Saturday, June 3, 2023

Godspeed Ed Ames

Singer and actor Ed Ames died on May 21 2023 at the age of 95. Both with the Ames Brothers and as a solo artist, he had several hits. As an actor he may be best known for playing Mingo on Daniel Boone.

Ed Ames was born Edmund Dantes Urick on July 9 1927 in Maldon, Massachusetts. He attended the Boston Latin School. He studied both classical music and opera. His brothers formed a singing quartet while still in high school. Three of the brothers would later form the Amory Brothers. It was playwright Abe Burrows who suggested a new name, "the Ames Brothers."

The Ames Brothers signed with Coral Records and their first single, "Caravan," was released in 1947. In 1948 they would have their first hit, "A Tree in the Meadow" recorded with Monica Lewis. It went to no. 21 on the Billboard chart. The year 1950 gave them their first no. 1 hit, "Rag Mop." It was followed by another no. 1 hit, "Sentimental Me." Throughout the Fifties the Ames Brothers would have a string of hits, including "Can Anyone Explain? (No, No, No), "Undecided," "You, You, You," "The Man with a Banjo," "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane," and "Tammy."In 1949 they were regulars on Robert Q. Lewis's radio show. That same year they were regulars on the CBS musical quiz radio show Sing It Again. In 1955 they had a syndicated television show, The Ames Brothers Show

The Ames Brothers disbanded in 1963, whereupon Ed Ames launched a solo career. He had several hits in the Sixties, including "My Cup Runneth Over," "Time, Time," "Timeless Love," "When the Show is on the Roses," and "Who Will Answer?."

Ed Ames began his acting career in 1957 on the show State Trooper. He appeared with the other Ames Brothers on an episode of Mike Hammer in 1958. Prior to Daniel Boone, he guest starred on The Rifleman, Redigo, and The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters. It was in 1964 that he began playing Mingo, the Oxford educated Cherokee, on Daniel Boone. He left the show after is fourth season. Afterwards he guest starred on The Danny Thomas Hour and provided a voice for the Rankin/Bass special Cricket on the Hearth.

In the Seventies he guest starred on The Starlost McCloud, Kodiak, The Wide World of Mystery, and Greatest Heroes of the Bible. In the Eighties he guest starred on Murder, She Wrote; It's Gary Shandling's Show, In the Heat of the Night; and Jake and the Fatman. In the Nineties he made his last television appearance, a guest shot on The Marshal.

Ed Ames was very talented as a singer. He had a rich, very expressive baritone. It is a little wonder that both as one of the Ames Brothers and as a solo act he had a string of hit songs. He was also very talented actor. While it was admitted politically incorrect for Mr. Ames to play Mingo and while the portrayal of the Cherokee on Daniel Boone was inaccurate, he did well in the role. He would also do well in other roles as well. He played a racist, corrupt sheriff on an episode of In the Heat of the Night. In the McCloud episode "The Colorado Cattle Caper" he played the leader of a gang of cattle rustlers. In the Murder, She Wrote he played a role with which he was familiar, that of a singer, although in this instance it was a somewhat amoral singer. On The Rifleman he played a man wanted to murder. Both as a singer and an actor Ed Ames was enormously talented and very versatile.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Marlene Clark Passes On

Marlene Clark, who played Lamont's girlfriend Janet on Sanford and Son and starred in the movie Ganja & Hess (1973), died on May 18 2023 at the age 85.

Marlene Clark was born in Harlem on December 19 1937. Growing up, she spent many summers in Virginia, where her mother was born. She attended Morristown Junior College in Tennessee an then City College in New York before working as a model.

Marlene Clark made her film debut in For Love of Ivy in 1968. In the late Sixties she also appeared in the movies Midnight Cowboy (1969), Putney Swope (1969), Stop! (1970), and The Landlord (1970). She made her television debut on The Bill Cosby Show in 1970. That same year she guest starred on The Governor & J.J., Marcus Welby M.D., and The Immortal.

It was in 1976 that she first appeared as Janet Lawson, Lamont's girlfriend and later fiancee, on Sanford and Son. She appeared in six episodes total. She also guest starred on the TV shows Bonanza, The Mod Squad, McCloud, The Rookies, The Richard Pryor Show, What's Happening!!, and Barnaby Jones. She appeared in the movies Clay Pigeon (1971), Night of the Cobra Woman (1972), Beware! The Blob (1972), Slaughter (1972), Ganja & Hess (1973), Enter the Dragon (1973), The Beast Must Die (1974), Newman's Law (1974), Black Mamba (1974), Lord Shango (1975), Swtichblade Sisters (1975), and The Baron (1977).

