DON AMECHE Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Dominic Felix Amici                                                                 
Born: 31 May 1908 Kenosha, Wisconsin                                                     
Died: 6 December 1993 Scottsdale, Arizona                                                 
Dominic Felix Ameche (May 31, 1908 – December 6, 1993) was an Academy Award-winning     
American actor and director.                                                             
Ameche was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin to Felix Ameche, an immigrant from Italy           
whose original surname was "Amici", and Barbara, who was of Irish and German             
descent. He had two brothers, Burt and Jim, and two sisters, Anne and Mary Jane.         
Ameche began his career in vaudeville with Texas Guinan until Guinan dropped him         
from the act, dismissing him as "too stiff". He made his film debut in 1935               
and by the late 1930s, he had established himself as a leading actor in                   
Hollywood. He appeared in such films as Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938), as the           
title character in The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939), It led to the use           
of the word "ameche" as slang for telephone in common catchphrases, as noted by           
Mike Kilen in the Iowa City Gazette (December 8, 1993): "The film prompted a             
generation to call people to the telephone with the phrase: 'You're wanted on             
the Ameche.'" Another highlight was co-starring with Gene Tierney in Ernest               
Lubitch's Heaven Can Wait which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best             
Ameche was a major radio star, heard on such shows as Empire Builders, The First         
Nighter Program, Family Theater and the Betty and Bob soap opera. Following his           
appearances as announcer and sketch participant on The Edgar Bergen/Charlie               
McCarthy Show, he achieved memorable success during the late 1940s playing               
opposite Frances Langford in The Bickersons, the Philip Rapp radio comedy series         
about a combative married couple. It began on NBC in 1946, moving to CBS the             
following year.                                                                           
Ameche also enjoyed a substantial Broadway career, with roles in Silk Stockings,         
Goldilocks, Holiday for Lovers, Henry, Sweet Henry and Our Town.                         
Between 1961 and 1965, Ameche sat in the grandstand of a different European               
resident circus each week to serve as host/commentator on International Showtime         
on NBC television. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Ameche directed the NBC             
television drama series Julia, starring Diahann Carroll.                                 
After the release of two 1970 comedies, The Boatniks and Suppose They Gave a War         
and Nobody Came?, Ameche was absent from theatrical films for the next 13 years.         
His only appearance in cinema during that time was in F For Fake, Orson Welles'           
documentary on hoaxes, when 20th Century-Fox mistakenly sent Welles newsreel             
footage of Ameche misidentified as footage of Howard Hughes. Ameche and fellow           
veteran actor Ralph Bellamy were eventually cast in John Landis' Trading Places           
in 1983, playing rich brothers intent on ruining an innocent man for the sake of         
a one-dollar bet. In an interview some years later on Larry King Live, co-star           
Jamie Lee Curtis said that Ameche, a proper old-school actor, went to everyone           
on the set ahead of time to apologize when he was called to say the "f-word" in           
the film. The film's success and their comedic performances brought them both             
back into the Hollywood limelight. Ameche's next role, in Cocoon (1985), won him         
an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He continued working for the rest of         
his life, including in the sequel, Cocoon: The Return. His last films were               
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993) and Corrina, Corrina (1994),               
completed only days before his death.                                                     
For his contribution to radio, Ameche received a star on the Hollywood Walk of           
Fame at 6313 Hollywood Boulevard and a second star at 6101 Hollywood Boulevard           
for his television work.