Renowned bandleader Lawrence Welk began his own variety series in 1955... and it has never stopped running. Each program was straightforward musical numbers from Welk's band (many of which had featured solos at one point or another), as well as vocal selections and dance numbers from the show's cast. Most of the introductions to the performances, read stiffy by Welk, were kept short. Many of the shows revolved around a certain theme (e.g., "The Music Man" or the Fourth of July), with appropriate songs and dance numbers. The most famous of the featured singers were the Lennon Sisters (Dianne, Janet, Kathy and Peggy), who were featured most every week for 13 years. At the end of each show, Welk would invite women from the audience on stage to dance with him as the theme, "Bubbles in the Wine" (and later, "Champagne Fanfare") played. The show enjoyed a 16-year network run on ABC, and later a succesful 11-year syndicated run. Just months after the original series ended, older shows (from ... Written by
Brian Rathjen <email@example.com>
Myron Floren filled for an absent Welk. The following week, Welk publicly thanked Floren for the fine job he did and made an off-hand comment about retirement. This led to a flood of letters from the public. Weeks later Welk brought up the topic and explained that it was a joking comment and assured the audience that he had no plans to retire simply because he loved what he was doing. See more »
This was the second longest-running musical variety program in the history of television and righteously so. It began on ABC-TV in the fall of 1955,under the title "The Dodge Musical Hour Starring Lawrence Welk",which at the time ABC was just a up and coming network which in turn his show became the steppingstone for the American Broadcasting Company's prime success which Lawrence Welk help start for that network! However,the earlier episodes of The Lawrence Welk Show were in classic black and white from 1955 until 1966. The show made the transition to color in the fall of 1966 and that same formula that Lawrence Welk had would remain from 1966 until 1971. However,his show would remain on ABC-TV for an astounding seventeen years on the air until its final episode in 1971. Lawrence Welk's musical variety show during its 17 year-run on network television is right up there with "Lassie",and "Murder,She Wrote",for the duration of its longitivity.
After ABC-TV cancelled "The Lawrence Welk Show" in the spring of 1971,the series found a new life when it was picked up for syndication where it remained for another eleven years on the air from 1971 until 1982. It all "The Lawrence Welk Show" was a Saturday night fixture in the homes of America for an astounding 27 years on television(The years on ABC-TV from 1955 until 1971,and in syndication from 1971 until 1982). After an astounding 27 years on television,"The Lawrence Welk Show" was picked up again in 1982,only this time around went from syndication programming to public television,where repeats of the show which include episodes from the mid-1960's and some of the 1970's and early 1980's have been seen since. About the show itself,this was a brilliant variety indeed that sent its viewers back to a time when variety shows were solid family entertainment and that is what you got with this show. Lawrence Welk was the quintessential band-leader who preserved big band music which at a period in American History reflected a taste to what Middle America was like at that time. It may have fallen out of favor,but lets face it,this was a show where good musicians and dancers were very professional,especially with some of Lawrence Welk's polka tunes and big musical numbers. However,the show did everything from classic American ballads,and other musical numbers from different countries. It maybe known for some of the tacky wardrobe of its day(see some of the episodes from the 1970's if you really what to find out)and outlandish musical numbers and watered-down dance routines. But in all solid family entertainment every Saturday night,and that is what you got with Lawrence Welk's musical variety program,which lasted three decades on television and to this day it is still being shown on public television stations across the country.
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