lorenz Ames (Jan 6. 1883 - Mar 6. 1961)
Born as Florence Sebastian Kolb in Rochester,
New York in 1884.
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 'Kolb and Harland' they 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 (picture just below right and bottom left).
After his wife died Ames reappeared on Broadway in Lady Butterfly (1923). By December 31st he was remarried to Helen Jost in Washington D.C.
He did start to restart another
act. Not so lucky with Dorothy Gompert, after 6 weeks of rehearsing he
called it quits and she sued him for $800 the Municipal Court. After
which he succesfully teamed up with actor Eddie Dowling's wife Ray
Dooley (picture above right) (1923).
For the next thirty years of his career he was a singer and character
actor in Broadway musicals.
He briefly rejoined Ray Dooley on
the East Coast in 1930.
During 1934 and 1935 he toured Australia. Sir Benjamin Fuller's
production of Merry Malones, with Polly Walker re-creating her
original Broadway role opened in Melbourne. Amongs others (120!) the
cast included Florenz Ames, Alice O'Donnell (his wife), John Moore, Mss. Rene Maxwell,
Leal Douglas, Shirley Dale and Bob Caperon.
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 .
From October 1, 1956 Florenz Ames appeared in one of the first serialized stories on Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club, prancing around waving cutlasses as old man Silas Applegate in the Hardy Boys' The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure (he also had a brief appearance in the second Hardy Boys serial produced by Disney).
Between 1950 to 1958 he had many other roles in both film and television. Ames appeared alongside some of the biggest names in 1950s Hollywood: Grace Kelly, Robert Mitchum, Barry Sullivan, Marlon Brando, Anthony Quinn, Glenn Ford, Greer Garson, Doris Day, to name a few.
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
Page first published on May 16. 2016
Last updated October 21, 2017
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