The name of the featured female vocalist on the musical program THE LAWRENCE SHOW/ABC/SYN/1955-82 that featured “Champagne Music” and a delicate trail of champagne-like bubbles rising from behind the bandstand where his musician’s played. Accompanying this elegant backdrop was the “Champagne Lady.”
Singer Alice Lon was the first woman to wear that crown beginning “live” on a coast-to-coast broadcast from the ABC Hollywood Studios on July 2, 1955.
Unfortunately, Welk’s ultra-conservative moral beliefs were responsible for the removal of Alice Lon from the program in July 1959. Welk’s excuse? Alice Lon showed too much knee when she crossed her legs during the telecast. “Cheesecake does not fit our show,” he remarked.
Following his decision, thousands of angry letters from faithful viewers flooded Welk’s office indicating that his decision was not so “wunnerful.” He tried to get Alice Lon to reconsider and return to the show, but she never did.
Despite the controversy, Welk remarked “She was one of the nicest girls who had ever sung with our orchestra.” He kept in contact with Alice Lon until her death from cancer in 1981.
After two years of guest fill-ins, (Lois Best, Joan Mowery, Helen Ramsey, Roberta Linn) soprano Norma Zimmer became the new “Champagne Lady” who stayed with the program until its last telecast on February 24, 1982.
Born on July 13, 1923 in Larson, Idaho, singer Norma Zimmer died on May 10, 2011 (age 87) in Brea, California.
Note: The program’s theme songs were “Bubbles in the Wine” (1955-70) by Lawrence Welk, Frank Loesser and Bob Calame and “Champagne Fanfare” (1971-82) by George Cates.
See also – “America’s Sweethearts of Song”