Tony Adams, Film, TV and Stage Producer, Dead at 52

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24 Oct 2005

Tony Adams, the veteran film and stage producer whose credits include Blake Edwards' "Pink Panther" movies, "S.O.B., "10," and the film and stage versions of "Victor/Victoria," died of a stroke Oct. 22 at Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan.



Mr. Adams was 52 years old. Prior to his sudden death, Mr. Adams was a senior managing member of Hello Entertainment, a theatre producing company actively developing and producing Off-Broadway and Broadway shows, such as The Immigrant, A New American Musical.

Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews said in a statement, "We have known Tony for so many years; we felt he was our second son. He was a beloved, dear, trusted and talented friend. We are devastated at this sudden loss and we will miss him, his kindness and his wonderful sense of humor. Our thoughts go out to his family at this time."

Survivors include Mr. Adams' widow, the Broadway actress Anne Runolfsson.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Mr. Adams got his start in the film business as movie director John Boorman's personal assistant on the film "Deliverance." The picture's star, Burt Reynolds, heard that the teen-aged Mr. Adams wanted to stay in the U.S. and offered him a job on his Florida ranch, which paid for Mr. Adams' tuition at Atlantic College in Palm Beach. Reynolds and friend Dinah Shore spoke to Blake Edwards and Mr. Adams was off to Hollywood, where he worked with Edwards and his wife Julie Andrews, and attended Pepperdine University.

In 1975, Edwards went to London to shoot "The Return of the Pink Panther" starring Peter Sellers and Christopher Plummer, and gave the young Mr. Adams the responsibility of associate producer. He later became president of Blake Edwards Entertainment and produced (with Edwards) the following motion pictures: "The Pink Panther Strikes Again," "Revenge of the Pink Panther," "10," "S.O.B.," "Victor/Victoria," "Trail of the Pink Panther," "Curse of the Pink Panther" "The Man Who Loved Women," "Micki and Maude," "A Fine Mess," "That's Life!" "Blind Date," "Sunset," "Skin Deep," "Switch," "Son of the Pink Panther." He also produced the films "Millie" and "Peter Gunn."

The Broadway musical version of Victor/Victoria starring Julie Andrews brought Mr. Adams to New York in 1995. He also produced the Off-Broadway productions of The Immigrant (the musical) and Minor Demons.

Immigrant composer Steven M. Alper and lyricist Sarah Knapp, said in a statement: "Tony was an incredibly generous producer. He gave The Immigrant a beautiful production of which we know he was very proud, as were we. His ability to balance his substantial producing savvy with his creative eye and feeling heart made him a terrific guy to work with. His passing is shocking and a very deep loss."

For PBS he produced the "Lullaby of Broadway: Opening Night on 42nd Street," "Julie Andrews: Back on Broadway" and the acclaimed television series "My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies" and "My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs."

He also consulted and developed theatre, film and television projects for a broad base of domestic and international companies such as Walt Disney Theatrical Productions, Endemol/Stage Holding, Blake Edwards Entertainment and Ogden (Metropolitan Entertainment).

His TV, concert and recording credits over the years "Julie Andrews Live in Las Vegas, London and Tokyo"; "Liza in Tokyo"; "Frank, Julie, Placido and John" starring Frank Sinatra, Julie Andrews, Placido Domingo and John Denver; "One Night Only" with Robin Williams, Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett; "Because We Care," a CBS special with Danny Kaye, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Billy Crystal, Jane Fonda and John Travolta; "An Olympic Evening" with Cary Grant, Tom Jones and Anthony Newley; and "Life in a Looking Glass," a music video starring Tony Bennett.

He was a founding board member of the world relief organization Operation USA, a charity that has won many accolades, most notably a share of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its part in the International Campaign To Ban Landmines and the 1983 President's Volunteer Action Award, which Mr. Adams accepted from President Ronald Reagan on behalf of the charity. He traveled extensively with the group and was among the first assembly of Westerners back into Cambodia after the reign of terror by the Khmer Rouge (1979), where he delivered medicines and photographed victims of the Khmer Rouge which were published worldwide.

Mr. Adams was a co-founder of Show Coalition, a Hollywood political action committee and spearheaded fundraising drives for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

His first marriage to Avril Adams and his second marriage to Debrah Farentino ended in divorce. His survivors include his third wife, the Broadway actress Anne Runolfsson; two daughters Molly Adams of Santa Monica, CA, and Tess Adams of New York City; two sons Andrew Hopewell of Malibu, CA and Alister Adams of Toronto; four sisters Anne Adams, Joan Paybody, Teresa Deane, and Maeve Gallagher of Ireland; and four brothers John Adams of Ireland, Richard Adams of Los Angeles and Seamus Adams of England.

A funeral service is planned for 2 PM Oct. 25 at Holy Name of Jesus Church (96th Street and Amsterdam).

In lieu of flowers, the Adams family has requested that contributions be sent in his name to Operation USA at 8320 Melrose Ave. #200, Los Angeles, CA 90069 or via www.opusa.org.