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Ted Mack (February 12, 1904, Greeley, Colorado - July 12, 1976, North Tarrytown, New York), born William Edward Maguiness, was the host of Ted Mack and the Original Amateur Hour on radio and television.

In the late 1920s clarinetist Mack formed a dance band, under his real name. A nightclub owner didn't like how "Edward Maguiness" looked on his marquee, so he impulsively changed the bandleader's name to the shorter and snappier "Ted Mack." The name stuck.

The Original Amateur Hour began on radio in 1934 as Major Bowes' Amateur Hour, and ran until 1946 when Major Bowes, the creator, died. Mack, a talent scout who had directed the show under Bowes, revived it in 1948 for ABC Radio and the DuMont Television Network.

It lasted on radio until 1952 and until 1970 on television, where it ran on all four major networks, ending as a Sunday afternoon CBS staple. A success in the early days of television, the program set the stage for numerous programs seeking talented stars, from The Gong Show to Star Search to American Idol to America's Got Talent.

Auditions for the show were generally held in New York's Radio City Music Hall. Those who passed the initial screening were invited to compete on the program, featuring amateurs whose performance were judged by viewers, voting via letters and phone calls. Contestants who won three times earned cash prizes, scholarships or participation in a traveling stage show associated with the program.

Winners who went on to show business careers included singers Gladys Knight, Ann-Margret, Pat Boone, Raul Julia, Teresa Brewer, Irene Cara, The Rock and Roll Trio and Los Concertinos from Puerto Rico.

Ted Mack and producer Lewis Graham (the former Lou Goldberg) programmed something for everybody. A single broadcast featured an opera singer, a trumpet sextet, a dulcimer player, a kiddie dance troupe, a young vocalist, a rhythm-and-blues combo, a barbershop quartet and mother-and-son Irish step dancers. In the early days of the TV show Mack was introduced as "the nicest guy in show business," which seems to have been true, judging from surviving episodes of the show. Mack always had encouraging words for the performers, and a calming effect on anxious contestants. Mack's relaxed demeanor on camera belied a razor-sharp mind that coped with the problems of live television and amateur talent. He kept the show running briskly -- sometimes too briskly, when he would find himself having to fill two or three minutes of unscheduled air time at the end. Always professional, Mack would effortlessly ad-lib a public service announcement and thank viewers for their continued support.

At home

Mack and his wife, Ellen Margarite, lived with their dog Bonnie in Irvington, New York. They had no children but fostered children from Catholic charities at their home.

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