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Born and raised in Michigan City, Indiana; Cathcart was best known as a member of the Lawrence Welk Show, in which he appeared on the Maestro's television program from 1962 to 1968. Before that, he played with bands led by Ray Noble and Ben Pollack and had stints with Bob Crosby and Alvino Rey. He also worked as a studio musician for MGM Studios from 1946 to 1949.
Cathcart was also close friends with actor/producer Jack Webb, whom he met while they both served in World War II. He later provided the music on Webb's radio and television series Dragnet, and made his acting debut in the movie version as well. He also appeared in Webb's other film Pete Kelly's Blues in which he played a cornet player.
He joined the Welk orchestra in 1962 as a trumpet player, and also sang with the Curt Ramsey Quintet as well. In 1964, he married Peggy Lennon of the Lennon Sisters, and would have six children along with the three he had from his first marriage.
After leaving Welk, Cathcart continued performing with several other Dixieland Jazz bands until his death from cancer in 1993, aged 69.