49 Facts About Lawrence Welk


Lawrence Welk was an American accordionist, bandleader, and television impresario, who hosted the television program The Lawrence Welk Show from 1951 to 1982.

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Lawrence Welk's style came to be known to his large audience of radio, television, and live-performance fans as "champagne music".

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Lawrence Welk was born in the German-speaking community of Strasburg, North Dakota.

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Lawrence Welk was sixth of the eight children of Ludwig and Christiana Welk, Roman Catholic ethnic Germans who emigrated in 1892 from Odessa, Russian Empire (now Ukraine).

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Lawrence Welk was a first cousin, once removed, of former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer.

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Lawrence Welk left school during fourth grade to work full-time on the family farm.

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Lawrence Welk decided on a career in music and persuaded his father to buy a mail-order accordion for $400 He promised his father that he would work on the farm until he was 21, in repayment for the accordion.

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Lawrence Welk did not learn to speak English until he was twenty-one and never felt comfortable speaking it in public.

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Lawrence Welk became an iconic figure in the German-Russian community of the northern Great Plains—his success story personified the American dream.

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Lawrence Welk led big bands in North Dakota and eastern South Dakota, including the Hotsy Totsy Boys and the Honolulu Fruit Gum Orchestra.

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Lawrence Welk's band was the station band for the popular radio programming WNAX in Yankton, South Dakota.

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The Lawrence Welk Orchestra scored an immediate success and began a daily radio show, which lasted from 1927 to 1936.

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Lawrence Welk described his band's sound, saying, "We still play music with the champagne style, which means light and rhythmic.

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Lawrence Welk's orchestra performed frequently at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City during the late 1940s.

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In 1944 and 1945, Lawrence Welk led his orchestra in 10 "Soundies", three-minute movie musicals considered to be the early pioneers of music videos.

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Lawrence Welk collaborated with Western artist Red Foley to record a version of Spade Cooley's "Shame on You" in 1945.

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Lawrence Welk signed with Decca Records in 1941, then recorded for Mercury Records and Coral Records for short periods of time before moving to Dot Records in 1959.

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In 1967, Lawrence Welk left Dot Records and joined its former executive Randy Wood in creating Ranwood Records.

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Lawrence Welk bought back all his masters from Dot and Coral, and Ranwood became the outlet for all of Lawrence Welk's many artists.

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Lawrence Welk's estate licensed the Ranwood catalogue to Concord Music Group for 10 years.

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Befitting the target audience, the type of music on The Lawrence Welk Show was conservative, concentrating on popular music standards, show tunes, polkas, and novelty songs, delivered in a smooth, calm, good-humored easy-listening style and "family-oriented" manner.

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Lawrence Welk was noted for spotlighting individual members of his band.

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Lawrence Welk had a number of instrumental hits, including a cover of the song "Yellow Bird".

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Lawrence Welk's highest charting record was "Calcutta", written by Heino Gaze, which achieved hit status in 1961.

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Lawrence Welk himself was indifferent to the tune, but his musical director, George Cates, said that if Lawrence Welk did not wish to record the song, he would.

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Lawrence Welk replied, "Well, if it's good enough for you, George, I guess it's good enough for me.

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Lawrence Welk told the audience that he would not tolerate such "cheesecake" performances on his show; he later tried unsuccessfully to rehire the singer after fan mail indicated overwhelmingly that viewers opposed her dismissal.

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Lawrence Welk then had a series of short-term "Champagne Ladies" before Norma Zimmer filled that spot on a permanent basis.

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In fact, Lawrence Welk headlined two weekly prime-time shows on ABC for three years.

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Lawrence Welk thanked ABC and the sponsors at the end of the last network show.

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The Lawrence Welk Show continued on as a first-run syndicated program shown on 250 stations across the country until the final original show was produced in 1982, when Welk decided to retire.

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Lawrence Welk was married for 61 years, until his death in 1992, to Fern Renner, with whom he had three children.

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Lawrence Welk was the general partner in a commercial real estate development at 100 Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica, California.

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Lawrence Welk built the adjacent 11-story Wilshire Palisades office building at 1299 Ocean Avenue at Arizona Street.

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Lawrence Welk enjoyed playing golf, which he first took up in the late 1950s, and was often a regular at many celebrity pro-am tournaments, such as the Bob Hope Desert Classic.

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Devout Roman Catholic, Lawrence Welk was a daily communicant, as corroborated by numerous biographies, by his autobiography and by his family and his many staff, friends and associates throughout the years.

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Lawrence Welk was a noted member of The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

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Lawrence Welk starred in and produced a pair of Christmas specials in 1984 and 1985.

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Lawrence Welk died of pneumonia on May 17, 1992, at age 89, in his Santa Monica apartment, surrounded by his family.

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Lawrence Welk was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, in Culver City, California.

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In 1961, Lawrence Welk was inducted as a charter member of the Rough Rider Award from his native North Dakota.

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Lawrence Welk later served as the Grand Marshal for the Rose Bowl's Tournament of Roses parade in 1972.

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Lawrence Welk received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement in 1980.

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In 1994, Lawrence Welk was inducted into the International Polka Music Hall of Fame.

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Lawrence Welk has a star for recording on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 6613½ Hollywood Boulevard.

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Lawrence Welk has a second star at 1601 Vine Street for television.

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In 2007, Lawrence Welk was a charter member of the Gennett Records Walk of Fame in Richmond, Indiana.

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Lawrence Welk's band continues to appear in a dedicated theater in Branson, Missouri.

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Resort community developed by Lawrence Welk and promoted heavily by him on the show is named for him.

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