Leon Ames

Leon Ames


Also Known As
Leon Waycoff, Leon Wykoff
Birth Place
Portland, Indiana, USA
January 20, 1902
October 12, 1993
Cause of Death
Complications Resulting From A Stroke


Pleasant-looking, dapper, often mustachioed character actor best known for his paternal roles and a wide variety of professional types. Ames, who early in his career used the surname of "Waycoff," made his screen debut as the romantic hero in Robert Florey's striking horror film, "Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1932). Shortly afterward, Ames played a role as important as any he played onscr...

Photos & Videos

Son of Flubber - Pressbook
The Absent-Minded Professor - Pressbook

Family & Companions

Christine Gossett
Actor. Married in 1938; met on Hollywood sound stage.


Pleasant-looking, dapper, often mustachioed character actor best known for his paternal roles and a wide variety of professional types. Ames, who early in his career used the surname of "Waycoff," made his screen debut as the romantic hero in Robert Florey's striking horror film, "Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1932). Shortly afterward, Ames played a role as important as any he played onscreen when, in 1933, he was one of 19 actors who met to form the Screen Actors Guild. In an organization whose ranks eventually swelled to well over 80,000, Ames, card number 15, served long and well as a member of the board for over 30 years and also as recording secretary (1947-48), first vice president (1952-56) and president (1957-58).

Waycoff adopted the surname "Ames" beginning with the film "Strangers All" (1935) and continued his long stage ("It Pays to Sin" 1933, "Bright Honor" 1936) and screen ("The Mysterious Mr. Moto" 1938, "Man of Conquest" 1939) apprenticeship in dozens of minor and then supporting roles. Ames gained increased prominence at MGM in the 1940s after he gave a marvelous performance as the harassed head of the Smith household in Vincente Minnelli's delightful period musical, "Meet Me in St. Louis" (1944). Thereafter he was immediately typecast as forceful, but warm and benevolent, fathers and professional men in films ranging from "Yolanda and the Thief" (1945) to "Battleground" (1949). Although he gave a strong performance as the shrewd prosecuting attorney in "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946), Ames returned to his paternal role on the television series, "Life With Father" (1953-55) and "Father of the Bride" (1961-62). He also later played neighbor Gordon Kirkwood in TV's "Mr. Ed" (1961-66). In a film and TV career spanning hundreds of credits covering more than half a century (his last feature part was as Kathleen Turner's grandfather in "Peggy Sue Got Married" 1986), the always-welcome Ames brought to his roles his attractive, commanding voice and a smooth professionalism.



Cast (Feature Film)

Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
Jake Speed (1986)
Testament (1983)
Just You And Me, Kid (1979)
Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976)
Daniel Furman
The Meal (1975)
Timber Tramps (1975)
Hammersmith Is Out (1972)
General Sam Pembroke
Toklat (1971)
Narr/Old man
On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970)
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
Frank Knox
The Monkey's Uncle (1965)
Judge Holmsby
The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964)
Judge Holmby
Son of Flubber (1963)
Pres. Rufus Daggett
The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)
Pres. Rufus Daggett
From the Terrace (1960)
Samuel Eaton
Peyton Place (1957)
Leslie Harrington
Let's Do It Again (1953)
Chet Stuart
By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953)
George Winfield
Angel Face (1953)
Fred Barrett
Sabre Jet (1953)
Lt. Col. Eckert
It's a Big Country: An American Anthology (1952)
Secret Service man
On Moonlight Bay (1951)
George Winfield
Cattle Drive (1951)
Chester Graham, Sr.
Watch the Birdie (1951)
Grantland D. Farns
The Skipper Surprised His Wife (1950)
Dr. Philip Abbott
Crisis (1950)
Sam Proctor
Ambush (1950)
Major [C. E.] Breverly
The Happy Years (1950)
Samuel H. Stover, Sr.
The Big Hangover (1950)
Carl Bellcap
Dial 1119 (1950)
The Skipper Suprised His Wife (1950)
Scene of the Crime (1949)
Captain A. C. Forster
Any Number Can Play (1949)
Dr. Palmer
Little Women (1949)
Mr. March
Battleground (1949)
The chaplain
Alias a Gentleman (1948)
Matt Enley
A Date with Judy (1948)
Lucien T. Pringle
On an Island with You (1948)
Commander Harrisen
The Velvet Touch (1948)
Gordon Dunning
Lady in the Lake (1947)
Derace Kingsby
Song of the Thin Man (1947)
Mitchell Talbin
Merton of the Movies (1947)
Lawrence Rupert
Undercover Maisie (1947)
Amor, [assumed name of] Willis Farnes
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
Kyle Sackett
The Show-Off (1946)
Frank Harlin
No Leave, No Love (1946)
Colonel Elliott
The Cockeyed Miracle (1946)
Ralph Humphrey
Anchors Aweigh (1945)
Admiral's aide
Week-End at the Waldorf (1945)
Henry Burton
The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)
Edgar Draque
The Great Morgan (1945)
K. F.
They Were Expendable (1945)
Major James Morton
Yolanda and the Thief (1945)
Mr. Candle
Son of Lassie (1945)
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944)
Lieut. Jurika
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Mr. Alonzo ["Lon"] Smith
Crime Doctor (1943)
Captain William Wheeler
The Iron Major (1943)
Bob Stewart
Ellery Queen and the Murder Ring (1941)
John Stack
No Greater Sin (1941)
Dr. [Edward] Cavanaugh
East Side Kids (1940)
Pat O'Day
Risky Business (1939)
Hinge Jackson
Man of Conquest (1939)
John Hoskins
Legion of Lost Flyers (1939)
Blackwell's Island (1939)
Thunder Afloat (1939)
Recruiting officer
Pack Up Your Troubles (1939)
Fugitive at Large (1939)
I Was a Convict (1939)
Calling All Marines (1939)
Mr. Moto in Danger Island (1939)
Commissioner Madero
Code of the Streets (1939)
Chick Foster [also known as Denver Collins]
Panama Patrol (1939)
Major Phillip Waring
The Marshal of Mesa City (1939)
Sheriff Jud Cronin
Walking Down Broadway (1938)
Frank Gatty
Suez (1938)
Louis Napoleon
Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1938)
International Settlement (1938)
Monte Silvers
Island in the Sky (1938)
Marty Butler
Secrets of a Nurse (1938)
[Joe] Largo
Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938)
Paul Brissac
The Spy Ring (1938)
Frank Denton
Cipher Bureau (1938)
Philip Waring
Come On, Leathernecks (1938)
Otto Wagner
Strange Faces (1938)
Joe Gurney/William Evans
Murder in Greenwich Village (1937)
Rodney Hunter
Charlie Chan on Broadway (1937)
Buzz Moran
Dangerously Yours (1937)
45 Fathers (1937)
Death in the Air (1937)
Carl Goering
Get That Man (1935)
Don Clayton
Fighting Pilot (1935)
Strangers All (1935)
Frank Walker
Mutiny Ahead (1935)
Reckless (1935)
Ralph Watson
Rescue Squad (1935)
Lester Vaughn, a philanderer
The Count of Monte Cristo (1934)
The Crosby Case (1934)
Now I'll Tell (1934)
I'll Tell the World (1934)
The Man Who Dared: An Imaginative Biography (1933)
Yosef Novak
The Ship of Wanted Men (1933)
Captain John Holden
Alimony Madness (1933)
John Thurman
Only Yesterday (1933)
Forgotten (1933)
Louis Strauss
A Successful Calamity (1932)
Barney Davis
The Famous Ferguson Case (1932)
Judd Brooks
That's My Boy (1932)
Al Williams
Thirteen Women (1932)
State's Attorney (1932)
City prosecutor
Uptown New York (1932)
Max Silver
Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)
Pierre Dupin
Cannonball Express (1932)
Jack Logan
Silver Dollar (1932)
Stowaway (1932)
Quick Millions (1931)

