He was born Edmund Dantes Urick in Malden, Massachusetts, and along with his three brothers, Joe (born May 3, 1921), Gene (born February 13, 1923), and Vic (May 20, 1925-January 23, 1978) excelled in athletics as a child. The brothers also liked to sing, and formed a quartet, "The Urick Brothers," which sang in many clubs in the Boston area. When they wanted to go to New York, the playwright Abe Burroughs suggested the name The Ames Brothers, and under that name the group had many hits in the 1950s.
Ed left the group to pursue his own career, studying acting at the Herbert Berghoff School, and privately with Tamara Doykharhanova, Lee Strasberg, and Milton Katselas. His first starring role was in an Off-Broadway production of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," going on to starring performances in "The Fantasticks" and "Carnival." Finally he had his biggest hit as a stage actor, in the play "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."
Talent scouts at 20th Century Fox saw Ed in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and invited him to co-star in a television series, "Daniel Boone." During his five seasons on this program, he returned to singing, making such hit recordings as