“Adam” dramatized the case of 6-year-old Adam Walsh, who was kidnapped from a Florida shopping mall in 1981, and later found murdered.
The movie starred Daniel J. Travanti and JoBeth Williams as Adam’s parents, John and Reve Walsh, who – in the hours after his abduction – discover the FBI will help find a stolen car, but not a stolen child.
Following Adam’s murder, the Walshes become activists, persuading lawmakers to create a national registry for missing children.
The New York Times’ John J. O’Connor praised the “scrupulous honesty” Travanti and Williams brought to “Adam,” which was seen by 38 million viewers, ranking seventh in the weekly ratings.
At the end of the movie, which aired on a Monday, the Walshes appeared and showed pictures of 55 missing children. By week’s end, three of the kids were reunited with their families.
NBC aired a sequel, “Adam: His Song Continues,” in 1984. The Walshes have continued their activism; since 1988, John Walsh has hosted Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted.”
Convicted serial killer Ottis Toole confessed to Adam’s murder before dying in 1996. Police closed the case in 2008.
Also on TV
On October 10, 1983, NBC also aired the family drama “Boone;” CBS broadcast “Scarecrow and Mrs. King,” “AfterMASH,” and the “17th Annual Country Music Association Awards,” in which Alabama was named Entertainer of the Year; and ABC showed “That’s Incredible” and “Monday Night Football,” in which the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 24 to 14.
During the week of October 9, 1983, the number ones were James A. Michener’s “Poland” (novel), Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (song) and “Never Say Never Again” (movie). In Washington, embattled Interior Secretary James Watt quit.
Caption: NBC’s advertisement for “Adam,” from TV Guide’s October 8, 1983, issue.