Cast (Special)

The Wide Open Door (1967)

Cast (Short)

Engagement Party (1956)
Screen Actors (1950)
The Amazing Mr. Nordill (1947)
Song of Revolt (1937)
Soak the Poor (1937)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

The Best Place to Be (1979)

Life Events


Joined Charles K Champlin Company in Lansford, Pennsylvania; first as general business manager, then as actor in small parts


First film as actor, "Murders in the Rue Morgue"


Broadway debut in "It Pays to Sin"


Was one of the founding members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG)


Gave up his membership on SAG's board of directors because he was too busy with acting roles (date approximate)


Changed name to Ames, with film "Strangers All"


Signed to seven-year contract with MGM; first film under contract, "Meet Me in St. Louis"


Rejoined board of directors of SAG, replacing actor Charles Boyer


Served as recording secretary of SAG


Named a president emeritus of SAG


Last feature credit, "Peggy Sue Got Married"

Photo Collections

Son of Flubber - Pressbook
Here is the original campaign book (pressbook) for Disney's Son of Flubber (1963), starring Fred MacMurray. Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.
The Absent-Minded Professor - Pressbook
Here is the original campaign book (pressbook) for Disney's The Absent-Minded Professor (1961), starring Fred MacMurray. Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.


Movie Clip

Parachute Jumper (1933) -- (Movie Clip) He Must Need The Money Now kinda-platonic Manhattan roommates, Bette Davis as unemployed stenographer “Alabama” and jobless ex-military pilot Bill (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) visit an air show, where he finagles an impromptu gig, Leon Ames reassuring Bette, in one of her earliest, and least favorite Warner Bros. features, Parachute Jumper, 1933.
Lady In The Lake (1947) -- (Movie Clip) Imagine You Needing Ice Cubes! Audrey Totter (as editor "Adrienne Fromset") is the subject of director-star Robert Montgomery's camera, who, as Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, appears in a mirror, in this early scene from Lady In The Lake, 1947.
Lady In The Lake (1947) -- (Movie Clip) Opening Credits Give director and star Robert Montgomery credit right off the bat, going full-Christmas with the opening credits, then hitting the sour note, in the subjective-camera experiment Lady In The Lake, 1947, from Raymond Chandler's novel.
Any Number Can Play (1949) -- (Movie Clip) A Fancy Latin Name For It We’ve just met leading man Clark Gable as Charlie, well-regarded family man and owner of a high-end underground casino, and Leon Ames has been snuck in to meet him in private, the nature of their business revealed, early in MGM’s Any Number Can Play, 1949.
Blackwell's Island (1939) -- (Movie Clip) I Look Like A Waffle Reporter Tim (John Garfield), helped by witness Sunny (Rosemary Lane) and his editor (Joe Cunningham) slugs the D-A (Leon Ames) so he can get into the jail being run by gangster inmate Bull, where neighbor Benny (Charley Foy) shows him some ropes, in Blackwell’s Island, 1939.
Velvet Touch, The (1948) -- (Movie Clip) What Love Does To You Intense and expository opening, Broadway star Valerie (Rosalind Russell) with producer-partner Dunning (Leon Ames), in The Velvet Touch, 1948, produced by Russell's husband Frederick Brisson.
Velvet Touch, The (1948) -- (Movie Clip) You Don't Need A Passport In the long flashback after she semi-accidentally killed him, Broadway actress Val (Rosalind Russell) receives her domineering producer and former lover Gordon (Leon Ames), then his other-ex, rival fellow actress Marian (Claire Trevor), seeking her help in cutting ties, in The Velvet Touch, 1948.
Watch The Birdie (1951) -- (Movie Clip) I Christen You Destroyer Star Red Skelton is a camera shop owner who’s about to go under so he’s inspired to try freelance newsreel camera work, with a couple of fumbles before he meets Arlene Dahl as affluent Lucia, Leon Ames her skeptical counselor, early in MGM’s Watch The Birdie, 1951.
Watch The Birdie (1951) -- (Movie Clip) Miss Lucky Vista Red Skelton as rookie newsreel cameraman Rusty is shooting the ground-breaking for the Lucky Vista housing project, also playing his own Grand-Dad, where Ann Miller is the pageant winner, Pam Britton a dignitary, Arlene Dahl a financier and romantic prospect, in Watch The Birdie, 1951.
Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) -- (Movie Clip) The Lord And Master Trouble at dinnertime, Mother (Mary Astor) presides, Tootie (Margaret O’Brien) throws bombs, sisters (Judy Garland, Lucille Bremer) attempt composure, grandpa (Harry Davenport) wisecracks then father (Leon Ames) arrives, tangling with maid Katie (Marjorie Main), in Meet Me In St. Louis, 1944.
From The Terrace (1960) -- (Movie Clip) How Was The War? Arrived home from WWII, Alfred (Paul Newman) is greeted by giddy maids (Blossom Rock, Cecil Elliott), his mother (Myrna Loy), whom he finds has taken to drink, and his unkind Philadelphia steel magnate father (Leon Ames), in From The Terrace, 1960, from a John O’Hara novel.
Week-end At The Waldorf (1945) -- (Movie Clip) Loot From A Fan First scene for Leon Ames as producer Burton and Ginger Rogers as the much-mentioned movie star Irene, upstairs at a party preceding her premiere, her friend Dr. Campbell (Warner Anderson) standing by, in MGM's Week-end At The Waldorf, 1945.


