Leon Ames – biography, fact, career, awards, net worth and life story

Was Activist 
Stage actor 
Television actor 
Trade unionist 
From United States of America 
Type Activism 
Film, TV, Stage & Radio 
Birth 20 January 1902, Portland, Jay County, Indiana, U.S.A.
Death 12 October 1993, Laguna Beach, Orange County, California, U.S.A.
(aged 91 years)
Star sign Aquarius
Politics Republican Party

Leon Ames (January 20, 1902 – October 12, 1993) was an American film and television actor. He is best remembered for playing father figures in such films as Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) with Judy Garland as one of his daughters, Little Women (1949), On Moonlight Bay (1951), and By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953). The fathers whom Ames portrayed were often somewhat stuffy and exasperated by the younger generation, but ultimately kind and understanding. His most famous role came as DA Kyle Sackett from the film The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946).

Life and career

Leon Ames was born Harry Wycoff on January 20, 1902, in Portland, Indiana, son of Charles Elmer Wycoff and his wife Cora A. De Moss.. Some sources list his original last name as “Wykoff” or “Waycoff”, and in his early films, he acted under the name Leon Waycoff.

Ames made his film debut in Quick Millions (1931). During the 1940s, he was under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Ames made his first radio appearance in January 1947 on Grand Central Station.

Ames appeared in a featured role in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) as district attorney Kyle Sackett. He also appeared in the Doris Day-Gordon MacRae film On Moonlight Bay, its sequel, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, and Peyton Place (1957). He played the role of Samuel Eaton, Alfred Eaton’s (Paul Newman) father, in From the Terrace (1960). He appeared in the 1961 Walt Disney comedy The Absent-Minded Professor as Medfield College President Rufus Daggett and in the 1963 sequel, Son of Flubber. In 1970, he played Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox in the action war film Tora! Tora! Tora!. His last film role was in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), as Kathleen Turner’s character’s grandfather Barney Alvorg.

His television roles included leads in the adaptations of Life With Father (1953–55) and Father of the Bride (1961–62). His presence in the latter program was such that, after the show had been on the air a few months, Ames’ role was increased because “‘father,’ as played by veteran character actor Leon Ames became the dominant figure in the whole show.”

He joined the cast of Mister Ed (1963–66) as Wilbur Post’s neighbor, retired Colonel Gordon Kirkwood, after the death of actor Larry Keating, who had played Post’s neighbor Roger Addison. Ames also appeared in episodes of the NBC anthology series, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, and on the short-lived CBS legal drama, Storefront Lawyers.

He was one of the founders of the Screen Actors Guild in 1933. He served as its president in 1957.

In 1980, after 50 years in show business, Leon Ames was presented with the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.


On February 12, 1964, Ames and his wife were held hostage in their home as an intruder demanded $50,000 before he would free them. Ames called his business partner, who obtained the money from a bank and delivered it to the house as instructed. After inspecting the cash, the kidnapper left Ames in the house, bound with tape, and instructed Mrs. Ames to drive him in the couple’s car. He also forced both the business partner and a guest in the Ames house into the trunk. Eventually, police (who had been alerted by the partner while he was picking up the money) surrounded the car and freed the hostages.

