He was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in the late 30s and early forties. In fact, for a time his name entered the language as a slang term for the telephone.
And, his career was indeed a long one, covering some 91 credits over a nearly 60-year period and spanning at least two periods of Hollywood production. He was “sooo reliable,” said Ameche’s patron and pal, 20th Century Fox mogul Darryl Zanuck.
Interestingly, Ameche was known as a all-round good guy — smart, courteous, flexible and personally averse to the evil sidebars of movie stardom. He stayed away from Hollywood as much as possible between assignments. He was married to the same woman for a jaw-dropping (by Hollywood standards) half century. He was devoutly religious.
Ameche teetered between leading man status and key supporting player, flourishing a the former in the late Thirties and Forties as well as the latter in the 1980’s. He died of prostate cancer in Scottsdale, Az. in 1993, at the age of 85.
So let’s see how much you know about Don Ameche. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Ameche won a best supporting actor Oscar for which of his movies? a) The Story of Alexander Graham Bell; b) Cocoon; c) Heaven Can Wait or d) Trading Places.
2) Question: Ameche was considered the go-to leading man of the Forties at 20th Century Fox. Who was his main rival? a) George Sanders; b) Henry Fonda; c) Tyrone Power; or d) Phil Silvers.
3) Question: Why was Ameche’s name evoked in a telephone context, as in “get him on the Ameche?” And which actress famously mouthed that very reference?
4) Question: Why was Ameche considered a favorite of ice skater-turned movie actress Sonja Henie? a) They share a torrid off-screen romance; b) Ameche was a calming presence when Henie nervously made her movie debut; c) Ameche could ice skate pretty well on his own; or d) none of the above.
5) Question: At the height of his 1940’s fame. Ameche was rich enough to own a professional football team in Los Angeles. a) True; or b) False?