Don Ameche

Actor, Singer, Circus ringmaster
With his good looks and trademark pencil thin moustache, Don Ameche specialized in musicals and comedies during the 1930s and 1940s, often cast as likeable, upper-class sophisticates. He earned his first notoriety on ... Read more »
Born: 05/31/1908 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA

Filmography

Actor (66)

Corrina, Corrina 1994 (Movie)

Grandpa Harry (Actor)

Homeward Bound: the Incredible Journey 1993 (Movie)

of Shadow--The Golden Retriever (Voice)

Folks! 1992 (Movie)

Harry Aldrich (Actor)

1990 King Orange Jamboree Parade 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Oscar 1991 (Movie)

Father Clemente (Actor)

Our Shining Moment 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Oddball Hall 1990 (Movie)

(Actor)

Cocoon: the Return 1988 (Movie)

Art Selwyn (Actor)

Coming to America 1988 (Movie)

Mortimer Duke (Actor)

Things Change 1988 (Movie)

Gino (Actor)

Harry and the Hendersons 1987 (Movie)

Dr Wallace Wrightwood (Actor)

The 59th Annual Academy Awards Presentation 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

The 12th Annual People's Choice Awards 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Cocoon 1985 (Movie)

Art Selwyn (Actor)

Not in Front of the Kids 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Actor

Trading Places 1983 (Movie)

Mortimer Duke (Actor)

Boston and Kilbride 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

Shepherd's Flock 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Actor

Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came? 1970 (Movie)

Colonel Flanders (Actor)

The Boatniks 1970 (Movie)

Commander Taylor (Actor)

Picture Mommy Dead 1966 (Movie)

Edward Shelley (Actor)

A Fever in the Blood 1960 (Movie)

Senator A S Simon (Actor)

Too Young To Go Steady 1959 - 1960 (TV Show)

Actor

Heaven Can Wait 1942 (Movie)

(Actor)

Something to Shout About 1942 (Movie)

(Actor)

Hollywood Cavalcade 1939 (Movie)

Michael Linnett Connors (Actor)

Midnight 1938 (Movie)

Tibor Czerny (Actor)

Swanee River 1938 (Movie)

(Actor)

Alexander's Ragtime Band 1937 (Movie)

(Actor)

In Old Chicago 1937 (Movie)

(Actor)

One in a Million 1935 (Movie)

(Actor)

Ramona 1935 (Movie)

(Actor)

A Masterpiece of Murder (TV Show)

Actor

A Wing and a Prayer (Movie)

Flight Cmdr. Bingo Harper (Actor)

Clive of India (Movie)

Prisoner at Black Hole of Calcutta (Actor)

Confirm or Deny (Movie)

Mitch (Actor)

Dante's Inferno (Movie)

Man in Stokehold (Actor)

Down Argentine Way (Movie)

Richardo Quintano (Actor)

Fifty Roads to Town (Movie)

Peter Nostrand (Actor)

Four Sons (Movie)

Chris Bernic (Actor)

Gateway (Movie)

Dick (Actor)

Gidget Gets Married (TV Show)

Actor

Greenwich Village (Movie)

Kenneth Harvey (Actor)

Guest Wife (Movie)

Joe (Actor)

Happy Landing (Movie)

Jimmy Hall (Actor)

It's in the Bag (Movie)

Guest (Actor)

Josette (Movie)

David Brossard Jr. (Actor)

Kiss the Boys Goodbye (Movie)

Lloyd Lloyd (Actor)

Ladies in Love (Movie)

Dr. Rudi Imre (Actor)

Lillian Russell (Movie)

Edward Solomon (Actor)

Love Is News (Movie)

Marty Canavan (Actor)

Love under Fire (Movie)

Tracy Egan (Actor)

Pals (TV Show)

Actor

Shadow Over Elveron (TV Show)

Actor

Sleep, My Love (Movie)

Richard Courtland (Actor)

Slightly French (Movie)

John Gayle (Actor)

Sunstroke (TV Show)

Actor

That Night in Rio (Movie)

Larry Martin (Actor)

That's My Man (Movie)

Joe Grange (Actor)

The Magnificent Dope (Movie)

Dwight Dawson (Actor)

The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (Movie)

Alexander Graham Bell (Actor)

Biography

With his good looks and trademark pencil thin moustache, Don Ameche specialized in musicals and comedies during the 1930s and 1940s, often cast as likeable, upper-class sophisticates. He earned his first notoriety on radio, which led to a contract with 20th Century Fox and such popular features as "In Old Chicago" (1937) and "Alexander's Ragtime Band" (1938). He achieved his pinnacle of fame with the titular part in the biography "The Story of Alexander Graham Bell" (1939), though "Midnight" (1939) and "Heaven Can Wait" (1943) were arguably his finest showcases as a comedic leading man. Ameche's film opportunities dried up in the late 1940s, but he still managed to keep busy with a variety of television and stage assignments, and briefly reignited his career in the following decade via some Broadway successes. However, it was not until his turn as an evil billionaire in the hit comedy "Trading Places" (1983) that the now elderly actor found himself truly in demand once again. Recognition from his peers finally came via his role in Ron Howard's fantasy hit "Cocoon" (1985) for which he received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Over a career spanning more than six decades, Ameche managed to make his mark in three different mediums and weathered significant career lulls with veracity and hard work, offering three of his most indelible performances well into his golden years.

