrobe.  They did a great job; that wonderful department.  They made sketches of the costumes, that were submitted to the producer and the director and me, and then they were custom-made. 

HENRY: Hugh O’Brien had supporting roles in three of your westerns before WYATT EARP made him a star.  Did he seem to have star-potential back then?

JULIE:  In those days, we never thought about that exactly, when we were working.  I wasn’t a big star in it: I was the girl in it, and Hugh always did his job well, and later I was delighted when he got a show of his own.  Hugh O’Brien actually was with us at the MAN FROM THE ALAMO screening at The Egyptian back in February.  He’s got a good part in ALAMO; he’s a good actor. 

Julie's pinned with a flaming arrow in

HENRY:  After CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, you started branching out into many other kinds of stories that were not Westerns.  Were you glad to get out of a rut?

JULIE:  Because I grew up as a kid loving westerns, I never felt that I was in a rut when I was in a Western; I felt very much at home, and had a good time doing it.  But I was also delighted to expand my genre, to work in other kinds of films, with other kinds of actors.  I just plain love to work.

HENRY: In the fifties and sixties you guest-starred on many western series – CHEYENNE, MAVERICK YANCY DERRINGER, BONANZA, BIG VALLEY, THE RIFLEMAN, THE VIRGINIAN.  Were any particularly memorable? 

JULIE:  The three that really stand out are Nora, in THE RIFLEMAN, where I play a mysterious woman from McCain’s – that’s Chuck Connors – past.  There was The Courtship episode of BONANZA, where I’m engaged to Hoss briefly, before they find out I’ve got a gambling addiction.  I had scenes with each of the BONANZA stars, interrogating me.  They didn’t want me to marry Hoss and gamble away the Ponderosa! Then there’s The Emperor of Rice episode of THE BIG VALLEY.  I’ve got a showdown with Barbara Stanwyck, in a basement fire, coming through the smoke.  I was pushing Barbara Stanwyck around.  Those three kind of helped me break out of that ‘good girl’ image at I had in the Universal westerns. 

HENRY:  How did you like Chuck Connors?

JULIE:  I liked him a lot; very good at his job, and a really nice fellow.

HENRY:  Aside from those three, were there any western TV shows that were particular favorites?

JULIE:  I did two MAVERICKs with Jack Kelly that were fun. 

HENRY:  Was the pace of TV production a lot faster than feature work?

JULIE:  Well, of course, but there was really not a lot of difference, because I prepared the same way all the time.  I tried to get the character as fully developed as I could, whoever she was.  And so I’d just kind of take it in stride. 

HENRY:  In 1959 you starred opposite Joel McCrea playing Bat Masterson in THE GUNFIGHT AT 
DODGE CITY.  What was McCrea like to work with?

JULIE:  I can only say it was absolutely wonderful, because he was such a pro at what he was doing.  So you could completely relax, and just play your part.  He was very much at home in the western genre, and he was so good.  I guess I just loved to work, and I was very lucky I worked with so many good people.  Joel McCrea was the real McCoy – he was just what you saw on the screen.  Very handsome, and fun to work with.  I met his grandson, Wyatt McCrea, in Arizona this past March.  A very sweet guy who loves westerns, too. 

Julie with Elvis in TICKLE ME

HENRY:  I understand you did a movie with Elvis.

JULIE:  TICKLE ME.  I run a dude ranch, and he works at the dude ranch.  It’s like the boss and the secretary: I called him into my office and chased him around the desk.  What a delightful young man.


The festival of 3D movies which began on Friday night with John Wayne in HONDO will continue through next Sunday night – ten days and nights of things flying at you from the screen!  Of particular interest to Western fans is TAZA – SON OF COCHISE, on Wednesday, at 4:15 pm.  This Douglas Sirk – directed western stars Rock Hudson, Barbara Rush, and Rex Reason. 

And of course, on Friday, at 3:30 pm, WINGS OF THE HAWK, directed by Budd Boetticher and starring Van Heflin and Julie Adams will screen – and Julie Adams will be there to answer questions, and sign her book – see details in the interview above.    To see a complete schedule for the Expo, go HERE.


As part of the Autry’s ‘What is a Western?’ series, the film that rejuvenated an aging and ailing genre, Sergio Leone’s ‘A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS’ will screen at 1:30 pm.  While in much of Europe, the original ‘DJANGO’ was the more celebrated, it is impossible to overstate the influence of ‘FISTFUL’, and the Man in Black trilogy as a whole, on American and European Western films.  There is virtually no Western film to come after, including the work of Sam Peckinpah  and Don Seigal, that was not measurably affected by Leone.  Incidentally, on October 12th, they’ll screen ‘FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE’, and on November 2nd, ‘THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY.’  While you’re at the Autry, check out the IMAGINATION GALLERY, with many artifacts on display relating to Leone, Clint Eastwood, and their films.


That’s it for this weekend’s Round-up.  If you’re in L.A. this week, I urge you to check out the 3D Expo, and FISTFUL at the Autry.  The chance to see movies the way they are meant to be seen, on a big screen, with a 35mm print, are getting more and more rare.  Don’t pass ‘em up!

Happy Trails,


All Original Contents Copyright September 2013 by Henry C. Parke – All Right Reserved



  1. Thank you. I have always loved Julie Adams and her work.

  2. Just loved Julie working simultaneously on "Murder She Wrote" and the daytime soap "Capitol" as the deliciously demented Paula Denning. During that time, my L.A. TV station re-ran a few of the westerns done. A soap opera digest article asked at the time, "What other celebrity are you often confused with?" Patricia Barry stated that she was sometimes confused with Arlene Dahl, and Julie said that sometimes people thought that she was the other Julie known as Miss Harris who was on "Knot's Landing" at the time. In both cases, each lady was flattered! In my case, as a 20 something at the time, I loved "Capitol" for its focus on three older women, and am glad to have my tapes of those shows.