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Born in Brooklyn: Late comedian Joey Adams would be 106

Renowned Comedian and Columnist Was Born Jan. 6, 1911

January 5, 2017 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Joey Adams. AP photo
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The late Brooklyn-born actor, author and comedian Joey Adams, who was born Joseph Abramowitz, would celebrate his 106th birthday today. The borough favorite grew up in Brownsville, a predominantly Jewish section of the borough at the time of his birth in 1911, and he attended P.S. 171, Patrick Henry Junior High School and DeWitt Clinton High School. He studied at City College of New York but never graduated, as he left school to perform in vaudeville and chose to pursue a career as an entertainer.  

It was during this time that he began appearing as a stand-up comic at the Roxy and Paramount theaters, and in the summer he worked the “borscht belt” entertaining guests at the Jewish resorts in the Catskill Mountains. Initially, he performed as Joey Abrams, before changing his name to Joey Adams in 1930. Around this time, he helped organize amateur shows, serving as master of ceremonies at the Loew’s Pitkin Theatre in Brooklyn.

In 1941 he began to gain recognition, thanks in part to the writers who mentioned him in their columns.  Ironically, Adams would go on to become a renowned columnist in his own right, penning “Strictly for Laughs,” a humor column that appeared in the New York Post from the mid-1970s until 1998. His wife Cindy Adams, whom he married in 1952, still writes a popular column for the Post.

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Adams enjoyed a multifaceted career that lasted 70 years. He hosted his own radio show and wrote 23 books, including his classic “From Gags to Riches,” “Joey Adams Joke Book” and “Laugh Your Calories Away.” He was named a personal representative of Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon, traveling the world as a goodwill ambassador. He wrote about these travels in this 1963 book “On the Road for Uncle Sam.”

Adams also appeared in films, from “Ringside” in 1949 to “Silent Prey” in 1997. In 1956 he produced and starred in the movie “Singing in the Dark” alongside his wife Cindy. He was a popular guest on television variety shows including “The Steve Allen Show,” “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Jackie Gleason Show.” In 1957 he hosted his own short-lived television series “The Joey Adams Show.” And during the ’90s he was a featured guest on Howard Stern’s show.

He was inducted into the New York Friar’s Club in 1977 and received honorary doctorates in comedy from City College, Columbia University, Long Island University and New York University.

Adams died on Dec. 2, 1999. Eulogies were delivered by his widow Cindy and then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In a New York magazine article, Cindy admitted, “My career came because I married Joey.” In a Talk magazine interview, Cindy said, referring to Joey, “This man gave me everything. Everything I have, I got from him. He introduced me to the world.”


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