How much did you know about our Quiz subject, Don Ameche?

Can you identify the woman above, and the movie in which she and Ameche were costarred? Questions. Questions.

Since today is a day for answers, we’ll confide that the photo above shows the two costars of 1941’s comedy That Night In Rio, Ameche and Carmen Miranda.  Alice Faye (not shown) was also along for the ride.

Now on to our Quiz answers.  To review the questions, just scroll down to the blog below.  Here we go:

1) Answer:  Ameche won his best supporting actor Oscar for (b) Cocoon, the 1985 fantasy from director Ron Howard about a oldsters being reinvigorated by alien creatures. Ameche is well supported by two good actors, Wilford Brimley and Hume Cronyn.

2) Answer: (c) Tyrone Power and Ameche enjoyed a presumably friendly rivalry during their peak periods at 20th Century Fox. They made four movies together. Their rivalry was reflected in the front office and in occasional reviewer attitudes.  For example, Fox mogul  Daryl Zanuck and Frank Nugent enjoyed a highly competitive relationship. Nugent was then chief movie reviewer of The New York Times, “probably the first and last critic Zanuck paid serious attention to,” wrote the mogul’s biographer, Mel Gussow. It seems that Nugent would take frequent and witty potshots at late 1930’s Fox pictures (cracks about “moss-covered” scripts, etc.). Nonetheless, Nugent praised 1939’s The Story of Alexander Graham Bell when it came out largely because —  it starred Ameche and NOT Tyrone Power, a special Zanuck favorite. Wrote Gussow: Incensed at a slam of an actor who wasn’t even in the picture, both Fox and (New York’s) Roxy Theater cancelled all advertising in the ‘Times’ for almost a year. 

3) Answer:  As indicated above, Ameche was the star of the Alexander Graham Bell biopic.  The picture was a big hit, and Ameche the actor was somehow conflated with Bell and his invention.  As an indication of Ameche’s great success  take note of a line in 1941’s “Ball Of Fire” in which nightclub singer Barbara Stanwyck tries to stop professor Gary Cooper from evicting her from the house where he and the other professors reside, by proving to him how much Cooper needs her to complete his study of contemporary American slang. Stanwyck asks Cooper something like, “For instance would you know what it means when someone says: “Get him for me on the ‘Ameche’?” Cooper looks puzzled and Stanwyck says, “You know, the telephone, ’cause he invented it.” When Cooper starts to correct her, Stanwyck interrupts and says: “You know, in the movie!”

4) Answer:  (b) Ameche was indeed a calming presence to ie skating queen Sonja Henie as she made her Fox movie debut in 1936’s romantic musical comedy One In A Million, playing an Olympic skating aspirant discovered by a theatrical manager (Adolphe Menjou), who brings his find to Madison Square Garden. Observing all this is a young Paris-based newspaper reporter (Don Ameche). His professionalism and lack of star ego provided welcome balance to Henie’s frazzled nerves.

5) Answer: a) True.  Ameche was co-owner and president of the Los Angeles Dons, a professional football team that surfaced in the mid-to-late 1940’s.  Bing Crosby and Bob Hope also had pieces of the team, which was eventually folded into the National Football League.

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