Born: October 17, 1926;

Died: February 3, 2019

Julie Adams, who has died aged 92, appeared in more than 150 films and television shows in a career spanning almost 70 years and worked with such legendary figures as James Stewart, John Wayne and Elvis Presley. And so she had mixed feelings that she became best known for co-starring in a film with a man dressed as a giant fish.

Adams became “the girl from Creature From The Black Lagoon”, the low-budget, black and white 1954 monster movie that directly inspired director Guillermo del Toro to make his Oscar-winning 2017 fantasy The Shape of Water.

Just as Fay Wray had attracted the affections of King Kong in 1933, so Julie Adams caught the eye of the piscine humanoid when she goes for a swim in her fetching white bathing costume during a scientific expedition to a remote part of the Amazon two decades later. And just, as in King Kong, the inter-species romance does not end well for the ill-starred suitor.

The costume was rudimentary, but it caught the public imagination and the film became a huge hit and continued to attract audiences over the years. The film had a huge emotional impact on Guillermo del Toro when he first saw it as a small boy.

In the early 2000s del Toro was lined up for a remake for Universal Pictures, but he wanted to retell the story from the Creature’s perspective. “I said I think they should end up together… They didn’t go for that.” Instead he developed his ideas into The Shape of Water, in which the romance is consummated in one of the oddest love scenes ever committed to film.

Julie Adams began life as Betty May Adams in 1926 in Waterloo, Iowa. Her father was a cotton buyer. She spent much of her childhood in Arkansas and at 19 she won the title of Miss Little Rock and headed for Hollywood. Many of her early movies were low-budget westerns, a cinema staple at the time. Signed to a contract with Universal, she was cast as James Stewart’s romantic interest in the wagon train movie Bend of the River (1952), a major hit which is still highly regarded today.

She starred opposite Rock Hudson in The Lawless Breed and Glenn Ford in The Man from the Alamo (both 1953) before reluctantly agreeing to appear in Creature from the Black Lagoon. This was the era of “the studio system” and she feared she would be suspended by the studio for breach of contract if she turned it down. It was another big hit.

Adams went to appear in many more movies, including Tickle Me (1965), with Elvis Presley. And, having graduated to “character roles”, she appeared with John Wayne in McQ (1974), she had a recurring role as Eve Simpson, Angela Lansbury’s character’s eccentric friend, in the TV series Murder, She Wrote (1987-93) and she appeared in an episode of Lost (2006).

In a 1991 interview she said: “No matter what you do… people will always say, ‘Oh, Julie Adams - Creature From the Black Lagoon.’” But Adams grew to accept that the film had become a cult classic. She attended festivals and conventions and entitled her 2011 autobiography The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections From The Black Lagoon.

Adams married twice in the 1950s to television writer Leonard Stern and film director Ray Danton. Both marriages ended in divorce. She is survived by two sons Steven and Mitchell Danton

Brian Pendreigh