Ed Ames, whose long career included hit recordings, TV stardom and Broadway roles, died May 21 in Los Angeles at 95. No cause was given.
Ames began his career in the 1950s as part of the singing Ames Brothers quartet, joining with 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 TV program, The Ames Brothers Show.
Ames also branched off into a solo career, hitting the charts with “My Cup Runneth Over,” “Who Will Answer?” and “Try to Remember.”
Ames switched gears and did stage tours in the off-Broadway shows The Crucible and The Fantasticks, and then scored a starring role on Broadway in Carnival! He later starred with Kirk Douglas, Gene Wilder, and William Daniels in the Broadway production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.Ed Ames and Darby Hinton in ‘Daniel Boone,’ 1966
Television came calling, and Ames — though of Russian-Jewish heritage – was tabbed to play Cherokee Indian Mingo on the Fess Parker TV vehicle, Daniel Boone.
During his TV career, he accidentally became Tonight Show legend when he demonstrated how to throw a tomahawk for host Johnny Carson. Aiming at a wood panel outline of a cowboy, Ames’s throw landed squarely in the groin of the drawing.
Carson quipped, “I didn’t even know you were Jewish!” and then, “Welcome to Frontier Bris.” The audience roared for a reported four minutes.
Ames later made guest appearances in such shows as The Rifleman, McCloud, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, Jake and the Fatman and Murder She Wrote.
Ames was born in Massachusetts as the youngest of nine children, and received a B.A. in theater and cinema 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.