The daughter of actors, Brooke Adams was once praised by the press for her supremely flexible countenance -- with expressions and demeanors to accommodate virtually any emotion or situation. Adams attended New York's High School of Performing Arts and the Institute of American Ballet, and took private acting lessons from Lee Strasberg. At age six, she made her Broadway debut in the 1954 revival of Finian's Rainbow. Eleven years later, she was cast as Burl Ives' teenaged daughter in the extremely short-lived TV sitcom O.K. Crackerby (1965-1966) on ABC.
Adams then kept a low professional profile until making her adult off-Broadway bow in 1974, appearing in yet another revival, The Petrified Forest. A great future was predicted for Brooke when she starred as Abby, the romantic bone of contention between Richard Gere and Sam Shepard in Terrence Malick's critically acclaimed 1978 film, Days of Heaven. That same year, she played Elizabeth Driscoll (the Dana Wynter role) in the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, opposite Donald Sutherland, and in 1979 she was Sean Connery's ethereal leading lady in the Richard Lester-directed Cuba. Any one of those three roles could have spelled superstardom for Brooke -- had she really wanted to be a superstar. Instead, she deliberately avoided the trappings of celebritydom, preferring to measure her achievements by her own standards rather than Hollywood's. And, if that meant accepting "small" but artistically rewarding theatrical projects or teaching acting classics to emotionally disturbed children, rather than accepting a role in the latest Spielberg or Scorsese blockbuster, so be it.
Brooke Adams' more notable credits during the mid- to late '80s and '90s included guest appearances on TV's Moonlighting (as single mother and David Addison Lamaze partner Terri Knowles), a role in the Broadway production The Heidi Chronicles, the narration duties for the 1994 miniseries The Fire This Time, and the role of Ione Skye's hardscrabble mother in the Allison Anders-directed Gas Food Lodging (1992). These represented high points, however, and more often than not, Adams found herself relegated to parts unworthy of her, such as the unevenly received 1985 adaptation of Kevin Wade's play Key Exchange (in which she reprised her stage role) and the histrionic TV movies Lace (1984) and Lace II (1985).
In subsequent years, Adams made a greater splash on television, with guest appearances on such series programs as Wings, Monk (both opposite husband Tony Shalhoub), and Touched by an Angel. She also returned to the big screen for supporting roles in several projects, including the 1995 Baby-Sitters Club and the 2007 Griffin Dunne-directed romantic comedy The Accidental Husband.