lorenz Ames (Jan 6. 1883 - Mar 6. 1961)
Height: 5' 6" (1m 67)
Born as Florence Sebastian Kolb in Rochester,
New York in 1884.
Below left: Young Florenz Ames, date unknown
We know Florenz (and Adelaide) performed with the Morton Opera and Musical co. in Central Park, Allentown. (1910 - 1911) Music was one of the most important features of musical comedy. In Nov 1912 Florenz Kolb star headed his own company at the State Street Theatre (Trenton?) let musical director Alexander Spencer take charge of the program. Ames’ first stage appearance occurred in Rochester in 1913 in the chorus of The Good Old Summer Time. Although reportedly he got his Broadway entree when a kind, "or unkind, I'm not sure now," lady singer heard him sing a duet with his mother, a choir singer, and gave him a letter of introduction to Julius Witmark, the New York music publisher, which netted him a job as chorus boy. Without a singing lesson to his name -even, Ames admitted, without much of a singing voice - he kept this job a year.
Florenz Ames actually started his acting career very
late. With the support of his older brother Winthrop Ames, the largest
theater producer and music hall in New York at the time, he began his
theatrical career as a singer and dancer in vaudeville, often performing
small scenes with his wife Adelaide "Alice" Winthrop. Starting out as
early as 1913 as "Kolb and Harland", in 1915 this duo
presented a clever little satire entitled Evolution, 1860 - 1920
in which they showed the evolution of the dance, the minuet to the
polka. Eventually changed their act to "Florenz Ames and Adelaide
Winthrop" in 1916. Under those names they had a thumbnail revue called
One Minute, Please (1918) and appeared in a magazine titled
Alice in Blunderland with Winthrop in the title role and Ames
playing other roles. His first prominent role was when he opened at the
Cohan and Harris Theater, Broadway on June 7, 1917 in
For the next thirty years of his career he was a singer and character actor in Broadway musicals.
Chief comedian of the Municipal Opera Company, St.Louis for a number of seasons he gave a talk "How to create a humorous role" for the Town Club members on Jun 19. 1929.
Helen Kolb was granted an interlocutory decree of divorce in the N.Y. Supreme Court. Mrs. Kolb alleged statutory offense with an unnamed woman at Broadway hotel, Oct. 7 1929. By July 1930 Florenz had married Alice O'Donnell (b.1900), his fourth wife. In February-March of 1930 they both performed in The Count of Luxembourg on Broadway.
He briefly rejoined Ray Dooley on
the East Coast in 1930.
Above left: Let 'Em Eat Cake (1933) Musical comedy. William Gaxton, Florenz Ames, Grace Worth.
Above right: Florenz Ames in Broadway production of Mr. Big in New York (1941).
Above left: Margaret Roy, Florenz Ames, and Robert Pitkin in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance (1943).
Above right: Kathleen Roche and Florenz Ames in Gilbert & Sullivan's Yeoman of the Gard (1944).
At the St. James's Theater between 1945 and 1948 Ames enjoyed his longest Broadway run when he succeeded to the role of Andrew Carnes in Oklahoma! His final Broadway role was in a revival of Of Thee I Sing, which ran at the Ziegfeld Theater between May and July 1952 and in which he again essayed the role of the French Ambassador.
From 1950 to 1956, he played the role of Inspector Richard Queen in the first televised version of Ellery Queen, sharing star billing with with Lee Bowman, who played Ellery (below left).
When interviewed in July, 1956 Ames was asked about his earlier movie work and his absence from films before his career was reinvigorated. He explained his earlier efforts quite plainly: "I saw myself for a nickel and tried afterwards to get a refund because it was that bad." Ames went on: "The late Sidney Olcott, who directed George M.Cohan and me in 'Seven Keys to Baldpate' used to wander up and down Broadway begging passersby to work in his pictures for five dollars a day and free lunch".
Florenz passed away March 6. 1961
Dale C. Andrews
(1) Encyclopedia of Early Television Crime Fighters - Everett Aaker
(5) National Library of Australia: Portrait of Florenz Ames, Polly Walker,
Charles Ulm, John Moore and Shirley Dale at a theatre, ca. 1929
Author: C.J. Frazer. Used by Permission
Additional video & audio sources
(1) Full photomystery The Adventures of Ellery Queen episode:
The Twilight Zone
(2) The Mystery of the Appelgate Treasure, Video Clip
(3) Facebook pages dedicated to Florenz Ames
|This actor profile is a part of the Ellery Queen a website on deduction. The actor above played Richard Queen in an Ellery Queen TV series. Click Uncle Sam if you think you can help out...!|
Page first published on May 16. 2016
Last updated September 5, 2021
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