Ed Ames, a member of the Ames Brothers singing quartet who starred in TV series “Daniel Boone” in the 1960s, died Sunday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 95.
Ed Ames and his brothers Vic, Joe and Gene had a hit with their version of “Rag Mop” in 1950. As a solo artist, he had hits with “Who Will Answer?,” “My Cup Runneth Over” and “Try to Remember.” In the 1950s, they had a syndicated TV program, “The Ames Brothers Show,” and 49 songs that charted before they broke up in 1963.
He then launched an acting career, which included off-Broadway performances in “The Crucible” and “The Fantasticks,” as well as a starring role on Broadway in “Carnival!” He starred with Kirk Douglas, Gene Wilder and William Daniels in the Broadway production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
Although his background was Russian Jewish, Ames was cast several times as a Native American, and played Mingo, a Cherokee Indian character with a British father, for several seasons of the Fess Parker Western “Daniel Boone.”
He became known for his skill in throwing a tomahawk, and on “The Tonight Show” in 1965, he demonstrated his skill for Johnny Carson on a wood panel with an outline of a cowboy. When Ames hit the figure squarely in the groin, Carson ad-libbed: “I didn’t even know you were Jewish!” and then “Welcome to Frontier Bris.” The saucy response caused the studio audience to laugh for four minutes, which has been reported to be the longest laugh by a studio audience in television history.
He also made guest appearances on shows including “The Rifleman,” “McCloud,” “Murder She Wrote,” “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” and “Jake and the Fatman.”
Born on July 9, 1927 in Malden, Mass., Ames was the youngest of nine children, and later 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.