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Ed Ames, 1960s singer and TV actor, dead at 95

Ed Ames, 1960s singer and TV actor, dead at 95


Ed Ames, the singer and TV star who wrote an unforgettable moment in Tonight Show history, has died. He was 95 years old.

Ames died of Alzheimer’s disease on May 21, his wife Jeanne announced on Saturday.

He had a wonderful life, she said.

Ames rose to fame in the 1950s in a pop quartet with three of his brothers, Joe, Gene and Vic. After the band broke up, Ames topped the charts multiple times on his own.

In the 1960s, Ames became a stage and film star, appearing in Broadway shows including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest with Kirk Douglas and Gene Wilder.

Ed Ames in 1970.

Ames’ biggest television role is that of the Native American character Mingo in Daniel Boone. This is the part that landed him an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

On the late night show, Ames was given a tomahawk and asked to throw it at a wooden sign with the outline of a cowboy on it. Ames threw it straight into the cowboys’ crotch, in what has been called the longest sustained audience laugh in Tonight Show history.

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Born July 9, 1927, in Malden, Mass., Ames was the youngest of 11 children. His mother instilled an appreciation for music in the children, and the four youngest boys began singing in a quartet at neighborhood events before moving to nightclubs.

The brothers had several hits and became staples on variety shows and clubs. But the constant touring and recording wore them down. They cut 40 albums and were constantly on the road to the point that Ames’ 3-year-old daughter called him one of the Ames brothers when he arrived home unannounced.

It did, he told a reporter. My brothers and I agreed that we all had it and we had to go our separate ways.

Ed was the band’s most successful solo artist, with hits My Cup Runneth Over, Time, Time and When the Snow Is on the Roses.

I was very lucky to have had an exciting career, he said in 2007.

Ames was the last surviving member of the Ames brothers. Vic died in 1978, Gene in 1997 and Joe in December 2007.

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