Casey Adams a.k.a. Max Showalter
CHESTER, CT--Max Showalter, better known to MSTies under his 1950s stage name of Casey Adams and who played dogged detective Lt. Dick Chasen in episode 409- THE INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN, died of cancer here July 30, 2000, at the age of 83. His career on stage, screen and television spanned five decades and in the process he found himself costarring with leading ladies from Marilyn Monroe (in 1953's "Niagara") to Bo Derek (in 1979's "10").
Some fans will recall that Dr. Forrester refers to "Casey Adams of Catalina Caper fame" in his introduction to the movie in episode 409; Dr. F. was in error and was confusing Showalter with similar-looking actor Del Moore, who played the con-man father in "Catalina Caper."
Born in Kansas in 1917, Showalter was exposed to the world of show business early--as a toddler his mother took him with her to her job at the local theater where she played piano for silent movies. By the late 1930s, he had already had dozens of stage roles and made his Broadway debut in Oscar Hammerstein's "Knights of Song. He also appeared for two years in the cast of Irving Berlin's traveling musical "This Is the Army."
But Showalter was best known in the theater world for the role of Horace Vandergelder in the megahit "Hello, Dolly," a role he performed more than 3,000 times, opposite Carol Channing, Betty Grable, Ginger Rogers and Betsy Palmer.
When television first appeared in the late 40s, Showalter was an early participant and his appearances caught the eye of 20th Century Fox boss Darryl Zanuck. He hired Showalter a featured player, changing his name to the more bankable Casey Adams. His movies from that era include 1956's "Bus Stop," 1954's "Naked Alibi," and 1957's "The Female Animal."
In the 1960s, he reclaimed the name Max Showalter and continued to work steadily, appearing such films as 1964's "Sex and the Single Girl," 1965's "How to Murder Your Wife" and the 1966 cult classic "Lord Love a Duck. In later years, you could have spotted him in the crowd of the 1978 disaster "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." His final film was 1984's "Racing With the Moon," though he is perhaps better remembered as Grandpa Fred in "Sixteen Candles," made the same year.
Showalter made more than 1,000 TV appearances, on everything from "Gunsmoke" to "Kojak." But TV trivia buffs also remember what might of been: Showalter starred in the pilot episode for the TV series "Leave It To Beaver" as Ward Cleaver, the role that would later be taken by Hugh Beaumont when the pilot became a series.
Showalter died in the Connecticut River Valley he'd fallen in love with in 1958 when, costarring with Doris Day in "It Happened To Jane," he did some filming in the area. He moved to Chester in 1984, but continued to be active in local musical theater. For many years he produced, directed and narrated the Christmas musical, "Touch of the Child," performed on several Connecticut stages (he also wrote the lyrics and music for that show). He also made a record featuring children's classics and fairy tales. In recent years, he was often seen visiting his close friend Katherine Hepburn.