Don Ameche was an American actor and voice actor best remembered for his portrayal of the Oscar-winning character “Art Selwyn” in the science fiction fantasy comedy-drama “Cocoon” from 1985. Over the course of his more than 60-year acting career, Ameche played a number of noteworthy parts. He spent some time in vaudeville before getting the chance to show off his acting talents in the film and television industry. In the middle of the 1930s, 20th Century Fox offered him his first movie contract after he gained some notoriety hosting radio programs. He entered the Broadway and television worlds in the 1950s, when he became well-known for his comedy, drama, and musical performances. He earned up to ninety credits during the course of his sixty-year acting career by appearing in movies and television shows. The movies “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “The Story of Alexander Graham Bell,” “Down Argentine Way,” “Cocoon,” and “Things Change” are among his best. The American animated sitcom “Family Guy,” created by Seth MacFarlane, uses the Academy Award-winning actor as the model for its Carter Pewterschmidt character.
Early Childhood & Life
Dominic Felix Amici, the son of bartender Felice Amici and Barbara Etta, was born Don Ameche on May 31, 1908, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His mother had German, Scottish, and Irish ancestry, while his father was of Italian descent.
His seven siblings included four sisters, Catherine, Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna, and three brothers, Umberto (also known as Bert), James (also an actor), and Jim Ameche.
In addition to attending Loras College, he attended Marquette University. He continued his studies at the University of Wisconsin after that. In the future, he wanted to practice law, but as the years passed, he discovered that performing and theatrical productions more and more drew him.
Don Ameche had a lot of acting experience as a student by participating frequently in his school plays. During a theater production, while he was a student at Marquette University, the lead actor was absent. Don accepted the offer after being encouraged to do so by his buddies.
Ameche invested a lot of time in his undergraduate theater shows, performing and honing his craft before breaking into the entertainment industry. Later, he made a vaudeville appearance.
Career of Don Ameche
Don Ameche made his screen debut in the 1935 movie “Clive of India” playing a prisoner. Later that year, he made another appearance in “Dante’s Inferno.” However, he received no credit for his work in either of these movies, and he was forced to wait another 12 months to make his formal cinematic debut. He starred in the movie “Sins of Man” as “Karl Freyman / Mario Signarelli” (1936).
Ameche appeared in more than 10 movies over the three years it took him to become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors. He had many significant cinema appearances between 1937 and 1939, exhibiting both his humorous and dramatic acting talents. “Ramona,” “Ladies in Love,” “One in a Million,” “Love Is News,” “Fifty Roads to Town,” “You Can’t Have Everything,” “Love Under Fire,” “Happy Landing,” “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Gateway,” “The Three Musketeers,” and “Midnight” are just a few of his significant works from the 1930s.
Ameche portrayed the part of the brilliant inventor Alexander Graham Bell in the 1939 film “The Story of Alexander Graham Bell,” which was a fictional biography. Due to the success of this film, Ameche rose to fame and the telephone, invented by Alexander Graham Bell, began to bear his name.
He made nearly 20 movie appearances in the following ten years, several of which received positive reviews and enjoyed huge popularity. Alongside Gene Tierney and Charles Coburn, he played “Henry Van Cleve” in the 1943 Technicolor American comedy “Heaven Can Wait.” The movie was adapted from Leslie Bush-play Fekete’s “Birthday,” and it was nominated for three Academy Awards: “Best Director,” “Best Picture,” and “Best Cinematography – Color.”
His other movies, such as “Wing and a Prayer,” “Greenwich Village,” “So Goes My Love,” and “Sleep, My Love,” were also well-liked by the viewers.
He rose to become one of Hollywood’s highest-paid performers in the 1940s, but he switched some of his attention from movies to the radio. He appeared on “The Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy Show” as an announcer and a participant in a sketch, and he quickly rose to prominence as a radio performer.
Additionally, he worked on shows including “Empire Builders,” “The First Nighter Program,” “Family Theater,” and the “Betty and Bob” soap opera. Later, he costarred with Frances Langford in the radio comedy series “The Bickersons,” which was based on married couples. His popularity quickly inspired him to launch The Old Gold Don Ameche Show, his own program.
Ameche took a vacation from acting in movies and plays in the late 1940s, returning only seldom in the years that followed. In the 1980s, he resumed his career in the film and television industries and played some memorable roles in movies including “Corrina, Corrina,” “Cocoon,” “Cocoon: The Return,” and “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey.”
Bigger Works of Don Ameche
Don Ameche gained enormous popularity after starring in the fictitious biopic of Alexander Graham Bell in the 1939 movie “The Story of Alexander Graham Bell,” and people started pronouncing “Ameche” to denote the term “telephone” in his honor!
He starred in the 1985 movie Cocoon, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also made a reappearance in the film’s sequel, “Cocoon: The Return,” to much acclaim from both critics and viewers.
Recognition & Achievements
For his work in the 1985 film “Cocoon,” Don Ameche won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Individual Life of Don Ameche
In 1932, Don Ameche wed Honore Prendergast, and the two had six kids. On October 3, 1933, the couple gave birth to a son Don Ameche Jr. On February 22, 1948, they gave birth to their last child, a daughter named Constance Victoria Ameche. After more than fifty years of marriage, Honore passed away in 1986 and was survived by a distraught Don Ameche.
Ameche passed away on December 6, 1993, at his son’s house in Scottsdale, Arizona. He had prostate cancer, which ultimately led to his demise. He was 85. He was cremated, and his remains were then interred at the Catholic Cemetery of the Resurrection in Iowa.
Don Ameche’s Net Worth
An American voice actor and actor with a $10 million fortune were Don Ameche. Don Ameche was born in May 1908 in Kenosha, Washington, and died there in December 1993. His nearly 60-year career began in vaudeville and lasted nearly all of that time. One in a Million, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, The Three Musketeers, The Story of Alexander Graham Bell, Moon Over Miami, Heaven Can Wait, Wing and a Prayer, Greenwich Village, Columbo: Suitable for Framing, Trading Places, Cocoon, Harry and the Hendersons, Coming to America, Cocoon: The Return, and Corrina, Corrina are just a few of the movies in which Ameche appeared. For his work in Cocoon, Ameche received an Academy Award in 1985 for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. He was honored with two television and radio stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. At the age of 85, Don Ameche died of prostate cancer on December 6, 1993.