Ed Ames, the deep-toned baritone pop singer and actor who portrayed trusty sidekick Cherokee Mingo on the 1960s NBC series Daniel Boone, is dead. He was 95 years old.
Ames died at his Los Angeles home on Sunday after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease, his wife Jeanne said. The Hollywood Reporter.
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A Massachusetts native and son of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine, Ames starred as Oxford-educated Mingo opposite Fess Parker as Daniel Boone in the first four seasons (1964-1968) of TV Western.
His most memorable night on television, however, came in April 1965 during an appearance on NBC. The show tonight. Demonstrating to host Johnny Carson how deftly Mingo would wield a tomahawk, he threw the weapon at an outline of a cowboy drawn on a wooden board – and it got stuck in the crotch.
As the audience roared, Carson left his office and told Ames in now classic ad-libbed lines, “I didn’t even know you were Jewish!” and “Welcome to the Bristle Border!”
The whole thing generated one of the longest laughs in the history of The show tonight – at around four minutes, some say one of the longest in television history – and has been a staple of flagship shows for decades.
In a 2014 interview with host Mark Malkoff on The Carson Podcastamiable Ames admitted he never threw a tomahawk until he learned The show tonight wanted him to do it on the air. (In previous appearances with Carson, he had thrown a bola and spear and fired an arrow).
“This afternoon I practiced throwing it,” he said. “I first did it at home the night before and knocked out a few trees.”
Ames noted that the day after the show aired, taxi drivers yelled at him, “Good for you, Ed!” as he strolled the streets of New York.
6ft 3in Ames got the Mingo job after 20th Century Fox talent scouts saw him as Chief Bromden opposite Kirk Douglas and Gene Wilder in Ken Kesey’s original 1963 Broadway production . Flight over a cuckoo’s nest.
Ames and three of his older brothers – Vic, Gene and Joe – have performed and recorded as the Ames Brothers. In 1950, they had their first No. 1 song, the double-sided tracker “Rag Mop”/”Sentimental Me”; made his fortune three years later with “You, You, You” on RCA Records; and became one of the most popular quartets of the pre-rock ‘n’ roll era.
Ames went it alone in 1961 and had success with songs such as “Try to Remember” – his signature song – “Apologize”, “When the Snow Is on the Roses”, “My Cup Runneth Over” and “Who Will Answer?”
Edmond Dantes Urick was born on July 9, 1927, in Malden, Massachusetts, the youngest of nine children (five boys and four girls). As a child, he attended Boston’s rough Latin school — Benjamin Franklin was another famous alumnus — and sang in churches around the city.
He joined Vic, Gene, and Joe as a leader in a band they called the Urick Brothers, then the Armory Brothers (Vic’s middle name), and they made their mark in Boston nightclubs like the Latin Quarter, founded by Barbara Walters’ father, Lou.
They headed to New York, landed a job with bandleader Art Mooney, signed to Decca Records and, at the suggestion of famed Broadway producer Abe Burroughs, became the Ames Brothers. (“Sames” means “truth” in Yiddish.)
They found their first chart success in 1949 with “Forever and Ever”, recorded with Russ Morgan’s orchestra. Listeners loved their rich, clean harmonies.
After “Rag Mop”, “Sentimental Me”, “Undecided” and another top 10 hit, the new 1954 song “The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane”, the brothers began performing regularly on the show. Arthur Godfrey and were one of the first acts to appear on Ed Sullivan’s city toast.
In 1955 they had their own 15-minute syndicated television program, The Ames Brothers Showand performed the title track of man on fire (1957), starring Bing Crosby. At their peak, the quartet could command $20,000 a week on tour, and they were named Billboard‘s best vocal group of 1958, when they had eight singles on the charts.
Ames continued acting into the 1960s and studied at the Herbert Berghof Drama School in New York. He performed off-Broadway as John Proctor in an Arthur Miller cover the cruciblethen clinched the National Company Head of Gower Champion’s Carnival.
Ames also appeared in the off-Broadway smash The Fantastic, on which he sang “Try to Remember”. Carson loved his rendition, and he sang it once every night for a week on The show tonight.
Ames also presented John Wayne’s film The chariot of war (1967) with “Ballad of the War Wagon”.
Later he appeared in concert and supper clubs and appeared on television shows such as The Murder She Wrote, In the heat of the Night And The Marshall.
Ames was also an early minority owner of the NBA’s expansion team, the Phoenix Suns, along with Henry Mancini, Andy Williams, Bobbie Gentry and Tony Curtis.
In addition to his wife, survivors include his children, Ronald and Sonya; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
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