Born Betty May Adams in Iowa on October 17, 1926, Adams moved many times with her family, winning the title of Miss Little Rock at age 19.
She launched her Hollywood career in 1949 with an appearance on "Your Show Time." Credited as Betty May, then Julia, and eventually Julie Adams, she worked steadily, appearing at first in westerns. Her most memorable role from that era was in "Bend of the River" (1952).
One of the most famous horror images in movie history
Her defining moment on the big screen came in the 1954 horror classic "Creature from the Black Lagoon," which featured inventive — and creepy — underwater photography that allowed audiences to watch Adams frolicking while the titular monster (stuntman Ricou Browning in an iconic costume) lurked just below. The movie was often recalled in reviews of last year's Oscar winner, "The Shape of Water."
With George Nader in "Four Girls in Town" (1957)
Among Adams' many other credits, she played one of Perry Mason's few guilty clients (1963); starred opposite Elvis Presley in "Tickle Me" (1965); served as Jimmy Stewart's wife on TV's "The Jimmy Stewart Show" (1971-1972); played agoraphobe Paula Denning on the soap "Capitol" (1984-1986); and was the town realtor Eve Simpson on "Murder, She Wrote" (1987-1993).
Adams continued working for most of her life. Her final on-camera, credited role in a feature film was 2006's "World Trade Center," and her last TV role was in the miniseries "Lost: Missing Pieces" (2008). Just last year, she appeared in a short film based on her 2011 memoir "The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections from the Black Lagoon."
Adams with Ray Danton, the co-star who became her husband
She was first married to screenwriter, director, and "Mad Libs" co-creator Leonard B. Stern from 1951-1953, and then to actor Ray Danton from 1954-1981.
Adams in 2011
Adams is survived by her two sons with Danton, Steven (b. 1956) and Mitch (b. 1962); their wives; and four grandchildren.