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Lawrence Welk

Lawrence Welk

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Also Known As: Died: May 17, 1992
Born: March 11, 1903 Cause of Death: pneumonia
Birth Place: Strasburg, North Dakota, USA Profession: bandleader, accordionist, TV host

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Genial American bandleader whose brand of "Champagne Music" lilted weekly across American TV airwaves for nearly three decades. Welk left home at age 21 to begin his career as an itinerant musician. He eventually formed his own "Biggest Little Band in America" and achieved success on the radio in the late 1930s with his band's bright, danceable renditions of popular songs. The label "Champagne Music" reportedly stuck after call-in listeners likened his music to the sipping of champagne. In the early 50s Welk and his band began performing on a local LA TV station, and viewer response was such that his program--considered hopelessly schmaltzy even in its prime--eventually went nationwide courtesy of ABC. Welk's Germanic accent (his parents were from Alsace-Lorraine) became a favorite of impersonators everywhere, his "Wunnerful, wunnerful" and "Ah-one an' ah-two" all but entering the American idiom. By the early 70s, Welk's unchanging format, replete with black tap dancer, middle-aged "Champagne Lady" vocalist and maidenly female singing trios, seemed even more out of touch, and ABC cancelled the show in 1971. Welk, however, had the last laugh, earning more money during the next 11 years of syndication...

Genial American bandleader whose brand of "Champagne Music" lilted weekly across American TV airwaves for nearly three decades.

Welk left home at age 21 to begin his career as an itinerant musician. He eventually formed his own "Biggest Little Band in America" and achieved success on the radio in the late 1930s with his band's bright, danceable renditions of popular songs. The label "Champagne Music" reportedly stuck after call-in listeners likened his music to the sipping of champagne.

In the early 50s Welk and his band began performing on a local LA TV station, and viewer response was such that his program--considered hopelessly schmaltzy even in its prime--eventually went nationwide courtesy of ABC. Welk's Germanic accent (his parents were from Alsace-Lorraine) became a favorite of impersonators everywhere, his "Wunnerful, wunnerful" and "Ah-one an' ah-two" all but entering the American idiom.

By the early 70s, Welk's unchanging format, replete with black tap dancer, middle-aged "Champagne Lady" vocalist and maidenly female singing trios, seemed even more out of touch, and ABC cancelled the show in 1971. Welk, however, had the last laugh, earning more money during the next 11 years of syndication than he ever did during his first 16 with ABC. If anything, a rapidly graying working-class America eager for nostalgic escapism embraced their keeper of the flame more warmly than ever before. The affable merrymaker continued waving his baton on TV and later on tour well into his eighties.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1924:
Left home to begin career as a traveling musician (date approximate)
1951:
Booked to perform at the Aragon Ballroom in Los Angeles; performance also broadcast on local TV station KTLA
1953:
"The Lawrence Welk Show" picked up from KTLA as a summer replacement by ABC
1955:
Nationwide premiere of "The Lawrence Welk Show"
1971:
Series cancelled by ABC but immediately picked up by syndication
1982:
Last of 1,542 broadcasts of "The Lawrence Welk Show" given on Feb. 25
1989:
Made last appearance on tour with his orchestra
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

"Good night/Sleep tight/And pleasant dreams to you/Here's a wish/And a hope/That all your dreams come true/And so till we meet again/Adios/Au revoir/Auf weidersehn/Good night!" --lyrics to the closing song of "The Lawrence Welk Show"

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Fern Welk. Married in 1931; survived him.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Ludwig Welk.
mother:
Christina Welk.
son:
Lawrence Welk Jr.
daughter:
Shirley Jean Welk.
daughter:
Donna Lee Welk.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Wunnerful, Wunnerful"

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