Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


Before there was American Idol, before there was something called a Ryan Seacrest, and even before Ted Mack, there was Major Edward Bowes, whose Original Amateur Hour ruled the radio airwaves from 1934 until bowes' death in 1946.  At that point, Bowes' assistant, Ted Mack, took over the hosting duties as the program touted it was "produced by the Major Bowes staff."  The program soon shifted over to the fledgling medium of television and Ted Mack's name eventually replaced that of Bowes.

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:

Frank Sinatra:

Teresa Brewer:

Maria Callas:

Beverly Sills:

Deanna Durbin:

And, just see what Major Bowes hath wrought, here's a 7-year-old Gladys Knight from the Ted Mack Amateur Hour:

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