In the Eighties she guest starred on the shows Flamingo Road, Highway to Heaven, and Head of the Class. In the Eighties she opened her own clothing store on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. She later managed Hal’s Bar and Grill in Venice Beach.

Marlene Clark was very talented and she played a wide variety of roles. Janet Lawson on Sanford and Son  was a divorcee with a young son. In Ganja & Hess she played one of the title characters, both of who become vampires. In Night of the Cobra Woman, she played the title character. She played a government agent Slaughter. While Marlene Clark's career was not long, she played  a wide array of roles and she always gave good performances..

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Godspeed George Maharis

George Maharis, best known for playing Buz Murdock on the classic TV show Route 66, died on May 24 2023 at the age of 94.

George Maharis was born on September 1 1928 in Astoria, Queens, New York. He attending Flushing High School. He served 18 months in the United States Marines. He initially wanted to be a singer, but found himself drawn to acting. He studied acting at the Actors Studio with Sanford Meisner and Lee Strasberg.

George Maharis made his television debut in an episode of Philco Television Playhouse. In the Fifties he guest starred on the shows Mister Peepers, Playwrights '56, Goodyear Television Playhouse, The Investigator, The Phil Silvers Show, Brenner, Deadline, Alcoa Theatre, and Naked City. One of the episodes of Naked City on which he appeared, "Four Sweet Corners," was a backdoor pilot for Route 66. He played the role of John Gary. a former serviceman who sets out to travel the country with fellow veteran Lincoln Ridgeway (Robert Morris). There would be several changes made before the pilot would lead to Route 66. The two leads were renamed Tod Stiles and Buz Murdock, with Martin Milner cast in the role of Tod. They were no longer ex-serviceman. Tod was a Yale dropout from a once wealthy family, while Buz was an orphan who grew up on the streets of New York City. Route 66 debuted on October 7 1960 and proved to be a hit. From 1960 to 1961 he briefly appeared on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow. In the late Fifties George Maharis also made his movie debut in The Mugger (1958). He also appeared in the big screen adaptation of the novel Exodus (1960). He appeared in the off-Broadway play The Zoo Story in 1960.

In the early Sixties George Maharis continued to star on Route 66. He was nominated for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Series (Lead) for his role as Buz Murdock in 1962. He left the show during its third season after he had contracted hepatitis. After taking a break to recover from the disease, he appeared in the movies Quick, Before It Metls (1964), Sylvia (1965), The Satan Bug (1965), A Covenant with Death (1967), The Happening (1967), Land Raiders (1969), The Desperadoes (1969), and El último día de la guerra (1970). He also continued to appear on television, guest starring on the shows, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, The Danny Thomas Hour, Journey to the Unknown, and Love Story. He starred in the short-lived show The Most Dangerous Game from 1970-1971.

In the Seventies George Maharis guest starred on the shows Night Gallery, Cade's County, Medical Center, Cannon, Mission: Impossible, Barnaby Jones, Shaft, Marcus Welby M.D., The Snoop Sisters, Thriller, The Wide World of Mystery, McMillan & Wife, Movin' On, Nakia, Ellery Queen, Good Heavens, Jigsaw John, Bert D'Angelo/Superstar, The Bionic Woman, Kojak, Police Story, The Feather and Father Gang, Switch, Gibbsville, Logan's Run, and Fantasy Island. He appeared in the mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man.

In the Eighties he appeared in the movie The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982). He guest starred on Fantasy Island; Matt Houston; The Master; Superboy; and Murder, She Wrote. His last appearance on screen was in the movie Doppelganger in 1993.

George Maharis also had a recording career. Starting with George Maharis Sings!, he recorded seven albums from 1962 to 1966. He released several singles from 1962 to 1965, but only his cover of "Teach Me Tonight" was a hit. It went to no. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962.

George Maharis was a very talented actor. Both Buz Murdock and Tod Stiles on Route 66 rank among the greatest television characters of all time, all because of the performances of George Maharis and Martin Milner. He was also versatile. In The Satan Bug he played Lee Barrett, an outspoken private investigator who had earlier worked as an intelligence agent. In The Sword and the Sorcerer, he actually played a villain, Count Machelli, the War Chancellor to the evil Titus Cromwell (Richard Lynch). In the Ellery Queen episode "The Adventure of the Judas Tree," he played the family physician, Dr. Anthony Bender, of millionaire George Sherman. In The Desperadoes he played one of a band of raiders led by corrupt  Parson Josiah Galt (Jack Palance). George Maharis could play nearly any role he wanted, and he always gave performances. Such was his talent that he could convey emotion with just a look or his body language. While he will always be best remembered as Buz Murdock, he left behind many other great performances.