Partial filmography

  • Quick Millions (1931) as Hood
  • Cannonball Express (1932) as Jack Logan
  • Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) as Pierre Dupin
  • Stowaway (1932) as Tommy
  • State’s Attorney (1932) as First Trial Prosecutor (uncredited)
  • The Famous Ferguson Case (1932) as Judd Brooks
  • Thirteen Women (1932) as Undetermined Role (scenes deleted)
  • A Successful Calamity (1932) as Barney Davis – Witon’s Junior Associate (as Leon Waycoff)
  • That’s My Boy (1932) as Al Williams (as Leon Waycoff)
  • Uptown New York (1932) as Max Silver (as Leon Waycoff)
  • Silver Dollar (1932) as Yates’ Secretary (uncredited)
  • Parachute Jumper (1933) as Pilot with Alabama (uncredited)
  • Forgotten (1933) as Louie Strauss (as Leon Waycoff)
  • Alimony Madness (1933) as John Thurman (as Leon Waycoff)
  • The Man Who Dared (1933) as (as Leon Waycoff)
  • Ship of Wanted Men (1933) as Capt. John Holden (as Leon Waycoff)
  • Only Yesterday (1933) as Lee (uncredited)
  • The Crosby Case (1934) as Clifford Mulford (uncredited)
  • I’ll Tell the World (1934) as Spud Marshall (as Leon Waycoff)
  • Now I’ll Tell (1934) as Max (as Leon Waycoff)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (1934) as Beauchamp (uncredited)
  • Mutiny Ahead (1935) as McMurtrie
  • Rescue Squad (1935) as Lester Vaughn
  • Reckless (1935) as Ralph Watson (as Leon Waycoff)
  • Strangers All (1935) as Frank Walker
  • Get That Man (1935) as Don Clayton / McDonald (as Leon Waycoff)
  • Death in the Air (1936) as Carl Goering
  • Charlie Chan on Broadway (1937) as Buzz Moran
  • Dangerously Yours (1937) as Phil
  • Murder in Greenwich Village (1937) as Rodney Hunter
  • 45 Fathers (1937) as Vincent
  • The Spy Ring (1938) as Frank Denton
  • International Settlement (1938) as Monte Silvers
  • Walking Down Broadway (1938) as Frank Gatty
  • Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938) as Ex-Chauffeur (uncredited)
  • Island in the Sky (1938) as Marty Butler
  • Come On, Leathernecks! (1938) as Otto Wagner / Baroni
  • Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938) as Paul Brissac
  • Suez (1938) as Napoleon III – Emperor of France
  • Cipher Bureau (1938) as Maj. Philip Waring
  • Strange Faces (1938) as Joe Gurney
  • Secrets of a Nurse (1938) as Joe Largo
  • Risky Business (1939) as Hinge Jackson
  • Blackwell’s Island (1939) as County Prosceutor Ballinger (uncredited)
  • I Was a Convict (1939) as Jackson
  • Panama Patrol (1939) as Maj. Phillip Waring
  • Mr. Moto in Danger Island (1939) as Commissioner Madero
  • Code of the Streets (1939) as ‘Chick’ Foster
  • Man of Conquest (1939) as John Hoskins
  • Fugitive at Large (1939) as Carter
  • Thunder Afloat (1939) as Recruiting Officer (uncredited)
  • Calling All Marines (1939) as Murdock
  • Pack Up Your Troubles (1939) as Adjutant
  • Marshal of Mesa City (1939) as Sheriff Jud Cronin
  • Legion of Lost Flyers (1939) as Smythe
  • East Side Kids (1940) as Pat O’Day
  • No Greater Sin (1941) as Dr. Edward Cavanaugh
  • Ellery Queen and the Murder Ring (1941) as John Stack
  • Crime Doctor (1943) as William Wheeler
  • The Iron Major (1943) as Robert ‘Bob’ Stewart
  • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944) as Lieut. Jurika
  • Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) as Mr. Alonzo Smith
  • Between Two Women (1945) as Mr. Masters (uncredited)
  • Son of Lassie (1945) as Anton
  • Anchors Aweigh (1945) as Admiral’s Aide
  • Week-End at the Waldorf (1945) as Henry Burton
  • Yolanda and the Thief (1945) as Mr. Candle
  • They Were Expendable (1945) as Major James Morton
  • The Thin Man Goes Home (1945) as Edgar Draque
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) as Kyle Sackett
  • No Leave, No Love (1946) as Colonel Elliott
  • The Cockeyed Miracle (1946) as Ralph Humphrey
  • The Show-Off (1946) as Frank Harlin
  • The Great Morgan (1946) as K.F. Studio Exec
  • Lady in the Lake (1947) as Derace Kingsby
  • Undercover Maisie (1947) as Amor aka Willis Farnes
  • Song of the Thin Man (1947) as Mitchell Talbin
  • Merton of the Movies (1947) as Lawrence Rupert
  • Alias a Gentleman (1948) as Matt Enley
  • On an Island with You (1948) as Commander Harrison
  • The Velvet Touch (1948) as Gordon Dunning
  • A Date with Judy (1948) as Lucien T. Pringle
  • Little Women (1949) as Mr. March
  • Any Number Can Play (1949) as Dr. Palmer
  • Scene of the Crime (1949) as Capt. A.C. Forster
  • Battleground (1949) as The Chaplain
  • Ambush (1950) as Maj. C.E. Breverly
  • The Big Hangover (1950) as Carl Bellcap
  • The Skipper Surprised His Wife (1950) as Dr. Philip Abbott
  • Crisis (1950) as Sam Proctor
  • The Happy Years (1950) as Samuel H. Stover – Sr.
  • Dial 1119 (1950) as Earl
  • Watch the Birdie (1950) as Grantland D. Farns
  • On Moonlight Bay (1951) as George Winfield
  • Cattle Drive (1951) as Chester Graham Sr.
  • It’s a Big Country (1951) as Secret Service Man
  • Angel Face (1952) as Fred Barrett
  • By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953) as George Winfield
  • Let’s Do It Again (1953) as Chet Stuart
  • Sabre Jet (1953) as Lt. Col. George Eckert
  • Life with Father (1953-1955) Television
  • Peyton Place (1957) as Mr. Harrington
  • From the Terrace (1960) as Samuel Eaton
  • The Absent-Minded Professor (1961) as President Rufus Daggett
  • Father of the Bride (1961-1962) Television as Stanley Banks
  • Son of Flubber (1963) as President Rufus Daggett
  • The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964) as Judge Holmsby / Lex Fortas
  • The Monkey’s Uncle (1965) as Judge Holmsby
  • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1970) Television – 1 episode as Bradford Williams
  • On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970) as Burt Clews
  • Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) as Frank Knox
  • Toklat (1971) as Old Man / Narrator
  • Hammersmith Is Out (1972) as General Sam Pembroke
  • Brother of the Wind (1973) as Narrator (voice)
  • The Meal (1975) as Bernard Wallace Kroger
  • Timber Tramps (1975) as Deacon
  • Claws (1977) as Ben Jones, Forest Commissioner
  • Just You and Me, Kid (1979) as Manduke the Magnificent
  • Testament (1983) as Henry Abhart
  • Jake Speed (1986) as Pop Winston
  • Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) as Barney Alvorg (final film role)