Sam Ash (actor)

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Sam Ash
Samuel Howard Ash in 1918.jpg
Ash in 1918
Background information
Birth nameSamuel Howard Ash
Born(1884-08-28)August 28, 1884
Campbell County, Kentucky, US
DiedOctober 20, 1951(1951-10-20) (aged 67)
Hollywood, California, US
GenresVaudeville, musical theatre, films
Occupation(s)Singer, actor
Years active1914–1951
LabelsColumbia, Emerson, OKeh, Grey Gull, Gennett

Samuel Howard Ash (August 28, 1884 – October 20, 1951), usually credited as Sam Ash, was an American vaudeville performer, singer, and movie actor who appeared in minor roles in over 200 films, including It's a Wonderful Life.


He was born in Campbell County, Kentucky,[1] of English-born parents who had immigrated to the US. By 1900 he was living with his parents and siblings in Cincinnati, Ohio,[2] and in 1910 lived in Chicago.[3] He was unrelated to Sam Ash, born Samuel Ashkynase (1897–1956), founder of the eponymous musical instrument store, despite some erroneous claims[4] that they were one and the same person.

He first recorded as a tenor singer for Columbia Records in 1914,[5] and the following year found success in a duet with Elida Morris, "Hello Frisco!" from the Broadway musical Ziegfeld Follies of 1915.[6] In December 1915 he appeared on the Broadway stage, in a leading role in Rudolf Friml's operetta Katinka, which ran for over 200 performances.[7] He recorded regularly for Columbia over the next few years.[5] In 1915 he made one of his most commercially successful recordings, "America, I Love You",[6] and in 1917 he recorded "Cleopatra Had a Jazz Band".[4] His regular appearances in Broadway revues included Doing Our Bit (1917), Monte Cristo Jr. (1919), and Oh, What A Girl! (1919) among others.[8] In the 1920s he continued to record for Columbia as well as for a number of other record labels, including Little Wonder, Gennett, Grey Gull, and OKeh.[1][6] He also continued to appear in Broadway musicals, including Some Party in 1922, The Passing Show of 1922, and Houseboat on the Styx in 1928.[8]

From 1929, he was based in Hollywood. He made his film debut that year, third on the bill as a suspect in the Craig Kennedy mystery Unmasked, starring Robert Warwick in his first "talkie".[7] Over the next two decades he had hundreds of small parts in movies, playing characters such as waiters, news vendors, ship stewards, and reporters.[7] In Mad Love, starring Peter Lorre, his role was one of the detectives seeking the murderer. In It's a Wonderful Life, in 1946, he played the part of the nervous bank teller trying to calm the crowd when they demand their savings.[1] Ash also featured in a number of popular film serials such as Dick Tracy, The Masked Marvel, and Captain America.[1] He appeared in 205 movies between 1929 and 1953; his last two films were released posthumously.

He died in Hollywood in 1951, at the age of 67, and was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Biography by Eugene Chadbourne at Retrieved 5 June 2013
  2. ^ 1900 United States Federal Census for Samuel Ash. Retrieved 5 June 2013
  3. ^ 1910 United States Federal Census for Samuel H Ash. Retrieved 5 June 2013
  4. ^ a b Scott Alexander, The First Jazz Records. Retrieved 5 June 2013
  5. ^ a b Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved 19 November 2015
  6. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954: The History of American Popular Music. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research, Inc. p. 36. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  7. ^ a b c Biography by Hans J, Wollstein at Retrieved 5 June 2013
  8. ^ a b Sam Ash at Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 5 June 2013

External links[edit]