Edward Bowes was born on June 14, 1874 in San Francisco. He ran a successful real estate business that was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. He then headed to New York where he found show business to be lucrative and began composing, arranging, and conducting music, as well as producing Broadway shows. He had hosted some amateur nights in the past and in 1934 He brought the concept to New York's station WHN in 1934 and a juggernaut was born. He insisted that he be addressed as "Major," a title that seemed to fit his brusk and overbearing style. Whether he actually held that rank in active-duty service in World War I or was given that rank in the Reserves is in question.
Over the years, Bowes introduced a few major talents among the vast majority who went nowhere. Among those now well-known:
And, just see what Major Bowes hath wrought, here's a 7-year-old Gladys Knight from the Ted Mack Amateur Hour: