The Official Website for The Original Amateur Hour

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This website is devoted to the classic radio and television series The Original Amateur Hour and is dedicated to the following four people who were instrumental in the long-running success of the series.

Major Edward Bowes

Major Edward Bowes — Host of the Radio Edition of The Original Amateur Hour

A real estate speculator who got into the entertainment business by buying a Boston theatre, Bowes built the famed Capitol Theatre in New York City in 1918 and was its managing director until his radio interests forced him to quit in the late 1930s.

The Original Amateur Hour grew out of his interest in the Capitol Theatre. In the early days of radio, as a promotion feature for the theatre, Bowes started a Sunday noon hour broadcast over local radio station WHN. By 1934, the idea of the Amateur Hour had evolved, and the program was presented nationally.

It was an instant success. Bowes' name became a byword, his sing-song "All right, all right," when waving aside an inept performer was mimicked by millions. Major Bowes' Amateur Hour units toured the country, taking the place of vaudeville. Bowes himself began a series of travels and personal appearances that reached its climax when 67 cities had named him honorary mayor.

The program stayed at the top of the polls for the rest of the 1930s, but just before World War II, it started to fall off.

The war finished it. One of the features of the Amateur Hour was audience participation — the listeners were invited to telephone in their choices for best performer on each program. These calls ran to 20,000 an hour in half a dozen cities. Wartime telephone restrictions forced Bowes to abandon this feature.

He kept the show going throughout the war, however, playing at Army camps whenever possible. But the taste had changed, and in April 1945, Bowes retired from radio.

He died at his country home in Rumson, New Jersey on June 14, 1946, on the eve of his 72nd birthday.

Ted Mack

Ted Mack — Host of the Television Edition of The Original Amateur Hour

Ted Mack was born in Greeley, Colorado and named Edward McGuiness. When he became a bandleader, and his name would not fit on a theatre marquee, the theatre manager shortened his name to Ted Mack, and it stuck.

He was an accomplished clarinet and saxophone player and musical conductor. Mack was associated with well-known big bands such as Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Red Nichols, Jack Teagarden, and Ben Pollack.

Ted was the host of The Original Amateur Hour on television for 24 years. He joined the staff of Major Bowes' radio Amateur Hour in 1935 as a talent scout and one of Bowes' first assistants. On Bowes' death in 1946, Mack took over as host and fronted the show on TV in 1948 on the Dumont network.

The show lasted until 1970 when Ted and his producers pulled it off the air. It was estimated that over 1,000,000 aspirants auditioned for the show during its long tenure from WHN radio to all three major TV networks.

Like his mentor, Major Bowes, Ted Mack also died on the eve of his 72nd birthday on July 14, 1976.

Lloyd Marx

Lloyd Marx — Partner, Director and Musical Conductor for The Original Amateur Hour

Lloyd Marx was a partner, director, and musical conductor for The Original Amateur Hour from the time it began with Major Bowes at New York's Capitol Theatre in 1935 and on through its TV days with Ted Mack.

In addition, Mr. Marx was a staff conductor for CBS for 11 years. He was a founding member of the New York chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and a member of The American Federation of Musicians, The Directors Guild of America,
and ASCAP.

He was also the musical conductor for the annual Clio Awards, The New York and International Emmy Awards, and the DGA Awards. He passed away on May 26, 1988.

Lou Graham

Lou Graham — Executive Producer of The Original Amateur Hour

Louis Graham, also known as Lou Goldberg, was with Major Bowes and Ted Mack from the very inception of The Original Amateur Hour.

Prior to his Amateur Hour affiliation, Graham was responsible for publicity and promotion for the Publix, Loews, Paramount, Criterion, Rialto, and Warner theatre chains.

It was Graham who convinced Bowes to begin a national troupe of "Amateurs On Tour" comprising winning acts from The Original Amateur Hour. After Bowes died, Graham brought the series to television with Ted Mack as host. He ran the show until it went off the air in 1970.

Graham wrote a number of novels and has a world-famous collection of music boxes and player pianos that toured the country in a fleet of trucks for many years. Upon his death in 1983, Graham left the rights to The Original Amateur Hour to his partner, Lloyd Marx, who in turn ultimately left the rights to the current holder, Albert Fisher.

Copyright © Fisher Television Productions