Don Ameche was a prominent actor, comedian, and voice artist whose career spanned for more than six decades. While he is still celebrated as one of the finest thespians the 1930s gave the world, he also invested part of his expertise on the radio. Though Ameche did some acting stints back in college, it was his competence on air that earned him a contract at the prestigious American film studio, 20th Century Fox.
An academy award winner, the actor’s original intention was to become a lawyer but he quickly switched his interest to acting after finding the latter more interesting. Are you searching for information about the late actor and his family? You are on the right page. Keep reading!
Who was Don Ameche?
He was among the crop of Hollywood actors who found fame and endeared themselves to the public in the 1930s as a result of their unique acting skills. He was one of Felice Amici (father) and Barbara Etta Hertel (mother)’s eight children. The rest are sisters – Anna, Catherine, Elizabeth, and Catherine and brothers – Louis, James, and Umberto.
James, popularly known as Jim Ameche (1915 – 1983), was a prominent actor in his own right while Umberto was an architect who served the U.S. Postal Service in Los Angeles, California, and the U.S. Navy in Port Hueneme, California.
Don was born on 31st May 1980 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and named Dominic Felix Amici. According to records, Ameche is of German, Irish, and Scottish descent from his mother’s side while his dad, who was a bartender, is a native of Montemonaco, Ascoli Piceno, Marche, Italy.
After completing his elementary and high school studies, Don Ameche was admitted into higher institutions for further studies. He reportedly did some courses in Loras College, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and lastly, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, which is also the same institution Alan Ameche (his cousin) won the Heisman Trophy as a football player in 1954.
While at Marquette University, Ameche took part in the production of some college drama; however, he bagged his first on-screen role in the year 1935 in 20th Century Fox’s Dante’s Inferno. His long term contract with the film studio gave him the platform to grow his career to the point he awarded leading roles in productions such as Sins of Man (1936) and 20th Century Fox’s first film in color, Ramona (1936).
Other projects he was featured in at the time also include Ladies in Love (1936), Happy Landing (1938), One in a Million (1936), In Love Is News (1937), Fifty Roads to Town (1937), Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938), You Can’t Have Everything (1937), The Three Musketeers (1939), Love Under Fire (1937), In Old Chicago (1938), Gateway (1938), and many others.
While his contract with the 20th Century Fox lasted, Don Ameche did three biopics – The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (as Alexander Graham Bell, 1939), Swanee River (as Stephen Foster, 1939), and Lillian Russell (as Henry Fonda, 1940). Owing to the number of projects Don participated in at the peak of his career, it was reported sometime in 1944 that he earned a whopping $247,677 at 20th Century Fox in the year 1943, becoming the second highest performer at the film studio after Greek-American movie executive, Spyros Skouras.
As a renowned radio entertainer, Ameche featured on numerous shows such as Family Theater, the Betty and Bob soap opera, The First Nighter Program, and Empire Builders. Fast forward to the 1950s, he bagged some television and stage roles and also co-hosted The Frances Langford-Don Ameche Show from 1951 to 1952.
Riding on the success of his thriving career, Don Ameche kept making films, appearing in shows and television series until the early 1990s when he did his last films Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993) and Corrina, Corrina
Prior to his death, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the year 1960 for his roles and contribution to radio. He received another star at 6101 Hollywood Boulevard in recognition of his television work.
Family Of The Late Actor: Wife and Kids
The late Don Ameche, until the time of his death, was a father of six. They all came from his marital relationship with his wife of many years Honore Prendergast. Lonnie Ameche, Connie Ameche, and Bonnie Ameche are the names of his daughters while Dominic Ameche, Ronald Ameche, and Thomas Ameche are his sons.
Don and Honore got married in 1932 and happily spent their years together until Honore died in 1986. The actor died on 6th December 1993, in Scottsdale, Arizona, in the United States. At the time of writing this article, there is no information available online about Don Ameche’s children and what they’ve been up to.