Susie Ameche, CEO Make Be-Leaves
“This page is dedicated to some of the historic figures in the Ameche family…
Two in particular: my uncle, Don Ameche, whose movies you can see today, including Alexander Graham Bell, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Heaven Can Wait, That Night in Rio, In Old Chicago, Moon Over Miami, Trading Places and Cocoon.
Also very notable is my father. Recently the estate has released paintings and lithography of Bert Ameche to the public for sale. These works of art were made popular in the ’80s and ’90s, sold to many prestigious clientele including the famous pianist, Van Cliburn. Bert’s paintings could be seen in personal art galleries including Del Mar Art Center Gallery, Del Mar, and Montecito Gallery & Frame, Montecito, and were sold worldwide.
In memory of my dearest father, I have taken control of these beautiful works and am offering Giclee copies of his work. They are in very limited supply, however, I feel his work should not go forgotten.” – Susie Ameche
Bert studied architecture at Catholic University in Washington D.C. – where he met his future wife, Rita Vernon – and at Fontainbleau School of Fine Arts in Fontainbleau, France. During and after his studies in Europe, Bert developed a passion for painting – and began doing watercolors of many of the classical European sites. His love of painting started by doing colored perspectives (renderings) of school design projects.
Bert worked for 45 years as an architect with prestigious firms, with his own firm and with the United States Government. Bert served as the President of the Southern California Chapter of the Society of American Registered Architects.
After retiring from architecture and raising six children, Bert pursued his first love of painting with watercolors. He and Rita traveled frequently to Europe – mostly to Italy – seeking out new sites and new subjects for his paintings. His background in architecture, with the old-school method of hand drawing, has influenced his strongly realistic style and exceptional attention to detail. At one time, Bert’s paintings were exhibited in fine galleries in Carmel, Montecito, and La Jolla, California, and many of his paintings are in the homes of other talented artists and serious collectors.
Don AmecheDon was an American actor and comedian, and radio personality. After playing in college shows, stock, and vaudeville, Don became a major radio star in the early 1930’s – most known for the popular radio show The Bickersons. He made his first film debut in 1935, and by 1939 Don was the second-highest-paid actor at 20th Century Fox Studios.
Don is most famous for the lead role in Alexander Graham Bell – so much so, that it was common at that time to call the telephone the “Ameche”. Don played the leading man in 40 films in a span of 14 years. Eventually, Don wanted out of his contract – desiring to expand his acting depth, versus the typical musical movies at the time. This caused him to be virtually black-balled from the movie industry, but Don continued to work steadily between the stage – including Silk Stockings on Broadway, radio, and television – most known as the host for International Showtime.
In 1983, Don was approached about playing a lead role in the movie Trading Places. Another actor was originally chosen for the role, but did not pass the new, stringent physical examination. Don remained “on his game” his entire life: including going to daily Mass, power walking 5 miles plus calisthenics daily, enjoying reading and being informed of current events. So he was immediately scooped up for the role. Don’s next role in the movie Cocoon, won him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1985 – at age 77. Don continued to work until several weeks before his death – on his final film, Corinna Corinna.
Throughout Don’s life, he was extremely generous to his family: his parents, his siblings, their children – and continually provided financial assistance to poor churches.
Jim is most famous for his role as Jack Armstrong on radio’s original Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy show. He continued to be well-known for radio shows on WGN in Chicago, various shows in Hollywood, Los Angeles, and Palm Springs, and later was a popular radio personality in the New York City area. Jim was married with five children.
Alan “the Horse” Ameche
Acclaimed as the best fullback Wisconsin ever produced, Alan was christened the name “the Horse” because he worked like a horse in practice, had unflagging stamina, said to personify sheer brute strength. Although Alan was a reserved, polite man in his personal life, he a force to be reckoned with on the gridiron.
During college at the University of Wisconsin, Alan was an Academic All-American and named MVP. In 1954 Alan won the Heisman trophy.
In his professional career, Alan is most famous for his performance in the NFL Championship game at Yankee Stadium in 1958 – between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants. Called the greatest game ever played – Alan scored the winning touchdown in the league’s first-ever sudden-death overtime.
After his football career ended due to an injury, Alan, his wife, and six children remained on the east coast. He went on to open a chain of Gino’s Restaurant in over 300 locations – which was eventually sold to Marriott Corporation. Throughout his life, Alan continued to participate in multiple philanthropic organizations.
(later changed to Felix Ameche upon arrival to America).
Felice was born in 1873 in a small town, Montemonaco, near Ascoli Piceno, Italy. In his late teens, Felice fought in one of the Italo-Ethiopian war in Africa. His company was ambushed, and Felice successfully escaped – traveling solo for a month across the desert until he reached the sea. Upon his return, Felice decided to travel to America to start a new life. Initially, Felix worked in the coal mines, taking on any job to get by. Eventually, he became an entrepreneur, after settling in Kenosha, WI with real estate including a hotel, bakery, and saloon – with his wife and eight children. When the depression hit, Felix lost everything – and his oldest son, Don, financially took care of Felix and his family – eventually bringing them out to southern California. With the same entrepreneurial spirit, Felix re-built his real estate in the San Fernando Valley.
Felix is a great example of the American Dream: the story of the underdog overachieving: overcoming and becoming.