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Fat Lady Sings For Joey Adams

Veteran funnyman Joey Adams, a syndicated comedy columnist whose prolific career ranged from vaudeville to the Catskills to television, died Thursday. He was 88.

The Brooklyn native died at St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan of apparent heart failure, said Sy Presten, a family spokesman.

Adams was a New York fixture. His column appeared daily in the New York Post, and he was a steady of the Friar's Club, sitting at his table beneath a LeRoy Neiman caricature of himself.

He was just as comfortable at the White House, serving as international goodwill ambassador for presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.

His legacy includes, according to his Who's Who entry, 23 books - from his 1946 From Gags to Riches to his 1987 The Roast of the Town.

Born Jan. 6, 1911, as Joseph Abramowitz, Adams wound up as the "adopted son" and protégé of another soon-to-be famous New Yorker: future mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.

Taking the name Joey Adams, the 19-year-old debuted in vaudeville, playing the Paramount and the Roxy as a contemporary of Henny Youngman, Milton Berle and George Burns. He later became a regular attraction in the Catskills and went on to be a frequent guest on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Jackie Gleason Show.

His column in Thursday's Post was typical of Adams' one-liner style:

"People want to get shoplifting reduced from a misdemeanor to a necessity."

In addition to his books and his newspaper column (Just For Laughs), he appeared in motion pictures (Ringside in 1945), on stage (Guys and Dolls in 1960), and was host of various radio and television programs.

He also worked extensively with the March of Dimes, and received a variety of humanitarian awards.

Adams is survived by his wife of 47 years, gossip columnist Cindy Adams.

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