Ted Mack (radio-TV host)
Mack in 1949.
|Born||William Edward Maguiness
February 12, 1904
|Died||July 12, 1976
North Tarrytown, New York
William Edward Maguiness (February 12, 1904 – July 12, 1976), known as Ted Mack, was the host of Ted Mack and the Original Amateur Hour on radio and television.
Mack was born in Greeley, Colorado. In the late 1920s, clarinetist Mack formed a dance band, under his real name. A nightclub owner didn't like how "Edward Maguiness" looked on his marquee, so he changed the bandleader's name to the shorter and snappier "Ted Mack." The name stuck. The Original Amateur Hour began on radio in 1934 as Major Bowes' Amateur Hour, and ran until 1946 when Major Bowes, the creator, died. Mack, a talent scout who had directed the show under Bowes, revived it in 1948 for ABC Radio and the DuMont Television Network.
It lasted on radio until 1952 and until 1970 on television, where it ran on all four major networks, ending as a Sunday afternoon CBS staple. A success in the early days of television, the program set the stage for numerous programs seeking talented stars, from The Gong Show to Star Search to American Idol to America's Got Talent.
Auditions for the show were generally held in New York's Radio City Music Hall. Those who passed the initial screening were invited to compete on the program, featuring amateurs whose performance were judged by viewers, voting via letters and phone calls. Contestants who won three times earned cash prizes, scholarships, or participation in a traveling stage show associated with the program.
Winners who went on to show business careers included singers Gladys Knight, Ann-Margret, Pat Boone, Raul Julia, Teresa Brewer, Irene Cara, The Rock and Roll Trio and Los Concertinos from Puerto Rico.
Ted Mack and producer Lewis Graham (the former Lou Goldberg) programmed something for everybody. A single broadcast (Easter Sunday, 1959) featured an opera singer, a trumpet sextet, a dulcimer player, a kiddie dance troupe, a young vocalist, a dancer, a rhythm-and-blues combo, a barbershop quartet, and mother-and-son Irish step dancers. Mack's pleasant manner and unflappable calm put many nervous contestants at ease, and he used the same down-to-earth tone for commercials and public-service announcements.
Mack and his wife Ellen had no children but fostered children from Catholic charities at their home. He died in North Tarrytown, New York at the age of 72.
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