Cockeyed Miracle, The - (Original Trailer) The ghosts of a father (Keenan Wynn) and son (Frank Morgan) sort out their family's problems in The Cockeyed Miracle (1946).
By the Light of the Silvery Moon - (Original Trailer) The life of a small-town girl (Doris Day) goes ballistic in the sequel to On Moonlight Bay, By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953).
Blackwell's Island - (Original Trailer) In order to expose a mobster, reporter John Garfield has himself sent to the prison on Blackwell's Island (1939).
Ambush - (Original Trailer) A Westerner (Robert Taylor) searches for a white woman held by the Apaches. The last movie from director Sam Wood (Good-bye Mr. Chips).
Alias a Gentleman - (Original Trailer) Wallace Beery plays an aging convict who tries to keep his daughter from following in his footsteps in Alias a Gentleman (1948).
Son Of Lassie - (Original Trailer) Peter Lawford and his dog are trapped behind enemy lines in World War II in the sequel to Lassie Come Home (1943).
Yolanda and the Thief - (Original Trailer) A con man poses as a Latin American heiress's guardian angel in Yolanda and the Thief (1945) starring Fred Astaire.
Anchors Aweigh - (Original Trailer) A pair of sailors on leave try to help a movie extra become a singing star in Anchors Aweigh (1945) starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Kathryn Grayson.
Battleground - (Original Trailer) American soldiers in France fight to survive a Nazi siege just before the Battle of the Bulge in Battleground (1949), directed by William Wellman and starring Van Johnson, John Hodiak and Ricardo Montalban.
Little Women (1949) - (Original Trailer) June Allyson is Jo and Elizabeth Taylor, Amy, seen here in the original theatrical trailer for the first color version of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, 1949, delivered by co-stars Peter Lawford and Janet Leigh.
Angel Face - (Original Trailer) Jean Simmons goes to the dark side playing an unscrupulous woman who murders her loved ones for profit in Otto Preminger's Angel Face (1952).
Undercover Maisie - (Original Trailer) Maisie the showgirl joins the police force and risks her life to expose a phony psychic in Undercover Maisie (1947).


Shelley Ames
Former actor, advertising executive. Born in 1941; played receptionist in father's TV series, "Father of the Bride" (1962).
Lee Ames
Stage actor. Born in 1944.


Christine Gossett
Actor. Married in 1938; met on Hollywood sound stage.