Leon Ames

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Leon Ames
Leon Ames in The Postman Always Rings Twice trailer.jpg
as Kyle Sackett from the trailer for the film
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
Born Harry Wycoff
(1902-01-20)January 20, 1902
Portland, Indiana, U.S.
Died October 12, 1993(1993-10-12) (aged 91)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1931–1986
Spouse(s) Christine Gossett (1938-1993; his death; 2 children) (1912-2005)
Children Shelley Ames (b. 1940)
Leon Ames Jr. (b. 1943)

Leon Ames (January 20, 1902 – October 12, 1993) was an American film and television actor. He is best remembered for playing father figures in such films as Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) with Judy Garland as one of his daughters, Little Women (1949), On Moonlight Bay (1951) and By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953). The fathers whom Ames portrayed were often somewhat stuffy and exasperated by the younger generation, but ultimately kind and understanding. His most famous role came as DA Kyle Sackett from the film The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946).

Life and career[edit]

Leon Ames was born Harry Wycoff[1][2] on January 20, 1902, in Portland, Indiana, son of Charles Elmer Wycoff and his wife Cora A. De Moss..[3] Some sources list his original last name as "Wykoff" or "Waycoff", and in his early films, he acted under the name Leon Waycoff.

Ames made his film debut in Quick Millions (1931). During the 1940s, he was under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Ames made his first radio appearance in January 1947 on Grand Central Station.[4]

Ames appeared in a featured role in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) as district attorney Kyle Sackett. He also appeared in the Doris Day-Gordon MacRae film On Moonlight Bay and in its sequel, By the Light of the Silvery Moon; and Peyton Place (1957). He played the role of Samuel Eaton, Alfred Eaton's (Paul Newman) father, in From the Terrace (1960). He appeared in the 1961 Walt Disney comedy, The Absent-Minded Professor as Medfield College President Rufus Daggett, and in the 1963 sequel, Son of Flubber. In 1970, he played Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox in the action war film Tora! Tora! Tora!. His last film role was in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), as Kathleen Turner's character's grandfather Barney Alvorg.

His television roles included leads in the adaptations of Life With Father (1953–55) and Father of the Bride (1961–62). His presence in the latter program was such that, after the show had been on the air a few months, Ames' role was increased because "'father,' as played by veteran character actor Leon Ames became the dominant figure in the whole show."[5]

He joined the cast of Mister Ed (1963–66) as Wilbur Post's neighbor, Colonel Gordon Kirkwood, after Larry Keating's death. He also appeared in episodes of the NBC anthology series, The Barbara Stanwyck Show and on the short-lived CBS legal drama, Storefront Lawyers.

He was one of the founders of the Screen Actors Guild in 1933.[2] He served as its president in 1957.

In 1980, after 50 years in show business, Leon Ames was presented with the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.


On February 12, 1964, Ames and his wife were held hostage in their home as an intruder demanded $50,000 before he would free them. Ames called his business partner, who obtained the money from a bank and delivered it to the house as instructed. After inspecting the cash, the kidnapper left Ames in the house, bound with tape, and instructed Mrs. Ames to drive him in the couple's car. He also forced both the business partner and a guest in the Ames house into the trunk. Eventually, police (who had been alerted by the partner while he was picking up the money) surrounded the car and freed the hostages.[6]



  1. ^ http://www.costumedesignersguild.com/aw-archive/aw-recipient.asp?AwardID=3&awardtype=4
  2. ^ a b Cameron-Wilson, James; Speed, F. Maurice (1994), Film Review 1994-5, Great Britain: Virgin Books, p. 162, ISBN 0-86369-842-5 
  3. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=nxcNAAAAIAAJ&dq=Cora+Demoss++Charles+Wycoff&q=Wycoff
  4. ^ Lesser, Jerry (January 17, 1942). "Radio Talent: New York". Billboard. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  5. ^ Gray, M (March 3, 1962). "Father of Bride Dominant Figure". Simpson's Leader-Times. p. 10. Retrieved September 2, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  6. ^ Rieder, Ron (February 13, 1964). "Kidnap, Free Mrs. Leon Ames". The Van Nuys News. pp. 1, 18. Retrieved September 2, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Katharine Hepburn
Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award
Succeeded by
Danny Kaye