Relationships

Bonnie Ameche

Daughter

Connie Ameche

Daughter

Don Ameche Jr

Son

Larry Ameche

Son

Ronald Ameche

Son

Thomas Ameche

Son

Burt Ameche

Brother

Anne Ameche

Sister

Mary Jane Ameche

Sister

Felix Ameche

Father
grew up outside Rome Anglicized original surname "Amici" to "Ameche" when he came to the United States

Barbara Ameche

Mother
of Irish-German extraction

James Ameche

Brother

Honore Prendergast

Wife
were high school sweethearts married in 1932 until her death in 1978

EDUCATION

Columbia College

Dubuque , Iowa
college later renamed Loras College

Columbia Academy

Dubuque , Iowa
an all-boy's Roman Catholic school

University of Wisconsin at Madison

Madison , Wisconsin
did not finish studies

Georgetown University

Washington D.C.
studied briefly

Marquette University

Milwaukee , Wisconsin
attended briefly

Milestones

1993

Supplied the voice of Shadow, the Golden Retriever, for "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey"

1993

Finished shooting a major supporting role opposite Whoopi Goldberg and Ray Liotta in "Corrina, Corrina" just weeks before he died; played Liotta's father; filmed released posthumously

1992

Last TV-movie, "Sunstroke"

1992

Was diagnosed with prostate cancer which had already spread considerably 13 months before he died

1992

Last feature film appearance in a work released during his lifetime, "Folks!"

1989

Made last Broadway appearance replacing Spalding Gray as the Stage Manager in a revival of "Our Town"; production also featured Helen Hunt and Jason Gedrick

1983

Feature film career revived with role in "Trading Places"

1975

Reunited with Alice Faye for a national tour of the musical, "Good News"

1968

Made first TV movie, "Shadow Over Elveron" (NBC)

1961

Returned to feature films to act in "A Fever in the Blood"

1958

Hosted the syndicated drama anthology program, "The Don Ameche Theater"

1955

Returned to Broadway; played first leading role onstage in the musical "Silk Stockings"

1951

Hosted (via the role of the "stage manager") the ABC variety series revamp of "Holiday Hotel" entitled "Don's Musical Playhouse"

1950

Hosted the short-lived ABC game show, "Take a Chance"

1943

Made last films under 20th Century-Fox contract, "A Wing and a Prayer" and "Greenwich Village"; began freelancing

1939

Played signature role in "The Story of Alexander Graham Bell"

1937

Made first of six films opposite Alice Faye, "You Can't Have Everything"

1936

Signed by 20th Century-Fox at $1500 a week after studio head Daryl F Zanuck saw Ameche's screen test for MGM (date approximate)

1936

Made film acting debut in a dual role (the two sons of Jean Hersholt) in "The Sins of Man"

1935

Made screen test at MGM; test was considered unsuccessful and Ameche was not signed by the studio

1933

Made first film appearance in a promotional short entitled "Beauty at the World's Fair"

1930

Began performing on the radio at age 22; acted in "The First Nighter" and "Grand Hotel", among other shows

1929

Made Broadway debut in a small role as a butler in "Jerry for Short"

1929

Toured briefly with singer and entertainer Texas Guinan as part of her vaudeville act

Played a leading role on the radio series, "The Bickersons", opposite Frances Langford

Co-hosted (with Frances Langford) the ABC variety show, "The Frances Langford-Don Ameche Show"

Starred in TV adaptations of such stage shows as the musical "High Button Shoes" (1956) and the comedy "Junior Miss" (1957)

Moved with his family to New York; worked on his singing and speaking voice with trainers so that he would not need a microphone

Hosted (via the role of the "hotel manager") the ABC variety show, "Holiday Hotel", set in that fictional hotel's "Pelican Room"

Was regularly on "The Chase & Sanborn Hour" in the mid-1930s; worked opposite W C Fields and Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, among others

Moved to New York to begin professional career

Was cast in a college production while at the University of Wisconsin; began acting in stock theater in Madison

Stage appearances in the 1950s and 60s include roles in the shows "Holiday for Lovers", "Goldilocks" and "Henry, Sweet Henry"

Ringmastered the popular NBC circus variety show, "International Showtime"

Co-hosted (with Frances Langford) the DuMont network's variety show, "Startime"

Was a regular on the NBC variety show, "The Jack Carson Show"

Was a regular on the NBC 15-minute variety show, "Coke Time with Eddie Fisher"

Bonus Trivia

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He was given the National Italian American Foundation Award at Atlantic City's Trump Castle, NJ (1991)

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