Ed Ames, whose long career included hit recordings, television stardom and Broadway roles, died May 21 in Los Angeles at age 95. The cause was not disclosed.
Ames began his career in the 1950s as part of the Ames Brothers singing quartet, joining his brothers Vic, Joe and Gene. The group had a hit with “Rag Mop” in 1950 and totaled 49 chart hits before ending their association in 1963. The group also had a syndicated television show, “The Ames Brothers Show.”
Ames also branched out into a solo career, hitting the charts with “Who Will Answer?”, “My Cup Runneth Over” and “Try to Remember.”
Ames switched gears and toured the stage in the off-Broadway shows “The Crucible” and “The Fantasticks,” then landed a starring role on Broadway in “Carnival!” She later starred opposite Kirk Douglas, Gene Wilder, and William Daniels in the Broadway production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
Television called, and Ames, though of Russian-Jewish origin, was tapped to play Cherokee Indian “Mingo” in Fess Parker’s television vehicle “Daniel Boone.”
During his television career, he accidentally became a legend on “The Tonight Show” when he demonstrated how to throw a tomahawk for host Johnny Carson. Aiming for the wood panel outline of a cowboy, Ames’ pitch landed squarely in the cowboy’s drawing’s groin.
Carson quipped, “I didn’t even know you were Jewish!” and then, “Welcome to Frontier Bris.” The audience roared for about four minutes.
Ames later made guest appearances on shows like “The Rifleman,” “McCloud,” “Murder She Wrote,” “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” and “Jake and the Fatman.”
Ames was born in Massachusetts as the youngest of nine children and received a bachelor’s degree in theater and motion picture arts from UCLA in 1975.
He is survived by his wife, Jeanne; two children, Ronald and Sonya; seven grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and stepson Stephen Saviano. Another daughter, Marcella, predeceased him.
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