Popular singer and member of the Ames Brothers vocal quartet. The son of Russian Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine, Ed Ames was born into a large family (five brothers and four sisters in all). He and brothers Joe, Gene, and Vic were taught a love for music at an early age. Though they won several amateur singing contests during their youth they didn't turn professional until after they had finished school. All four were good students and athletes and initially chose to pursue careers other than pop stardom. Ed became a table tennis champ.
Avid sports fans, Eddie, Gene, and Victor, along with their cousin, Lennie, would often hang around the baseball park, where they were sometimes asked to sing. That exposure helped them land their first audition. The group, then known as the Amory Brothers, after Vic's middle name, began playing Army and Navy bases and were offered a job at the Fox's and Hound's nightclub, one of the fanciest spots in Boston. Joe eventually rejoined them and the four brothers moved to New York, where they landed a job with bandleader Art Mooney. Their big break came when, while trying out a new number at Leeds Publishing one day, they were heard by an executive from Decca Records, who asked them record a few sides, which they did.
The recording ban of 1948 sidetracked their career briefly, but when the ban was finally lifted the following year they signed with Coral Records, becoming the first artist to record for that label. Their name was also shortened, to the Ames Brothers. In 1949 they scored a hit, ''Forever and Ever,'' with Russ Morgan's orchestra, and in 1950 they had their first number one, a double-sider, ''Rag Mop/Sentimental Me.'' The brothers went on to chart several more hits during the early part of the decade and ended up with a regular spot on Arthur Godfrey's television show. They also became one of the first acts to appear on Ed Sullivan's original television program, Toast of the Town. In 1956 they landed their own fifteen-minute television program, The Ames Brothers Show. It was the first television show to be shown in syndication. The brothers also worked with such bandleaders as Les Brown, Hugo Winterhalter and Esquivel.
Rock and Roll took its toll on the brother's popularity during the late 1950s. They began to chart less and less. Ed left the group in 1961 to spend more time with his family. He pursued an acting career, earning roles in several theatrical productions. He went on to star in two Broadway productions, Carnival and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, where his role as Chief Bromden led to his being cast on television's Daniel Boone as Daniel's close friend, Mingo, an Oxford-educated Cherokee. His popularity in that role led to his starring in several television musical events and help him launch a solo singing career in the mid-1960s. He continued acting, writing and producing through the 1990s.