Fans of “The Lawrence Welk Show” are mourning the death of Norma Zimmer, who died yesterday at the age of 87. Mrs. Zimmer was the show’s longest-running “Champagne Lady”, a term invented by Welk for the lead singer of his orchestra. Mrs. Zimmer fronted the Lawrence Welk Orchestra from 1960 to 1982.
I have many Welk recordings and of all the Christmas albums I own, I especially love to hear Mrs. Zimmer’s soprano on “Silver Bells”. Mrs. Zimmer always appeared on PBS Welk reunion shows and was often interviewed in the remaining ten minutes after the weekly PBS “Lawrence Welk Show” reruns.
It always makes me smile when I hear Welk introduce his Champagne Lady. Welk had a strong North Dakota-German accent, and although Mrs. Zimmer had a German married surname, Welk always introduced her as “Champagne Lady Narma Simmer”. Anyone who says her name like that captures the spirit of Lawrence Welk perfectly.
Norma Zimmer was indeed a classy, elegant lady.