"Lawrence Welk Show" star dies at 87
BY RITA SHERROW World Television Editor
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Norma Zimmer, internationally known as the Champagne Lady on “The Lawrence Welk Show,” died Tuesday at her home in Brea, Calif. She was 87.
Zimmer, a 5-foot-2-inch blonde, was a featured soloist on the weekly “The Lawrence Welk Show” on commercial TV from 1960 to 1982. The series moved to Public Television in 1987 and continues to air on 276 PBS stations, including at 7 p.m. Saturdays and 5 p.m. Sundays on KOED, channel 11 in Tulsa.
The performer started in The Girl Friends Quartet, which sang with stars including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Nat King Cole and more. Her group sang on Crosby’s “White Christmas” album and she appeared alongside the actor in the 1950 film “Mr. Music.” She was also the voice of White Rose in the 1951 animated Disney film “Alice in Wonderland.”
According to press information, she often toured with her friend the Rev. Billy Graham on his evangelistic tours and was a guest soloist at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif.
She was born July 13, 1923 in Larson, Idaho and was reared in Seattle. She wed builder/property developer Randy Zimmer in 1944 and they were married 64 years until his death in 2008. They have two sons and three grandchildren.
“The Lawrence Welk Show” holds the record as the “longest-running, musical-variety weekly series on national television.” It premiered on KTLA in Los Angeles in 1950, then moved to ABC where it aired from 1955 to 1971.
In 1971, Lawrence Welk took it into syndication until 1982 when he retired. In 1987, the show was picked up by the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority. It celebrates its 25th year on public TV starting in September.
Funeral arrangements for Zimmer are pending, according to Susie Dowdy, national publicist for “The Lawrence Welk Show.”