Lawrence Welk Spent Final Years with Spouse of 61 Years at ‘Champagne Towers’ & Was ‘In Management’ of His Co-stars


Lawrence Welk was solely curious about one lady whereas he lived, and she or he remained by his aspect until his demise. He had distinctive relationships along with his co-stars behind the scenes and even turned his haters into followers — listed below are particulars on the life he lived.

Lawrence Welk discovered love earlier than fame discovered him, a sequence that got here in useful as a result of it meant his wife was there to maintain him grounded at the same time as his stardom grew.

The proficient musician was married to Fern Renner for greater than six a long time till his demise. She was born August 26, 1903, and died February 13, 2002, and the couple had three youngsters collectively. 

[Left] American accordionist, bandleader and tv presenter Lawrence Welk (1903 – 1992), circa 1960. (; [Right] Image of performers on the Lawrence Welk Present; circa 1970; New York | Supply: Getty Photos

Lawrence was born the sixth of eight youngsters in Strasburg, North Dakota, and he dreamed of constructing a residing as a musician. That is why he petitioned his father, a German-Russian immigrant, to purchase him an accordion.

It could price $400, however Lawrence had promised to pay it again by engaged on the household farm till he clocked 21. After that, he left his house to discover a method for himself. 

US musician and band chief, Lawrence Welk,enjoying the accordion with sisters Dianne Lennon (left) and Janet Lennon, each of the ‘Lennon Sisters’, singing beside him, circa 1955 | Supply: Getty Photos

Talking about him, his grandson Lawrence Welk III stated: “He left the farm with the garments on his again and an accordion, with no cash, and he did not converse English. He was the American dream.”

He labored exhausting, and by 1951, Lawrence had change into a family identify because the host of his TV selection present. Regardless of that, Lawrence stayed humble and happy with his beginnings. 


Between his present and his quite a few appearances as a visitor on Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Present,” Lawrence regarded like “unintentionally humorous rube.” Nonetheless, it was all a ruse as a result of he turned out to be one of many best showmen.

Luckily, his fame by no means went to his head as a result of he had a stable verify and steadiness system along with his wife. She was consistently monitoring him, and when she noticed that he was beginning to get carried away, she would floor him. 

Lawrence Welk, US musician and band chief, smiling whereas posing with an accordian, circa 1955 | Supply:Getty Photos

Renner, who labored as a nurse, had been the anchor of their household. She cared about everybody, and paying explicit consideration to her hubby was not troublesome for her to do.

Because of her, he was capable of hold his head straight, and his profession was all of the extra profitable. His grandson’s ex-wife, Tanya, described him as a “very nice man” who by no means missed going to church earlier than heading to work.

He shared three youngsters, Shirley, Larry, and Donna, along with his wife. Lawrence by no means joked along with his duty as a mother or father, and he was there for a lot of of his youngsters’s main milestones. The singer was the one who walked his daughter Donna Welk down the aisle when she received married to James Mack. 

Studio portrait of Lawrence Welk, circa 1941 | Supply: Getty Photos


Armed with an accordion courtesy of his father, Lawrence had set out at 21 to make a residing for himself, and he did.

His crew members knew that one thing was very incorrect when he began hitting his baton on his leg.

Lawrence and the band he put collectively dominated TV for greater than three a long time and created a loyal fan base who regarded ahead to their performances. 


Lawrence’s recipe for achievement was to maintain issues easy and traditional; rise up there and provides the individuals what they wish to hear in probably the most easy preparations.

He most well-liked performances to not exceed three minutes in case somebody didn’t take pleasure in a selected tune. He simply wished to play issues secure, which made all of it predictable but healthful.

Norma Zimmer, Lawrence Welk showing on ‘The Lawrence Welk Present’ | Supply: Getty Photos

Regardless of the predictability, his viewers liked him and have been usually impatient to have their weekly style of Lawrence’s expertise galvanized by a succession of Champagne Women, accordionists, and proficient instrumentalists.

Lawrence, his orchestra, and performers, together with Norma Zimmer and the Lennon Sisters, as soon as performed on the new Baltimore Civic Heart on March 31, 1963, and have been swamped on the airport by followers.

That day, the crew’s efficiency was a sellout, raking in additional than $50,000, the most important gross in his historical past. After a while, dissent entered Lawrence’s band as they received pissed off by his strategies, which required him to have complete management over the music content material and even costume choice.

Studio portrait of Lawrence Welk, circa 1950 | Supply: Getty Photos

Many like Alice Lon and the Lennon Sisters give up after they could not take it anymore. Lon, Lawrence’s “Champagne Girl,” was in a feud with him in 1959 as a result of she wished extra range on her musical menu.

The 2 additionally had many disagreements over the size of her apparel, which stored inching upwards in concert events to Lawrence’s chagrin. Finally, he fired her, however after protest from his followers, he tried to rent her again, however she wasn’t .

Lawrence Welk dancing with an unidentified lady, circa 1960 | Supply: Getty Photos

The Lennon Sisters wished to do extra fashionable performances, however Lawrence was bent on his methods and wished to play issues secure. To his dismay, they left his band in 1968 and by no means returned. Different crew members left him due to financial points. He had been a miser when it got here to wages.

They labored for ten years on a bunch scale for $110 per week, after which it was elevated to $210. The opposite performers tried to get it to go increased, however Lawrence wouldn’t budge, costing him his employees.

Lawrence Welk acting on ‘The Lawrence Welk Present’, circa 1968 | Supply: Getty Photos

The proficient showman was additionally very strict along with his Catholic beliefs — so strict that he as soon as fired a person who determined to marry one other lady after his divorce.

After all, he gave him his job again after others suggested that he let the person run his romantic affairs whereas he remained in control of his musical performances.

Lawrence was recognized to be very cool-tempered and was stated by no means to lose management. Nevertheless, his crew members knew that one thing was very incorrect when he began hitting his baton on his leg. 

Lawrence Welk attends Seventh Annual Dinah Shore Winner Circle Golf Championship on March 29, 1978 on the Mission Hills Nation Membership in Rancho Mirage, California | Supply: Getty Photos


Lawrence handed away from pneumonia, however his spokesperson, Bernice McGeehan, revealed that household surrounded him and that it occurred at his Santa Monica house on a Sunday night at 89. Within the years earlier than his dying, the performer had retired and spent high quality time along with his longtime wife.

Most of that point was spent primarily at their “Champagne Towers” in Santa Monica. The pair additionally frequented their second house close to Escondido, the place he remodeled yet one more small trailer park into an upscale cell house park and trip resort. 

Banlender Lawrence Welk autographs his e book Wunnerful; Wunnerful at Sherway Gardens, Canada on September 24, 1971 | Supply: Getty Photos

Lawrence was fortunate sufficient to witness the start of his youngsters, their youngsters, and even one great-grandchild earlier than his dying, and regardless that he died a long time in the past, his affect has by no means been forgotten. 

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