Fox Publicity Department
Don Ameche seldom eats at home, although his wife is a good cook. Don explained that he doesn’t like home cooking and particularly dislikes the idea of going home and eating a meal that is not of his own choice—since he never can make up his mind about just what he wants to eat until he sits down to dine. After work at the film studio, he usually meets his wife and they go to a restaurant. He is fond of spaghetti.
After practicing Irish brogue for hours before appearing on the radio in “Anna Christie” as Matt Burke, opposite Barbara Stanwyck (Nov. 7), Don unconscientiously lapsed into the brogue the next day while playing a film role opposite Sonja Henie in “Happy Ending.” These scenes, of course, were ruined, since he plays the role of a fast0talking American band promoter, and the brogue was decidedly out of character.
Don, who doesn’t look the part at all, is one of the greatest ribbers or practical jokers on the lot. He started a gag on Jackie Fields, former prizefighter and now assistant business manager of film company units on the lot. The gag cost Jackie his new sport coat, so brilliant in colors it would have made Jacob envious. Jackie strutted into the studio café for luncheon one day and bumped into Don, who looked him over critically and then asked him who did his tailoring. Director Norman Taurog joined them in time to catch the conversation and he took up the rib. “Does your tailor have this style’s year book?” Taurog asked, without a flicker of a smile.
“What’s wrong with it?” Jackie wanted to know.
“Oh, nothing, I guess,” Taurog replied.
That ended the conversation then, but Taurog kept the gag going by sending first one person and then another over to Jackie to ask him something about his coat. Later, it was learned, Jackie telephoned his tailor, read him the riot act and made him alter the coat until it REALLY didn’t fit him. Appearing with the ill-fitting sport jacket on the next day, Jackie was engaged by real well wishers this time who wanted to know how Fields happened to buy such a “hand-me-down.”
Fields, by this time sick of the coat, which at first had so pleased him, so it to a fellow in the property department and got his money back.
To while away the tension of a film set, Don slipped on the set ahead of the rest of the company one noon and secretly removed everything from Alice Faye’s dressing room. Alice at first thought she had been robbed and frantically called police to notify them of the loss. Don, meanwhile, had tipped the cops, who came on the set and searched in a desultory fashion to heighten Alice’s anxiety. She was fit to be tied when she discovered it was just one of Don’s ribs. So, to get revenge, she wrote a letter, signed and purporting to come from a high studio executive. The letter reprimanded Don for “bothering the star of the picture.” Don did a little sleuthing and discovered the note had come from Alice, so he got some real stationary of one of the big studio executives and did an excellent bit of forgery, reprimanding her severely for writing Ameche a letter and signing an executive’s name to it “just for the sake of a joke.” Alice was alarmed and started to go to the administration building to explain “all,” when Don overtook her and explained he had forged the letter to her. Alice, angry as all get out at first, laughed a laugh of relief as well as amusement.
During the filming of “In Old Chicago,” one of the men in the sound department collapsed on the set. At the hospital it was discovered he was suffering with tuberculosis. Don appealed to the rest of the cast and started a fund with $100. The company raised enough to send the victim to the desert near Palm Springs, where he is at present “taking the cure.”
On Alice Faye’s last birthday anniversary, Don fixed a surprise party for her. They were working together in the musical, “You Can’t Have Everything,” and in a café scene they had to eat spaghetti for several different days. So Don presented Alice with a beautifully decorated cake in the studio’s café. Alice, expecting another gag, though the cake must be full of spaghetti. She didn’t want to be caught with the rib, so she smacked her hands into the cake, and it really was cake.
Don and Alice ribbed Director Norman Taroug by placing smoke pots in his car, which were ignited by a slow burning small fuse. Taurog got several blocks away from the studio before the pots in the back of the car started turning out their dense fumes. Taurog slapped on the breaks, leaped out of the car and telephoned the fire department. He didn’t discover the gag until the fireman arrived.
Don dropped in recently at the home of Polly Ann Young, sister of Loretta Young, to arrange for a surprise birthday anniversary for his wife in September. Don was aided by Polly’s husband, Carter Hermann, business man. That evening Don drove home to San Fernando Valley to get his wife to go out for their usual dinner out.
When they got near Polly’s home, it was late, but Don said “let’s drop in for just a moment.” Mrs. Ameche was embarrassed because of the hour, Polly’s possible plans and complications. When they walked into the house, Mrs. Ameche spotted an elaborately decorated table in the background. She became panic stricken and wanted to leave, realizing that Polly had other plans, but Don nonchalantly walked out in the garden with Carter. As time went o the situation became more awkward. Suddenly the front door opened and a crowd of formally dressed men and women walked in. Mrs. Ameche almost had a stroke, but Don came to the front just then to tell his wife it was a surprise birthday party for her. Surprise indeed!
Don’s brother, Jimmy, 22, is also a radio performer. He is known on the air as Jack Armstorng. Another brother, Bert, is studying architecture at Georgetown, Washington, D. C.