Scratch a sniveling prison "stoolie" or cowardly henchman and if he were not Paul Guilfoyle or George Chandler, he would be the diminutive Ernie S. Adams, a ubiquitous presence in scores of Hollywood films of the 1930s and '40s. Surprisingly, the weasel-looking Adams had begun his professional career in musical comedy -- appearing on Broadway in such shows as Jerome Kern's Toot Toot (1918) -- prior to entering films around 1919. A list of typical Adams characters basically tells the story: "The Rat" (Jewels of Desire, 1927), "Johnny Behind the 8-Ball" (The Storm, 1930), "Lefty" (Trail's End, 1935), "Jimmy the Weasel" (Stars Over Arizona, 1937), "Snicker Joe" (West of Carson City, 1940), "Willie the Weasel" (Return of the Ape Man, 1944) and, of course "Fink" (San Quentin, 1937). The result, needless to say, is that you didn't quite trust him even when playing a decent guy, as in the 1943 Columbia serial The Phantom. One of the busiest players in the '40s, the sad-faced, little actor worked right up until his death in 1947. His final four films were released posthumously.
Ernie S. Adams