A native of Kenosha, Wisconsin, Don Ameche started his radio career in 1930 on Empire Builders, a program broadcast from Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.
By 1932, Ameche had become the leading man on two other Chicago-based programs: the dramatic anthology First Nighter and Betty and Bob, considered by many to be the forerunner of the soap-opera genre. In 1936, he moved to California and the following year began working on The Chase and Sanborn Hour. As master of ceremonies, he exchanged jokes with stars Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, singers Nelson Eddy and Dorothy Lamour and countless guest stars from Broadway and Hollywood.
Perhaps Ameche’s best-remembered role was that of the gruff John Bickerson, whose verbal battles with his argumentative wife Blanche (played by Frances Langford), were regularly heard on Drene Time, Ameche’s 1947 variety show. Although this sort of verbal jousting was new to both Ameche and Langford, the characters proved so enduring that the pair later recorded a series of Bickersons albums for Columbia Records.
After a long and successful career in radio, television and film, Don Ameche died on December 6, 1993.
He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1992.