Don Ameche: Bio, Career, Cause of Death

Male Actors
Don Ameche

Don Ameche lived a life as a complete showman. He appeared in television series, motion pictures, Broadway productions and he was also a radio star. His charming looks made him the ladies’ man during his active days in Hollywood. Don had a stellar career and here is everything you need to know about the actor.

Don Ameche: Age and bio

The son of a professional bartender Felice Amici and Barbara Etta a homemaker. Don Ameche was born on May 31, 1909, as Dominic Felix Amici in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His father was of Italian descent and his mother has German, Scottish, and Irish roots.

Don was raised in a large family amongst seven siblings namely; Umberto (sometimes called Bert), James an actor, Louis, as well as four sisters, Catherine, Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna.

He attended Marquette University and also attended Loras College. He then moved to the University of Wisconsin to study Law but somehow lost interest in the wig profession and in acting and theatrical performances. It was while in college that he took acting very serious, appearing in some college dramas.

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At Marquette University, a lead actor failed to show up during a stage show and a friend encouraged him to replace the lead actor which he did perfectly well. He played one more role on TV before joining the tour of vaudeville until he was dropped and 20th Century Fox came calling with an offer.

Don Ameche: Career

Ameche began his career as a prisoner in the black hole in the 1935 film “Clive of India”. After he signed a contract with 20th Century Fox in 1935, he was thrown into the film “Dante’s Inferno” which was produced by Fox Corporation.

It was exciting that his contract with Fox was not just all talks as he landed a leading role in relatively “Sins of Man” where he portrayed the son of Jean Hersholt in 1936. He played the role of Alessandro Loretta Young’s leading man in the Technicolor drama film “Ramona”.

The year 1936 confirmed his stardom status as he appeared in “Young in Ladies in Love”. He also played the role of Bob Harris alongside Sonja Henie in “One in a Million”. Ameche starred with Gene Tierney in Ernst Lubitsch’s “Heaven Can Wait” in 1943, a film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. His marriage with 20th Century Fox ended but his career sparkled.

He became a major radio entertainer, and gave his opinions on “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.

One major highlight of his acting career was his role in the 1939 film “The Story of Alexander Graham Bell” which made him very famous as his name became a moniker for the word telephone. This role made him one of the most sought after actors in Hollywood back in the days as people joked with the phrase “You’re wanted on the Ameche” to indicate someone had a phone call.

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His best television role came between 1961 and 1965 when he traveled throughout Europe with a television videotape unit and camera crew to cover a different European resident circus or ice show that was taped for presentation on a weekly series titled “International Showtime” on NBC television.

Don Ameche continued to appear in films even at his old age until he couldn’t cheat his waning health in 1994 as he retired to rest. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 1985 movie “Cocoon.” He had an amazing career.


Don Ameche married Honore Prendergast in 1932 and together they welcomed six children. He must have emulated his father in this aspect of having a large house. Don and Honore welcomed their first child, son Don Ameche Jr. on October 3, 1933. They had their last child, daughter Constance Victoria Ameche on February 22, 1948. Unfortunately, his wife died in 1986 which left him in a distraught mood until his death

Don Ameche: Legacies, cause of death

Don Ameche left behind several legacies that may not be whisked away so easily. His movies still entertain no matter how old you are. But it’s not just his movies, he made money in the acting industry. In 1944, he reportedly earned $247,677 for 1943, making him the second-highest earner at 20th Century Fox after Spyros Skouras. Celebritynetworth reports that the actor was worth 10 million dollars as of the point of his death.

Don Ameche died on December 6, 1993, at the home of his son Don Jr in Scottsdale, Arizona of prostate cancer at age 85. He was cremated and his ashes are buried at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Asbury, Iowa.

Image Source: Brittanica 



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