Saturday, July 9, 2011

BORN ON THIS DAY: ED AMES


One of the great groups of the 1950s were the Ames Brothers. Unfortunately forgotten now, Ed Ames was the lead singer of that successful group. He was born today - July 9th in 1927. Born in Malden, Massachusetts to Jewish parents who had immigrated from Ukraine, Ed Ames was the youngest of nine children, five boys and four girls.

Ames grew up in a poor household. He attended the Boston Latin School and was educated in Classical and Opera music, as well as literature. While still in high school, the brothers formed a quartet and often won competitions around the Boston area. Three of the brothers later formed the Amory Brothers quartet and went to New York, where they were hired by bandleader Art Mooney. Playwright Abe Burrows helped the brothers along the way, suggesting the siblings change their group's name to the Ames Brothers.

They were first signed on with Decca Records in 1948, but because of the Musician Union's ban, their records from Decca were never released. They signed on with another label, Coral Records, a subsidiary of Decca. They had their first major hit in the 1950s with the double-sided "Ragg Mopp" and "Sentimental Me." The Brothers joined RCA Victor records and continued to have success throughout the 50s with many hits like "It Only Hurts For a Little While," "You, You, You" and "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane." The brothers made appearances regularly on variety shows, and for a short period of time had their own 15 minute variety show in 1955.


In 1960, The Ames Brothers disbanded, and Ed Ames, pursuing a career in acting, studied at the Herbert Berghoff School. His first starring role was in an Off Broadway production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, going on to starring performances in The Fantasticks and Carnival!, which was on Broadway. He was in the national touring company of Carnival.

Although Ames is of Ukrainian extraction, his dark complexion led to his being cast regularly as an American Indian. His greatest success as a stage actor came when he played Chief Bromden in the Broadway production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, opposite Kirk Douglas.

Talent scouts at 20th Century Fox saw Ed in the production and invited him to play the Native American Mingo on the television show Daniel Boone, with Fess Parker, Patricia Blair, Darby Hinton and Veronica Cartwright.

While playing Mingo on television, Ames developed some skill in throwing a tomahawk. This led to one of the most memorable moments of his career, when he appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on April 29, 1965. During the course of the show, Ames and Johnny Carson were discussing Ames' tomahawk throwing abilities. When Ames claimed that he could hit a target from across the room, Carson asked Ames if he could demonstrate this skill. Ames agreed, and a wood panel with a chalk outline of a cowboy was brought on to the stage. Ames proceeded to throw the tomahawk, which hit the "cowboy" square in the groin with the handle pointing upward. This led to a very long burst of laughter from the audience. After a moment, Ames proceeded to walk toward the target to retrieve the tomahawk but Carson stopped him and allowed the situation to be appreciated for its humor. Carson ad-libbed, "I didn't even know you were Jewish" and "Welcome to Frontier Bris." Ames then asked Carson if he would like to take a turn throwing, to which Carson replied, "I can't hurt him any more than you did." The clip became a favorite of Carson's own yearly highlight show and subsequently blooper television specials.

Ames recorded under the name "Eddie Ames" while still with the Ames Brothers, releasing the single "Bean Song (Which Way To Boston?)" in 1957.


During the 1960s, Ames returned to singing, this time as a solo artist. He released his first RCA Victor chart single, "Try to Remember," in 1965. The song barely made the charts. A bigger success came in 1967 with "My Cup Runneth Over." The song was both a Pop hit and an Adult Contemporary hit. He had less success on the Pop charts soon after, and only had Adult Contemporary hits with "When the Snow Is On the Roses," "Time Time", "Pete Raids", and "Timeless Love". He did make the Pop Top Twenty one last time in his singing career with the song "Who Will Answer" in 1968.

Ames's distinctive baritone is a regular radio presence during Christmas season, too, thanks to his version of "Do You Hear What I Hear?" Written originally in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the song received its best-selling treatment from Bing Crosby in 1962, but Ames' version, recorded a few years later, is in frequent holiday rotation...

11 comments:

  1. When I was a kid I doted on my folks' Ames Brothers albums. They still give me a warm glow.

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  2. I remember Ed Ames very well from DANIEL BOONE and from his appearance on the TONIGHT SHOW (which you described impeccably). My Mom had the LP with "My Cup Runneth Over." Nice profile of a singer and actor sadly forgotten.

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  3. I can remember the Ames Brothers and have one of Ed Ames albums....still beautiful music. I LOVED DANIEL BOONE, still do and watch it every morning on METV. Mingo has always been one of my favorite characters....when he spoke in that English accent it always points out to me that no matter what people look like, or what they sound like, in the end we are all just people who need the same things....shelter, food, and most of all love. Ed Ames..congratulations on a wonderful career and a purposeful life.
    Nancy Curtis, Price, Texas

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    1. I loved Mingo too,only time I watched daniel boone as long Mingo was in it

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  4. I have always enjoyed the singing and acting of Ed Ames. I would like to thank him very much enjoyment over the years. Recently, my brother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. This is hard for him and my sister because they have always been very active. I sent them a cd of Ed Ames music, and my sister plays it every morning. He is calmer and enjoys the day a lot more. They are both grateful for Mr. Ames music.

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  5. I may have Ed Ames to thank for my very existence. My mother was a huge fan and especially loved his 1967 hit, "My Cup Runneth Over." The story is he performed it on television one night, causing my mom to feel quite amorous toward my dad. They were both 40 at the time and assumed no more children were in the offing. Nine months later, however, I was born, just a few days before Thanksgiving 1967. Ah, the power of a great song and a silky baritone voice. Thanks, Ed.

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  6. I was looking for the song Bon Soir Dame and saw this picture of a native American, looks Cherokee to me. The name Ed Ames sounded familiar and then it all came back, Fess Parker as Daniel Boone and Ming played by Mr Ames. I grew up with Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone in the late sixties. Thank you Mr Ames for making growing up for me. My search for Bon Soir Dame was for my band.
    Anthony Lim
    Republic of Singapore

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  7. Mucha gracias Mr. Ames!! Lo queremos mucho, mucho!!! Mi familia lo recuerda con un gran carino y mucho amor!! We send all of our love your way!!

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  8. Ed Ames is still loved by his fans for his God given voice and his acting. I still love watching Daniel boone.he is a gentleman in every since of the word

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  9. In 1965 I had a great tradegy in my life and when the song "Who Will Answer" came out it really touched me. I recently had my big stereo system refurbished and I dug out an Ed Ames album with that song on it. I have listened to that record several times now as I am at this moment. It still warms my heart and makes me reflect on a very satisfying life about to celebrate my 43rd anniversary and two children as well as 5 grand children. Thank you very much for the music Mr Ames.

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  10. Mingo made the show daniel boone,I liked fess parker,but ed ames made the show as that handsome indian

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