Joey Adams

Joey Adams (born Joseph Abramowitz; January 6, 1911 – December 2, 1999) was an American comedian, vaudevillian, radio host, nightclub performer and author, who was inducted into the New York Friars' Club in 1977 and wrote the book Borscht Belt in 1973.

Joey Adams
Joseph Abramowitz.jpg
Joey Adams
Joseph Abramowitz

(1911-01-06)January 6, 1911
DiedDecember 2, 1999(1999-12-02) (aged 88)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
  • comedian
  • vaudevillian
  • radio host
  • nightclub performer
  • author
  • labor union president
news columnist[1]
Spouse(s)Cindy Adams (1952-1999; his death)

Life and careerEdit

Adams was born in Brooklyn, New York as Joseph Abramowitz. For many years, he wrote the Strictly for Laughs column in the New York Post. His wife, Cindy Adams (to whom he was married from 1952 until his death), remains a society/gossip columnist for the same paper.

Adams' career spanned more than 70 years and included appearances in nightclubs and vaudeville shows. He also hosted for a while his own radio show and wrote 23 books, including From Gags to Riches, Joey Adams Joke Book, Laugh Your Calories Away, On the Road with Uncle Sam[2] and Encyclopedia of Humor. The Yale Book of Quotations cites him as being the first to say, "With friends like that, who needs enemies?"[3]

Adams as the host of the radio show Spend a Million, in 1954.

He made numerous television appearances over the years, including on The Ed Sullivan Show, Howard Stern's 1990s TV shows, and What's My Line?, and was in the films Singing in the Dark (1956, of which he was also executive producer), Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title (1966), and Silent Prey (1997). For many years, he hosted a radio talk show on WEVD in New York.[citation needed]


In 1963 Adams, then serving as AGVA president, helped to finance and organize a variety show in Birmingham, Alabama to raise funds for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Sharing the stage with Martin Luther King, Jr. were Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Joe Louis, Johnny Mathis, James Baldwin and The Shirelles.[4]

For his civic work, Adams was honored by presidents and statesmen, and he held honorary doctorates in comedy from his alma mater City College, and from Columbia University, Long Island University, and New York University.[citation needed]

He was active in the New York Friars Club and was president of the American Guild of Variety Artists AGVA. He was appointed as Commissioner of Youth for the City of New York by Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. emulating Fiorello LaGuardia's civic-mindness in recognition for his efforts in battling juvenile delinquency on behalf of the AGVA Youth Fund. Governor Nelson Rockefeller also encouraged him to spread his program throughout the entire state, and eventually it moved westward to California.[citation needed]


Adams died December 2, 1999, at St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan, aged 88, from heart failure. Eulogies were delivered by Adams' widow and Mayor Rudy Giuliani.[5] Services were held at Riverside Memorial Chapel.[6] His widow had his remains cremated.[7]


  1. ^ Owen Moritz (December 3, 1999). "Comic legend Joey Adams, the fastest joke teller in the East". New York Daily News. Retrieved October 25, 2015.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Adams, Joey. On the Road with Uncle Sam. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2020-02-05.
  3. ^ Shapiro, Fred R. (ed.) (2006). The Yale Book of Quotations. Yale University Press. p. 478.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Shull, Leo (1963-08-10). "Neither Heat, Bombs, Nor Birmingham Cops Shall Stop the Show—It Must Go On". Show Business. 23 (32). pp. 1, 10.
  5. ^ Owen Moritz (December 3, 1999). "Comic legend Joey Adams, the fastest joke teller in the East". New York Daily News. Retrieved October 25, 2015.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Graves, Neil (December 7, 1999). "More Laughs Than Tears at His Funeral". New York Daily News.
  7. ^ Boxer, Tim. "Joey Adams as Reverso Marrano: Jewish Celebrity & Secret Christian". 15 Minutes.

Further readingEdit

  • Smith, Ronald L. (1992). Who's Who in Comedy. New York: Facts on File. pp. 5, 6.

External linksEdit