Friday, October 24, 2014
Ed Ames, the lead singer of The Ames Brothers, was a pop star back in the 1950s. Together with three of his brothers, his top hits included Rag Mop, You You You, It Only Hurts for a Little While, and The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane.
Ames, now 87, was born in Malden, Massachusetts to Jewish immigrants from Ukraine. After the singing group disbanded in the 1960s, he pursued an acting career. Because of his dark complexion and facial bone structure, he was often cast in Native American roles, including that of Mingo, a Cherokee tribesman, on the NBC television series, Daniel Boone, with Fess Parker.
While playing Mingo on television, Ames developed some skill in throwing a tomahawk. This led to one of the most memorable moments of his career, when he appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on April 29, 1965. During the course of the show, Ames and Johnny Carson were discussing Ames' tomahawk throwing abilities.
When Ames claimed that he could hit a target from across the room, Carson asked Ames if he could demonstrate this skill. Ames agreed, and a wood panel with a chalk outline of a cowboy was brought on to the stage. As the studio band played, Ames proceeded to throw the tomahawk, which hit the "cowboy" square in the groin with the handle pointing upward. This led to a very long burst of laughter from the audience, which has been called the longest sustained laugh by a live audience in television history.
After a moment, Ames proceeded to walk toward the target to retrieve the tomahawk but Carson stopped him and allowed the situation to be appreciated for its humor. Carson ad-libbed: "I didn't even know you were Jewish!" and "Welcome to Frontier Bris." Ames then asked Carson if he would like to take a turn throwing, to which Carson replied: "I can't hurt him any more than you did." The clip became a favorite of Carson's own yearly highlight show and subsequent blooper television specials.
(Special thanks to Marnie Winston-Macauley, Aish.com's humor columnist, for finding this gem and including it in a collection of "Jewpers," bloopers with Jewish content published this week at Aish.com.)
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