The Ames Brothers were actual brothers, a rarity in the entertainment business. The brothers were the youngest of 13 children born to David and Sonya Urick Russian Jews who immigrated to Massachusetts. There were 5 boys: Mac, Gene, Vic, Joe, Ed and 4 girls: Edith, Clare, Min, Sue (4 children died at birth or shortly after - their names are not known at this time). Growing up in a poor family, the children's lives were enriched by an education of classical and operatic music along with Shakespeare and other classic literature.
Although quite athletic, it was music that was the future destiny of four of the brothers, Joe (b. 5/3/21, d. heart attack 12/22/07), Gene (b. 2/13/1923, d. cancer 1997), Vic (b. 5/20/1925, d. car accident 1/23/1978). While Ed was still in high school ( Boston Latin School) the brothers formed a quartet. As amateurs they won almost all of the contests in the Boston area that they entered.
Joe, on scholarship, went to UCLA. The three other brothers and their friend (cousin?) Lennie Kaufman formed the Amory Brothers quartet. Amory was Vic's middle name. A year or so latter Joe rejoined his brothers. The brothers went to New York. They were hired by bandleader Art Mooney. It was playwright and entertainer Abe Burroughs who suggested that they shorten their name to the Ames Brothers.
The boys sang together at local events and clubs where they were eventually heard by a promoter who got them a one week engagement at the prestigious Fox and Hounds nightclub. This one week turned into a 6 months run. Soon offers and record deals were being offered to the very popular group.
Because of the Musician Unions ban of 1948 the first records that they recorded for Decca were never released. After the ban they were signed with the new label Coarl Records. Their first major hit was the double sided 1950's "Rag Mop" and "Sentimental Me". They continued to have Top 40 hits throughout the 50's including: "You, You, You", "Man with a Banjo", "It Only Hurts for a Little While", "Melodie D'Amour" and "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane". Also during this time the Ames Brothers made many radio and TV appearances. Including their own 15 min. show in 1955. This show was a sit com and was the first syndicated program. It was sent to foreign countries for broadcasting.
Ames Brothers Show
Though the quartet continued to record throughout the '50s, the dawn of the rock era definitely damaged their career; the group managed two Top Ten hits in 1957 ("Tammy," "Melodie d'Amour"), but then folded in 1959. Ed, decided to go out on his own. He wanted to try acting, a decision that may have been encouraged by his young daughter's comment, one night when he returned home, "Mommy, Mommy, he's home!" when asked "Who's home?" the young girl replied, "One of the Ames Brothers."
Ed studied acting in New York for approximately one and a half years then landed the leading role in the off Broadway production of Caruosel. Ed continued a performing career and appeared as an Indian named Mingo on the Daniel Boone TV series before hitting the Top Ten as a solo act with 1967's "My Cup Runneth Over." He also appeared on Broadway.