"If they can't hum it after we play it, it's not for us."
I grew up hating Lawrence Welk. I think it was because my grandmother was living with us, and she loved it. No matter what was on television at the time we had to watch him. Had to. No choice. I dont regret it so much in retrospect, but at the time
This guy made "wunnerful, wunnerful," and "ah-one and ah-two" household expressions. I think his licence plate read A1NA2.
His parents were from Alsace-Lorraine, a region of present day France that once was part of Germany. His family then immigrated to Russia in 1878, to escape religious persecution. In 1892, they moved to the United States, and settled in Strasburg, North Dakota. Thats where Lawrence was born.
For an interesting story about Lawrences birthplace, and his lack of interest in it, go to this link - on a very cool website calledRoadside America.
When he turned 21, he left the family home, to try to make it as a musician. He worked without much success, for 25 years. In 1951 he appeared on a Los Angeles TV show, and became a hit. The Lawrence Welk Show ran on ABC from 1955 until 1972, when they dropped him. It was shot at the Hollywood Palladium.
After that, he signed up more than 250 independent television stations in the U.S and Canada, and kept his show on for 11 more years.
All in all, there were 1542 episodes, until its demise in 1982. After that, he did a few performances here and there, until he retired completely in 1989. He and his wife of 61 years, Fern, had one son, and two daughters.
Welk was ultra conservative, and made sure his shows reflected only the highest of moral standards. Take the Lennon Sisters (please). They were his big act for most of the initial run. They had a hit with, "The Lady in Blue Taught Me How To Pray." Nuff said.
He lived onOcean Avenue, in Santa Monica. His address was 1299 in a building called the Wilshire Palisades, nicknamed the Champagne Towers. Here is another shot of the building. His apartment/suite/floor (?) Was on the 8th floor.
In May of 1992, he had contracted pneumonia. He died from it on Sunday the 17th at 7:35pm, in his home. His family was at his side. Somebody said of the moment, "He was not in any pain; he just went to sleep." He was 89 years old.
He is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, in Culver City, Ca.
Trivia: His first band was called, "The Hotsy Totsy Boys."
More: He was very tight with a buck. Instead of tipping, he would hand out penknives, inscribed with his name.
When he died, he was the second richest man in show business. Bob Hope was the first. Waiting, waiting
Who could forget the humpy Bobby and Cissy, those oh so cute dancers on The Lawrence Welk Show. Didja know (of course you did) that Bobby used to be a Mouseketeer? If anyone encouraged us yungins to hold our banners high (high, high, high), it was good ol Bobby.
Interesting information sent in by Mark Langois -
Welk was a notorious tightwad who would only pay SCALE to his TV cast.
The Lennon's were paid scale as a "group" for years...until their Dad - Bill Lennon - fought to get them paid scale as 4 individual performers.
The family was tipped off by the CIA because the nutball would write
letters to LBJ complaining that he could not be with his true wife Peggy. He showed up several times at the Lennon's Santa Monica doorstep -- was
hauled off and put in nuthouse & escaped again & again, until that fateful day August 1969 when he blew their Dad away on
golf course & then shot himself in his car trunk -- filled with magazine clippings and
a final love note to Peggy.
Larry Welk Jr. also dug the Lennons out of retirement in 1990's to perform in the Branson MO "Champagne" theatre --- his profitable blue hair entertainment venture.
- Great information Mark. Thank you so much.
Findadeath.com friend Denise Duvall sends us this information:
"I was up in Escondido the other day, and happened to pass by the
Lawrence Welk Resort. The place has been around since the early 70's (I remember being dragged there by my Grandma) and has really grown.
Anyway, I had my camera with me, so I took some shots of the front
sign, main clubhouse (notice the tacky musical notes up in the background) and
the sign at the Texaco station at the corner. Sorry, I couldn't find a
In the lobby of the restaurant there was this weird thing. It was a large round drum type thing and there was a
mirror on top. On top of the mirror were Barbie and Ken dolls in
An anonymous friend of Findadeath.com sent in this pretty ditty:
What's the difference between the Lawrence Welk Orchestra and a moose?
My friend Harry sent in this addition to the
story. Thanks Harry!I wanted to add a little tidbit about Lawrence Welk in his
later years. Back in about 1987 when I was a journalism student at San Diego State, we had to interview a celeb for our feature writing class.
I was assigned Lawrence Welk, along with another student colleague.
Great stuff, Harry! Thank you so much.
First, let me say that you have a great
website. Very interesting stuff. I would like to tell you a quick brush with Mr.
Welk that I had some thirty years ago. I worked at a local department store
(Meier and Frank) in Portland, Oregon. I worked on a freight elevator hauling
freight from the dock. On occasion, celebrities would be brought in for book
signings. I hauled Carol Channing and Lawrence Welk. Ms. Channing didn't say a
thing or look at me and left no impression. I do remember all the big wigs of
the company lining up as if she would think they were important enough to stop
for as she walked by; they weren't (a great laugh). Anyway, I took Mr. Welk up
to the tenth floor and he had to wait in the elevator for about five minutes
till the room was set up. He was very friendly and spent the entire time talking
to me, ignoring his "staff" whom were also in the elevator. He asked
me about the Northwest and just general conversation, not at all what I would
expect from a celebrity. He was very friendly and polite. This has left a
lasting impression on me for years. I never watched his shows (still don't care
for the music), but I was impressed by this man. A real nice guy.