Don Adams Adams was born in New York City to a Hungarian Jewish father and an Irish American Catholic mother; he was not raised in any religion but became a practicing Catholic later on in his life. Adams served with the United States Marine Corps during World War II as a drill instructor and later in the Pacific Theater. He was the only member of his platoon to survive the Battle of Guadalcanal, but he contracted malaria during the invasion and nearly died of blackwater fever.
He later worked as a comic and mimic, taking the stage name of Adams after marrying singer Adelaide (Dell) Efantis, who performed under the name Adelaide Adams. He changed his name to Adams as a consequence, though following their divorce he generally explained the name change as being because he got tired of being last during alphabetical auditions. However, auditions are virtually never conducted alphabetically.