Zimmer in 1961.
|Birth name||Norma Larsen|
July 13, 1923|
Larson, Idaho, U.S.
|Died||May 10, 2011
Brea, California, U.S.
Norma Zimmer (July 13, 1923 – May 10, 2011) was a vocalist, best remembered for her twenty-two-year tenure as Lawrence Welk's "Champagne Lady" on The Lawrence Welk Show, and for her love of traditional Christian music.
Born Norma Larsen on a dairy farm in Shoshone County, Idaho, she grew up in Seattle, Washington after her father moved the family west. Zimmer was singing in a church choir when a guest artist suggested she travel to Los Angeles, California and audition for a musical group. When she turned eighteen, she did just that, singing with a succession of top vocal groups, including the Norman Luboff Choir and the Ken Darby Singers, among others. She appeared on most of the popular television variety shows during the 1950s. She landed a small singing part in the Bing Crosby movie Mr. Music (1950), and provided the singing voice for the White Rose in the Disney film Alice in Wonderland (1951). She worked as a studio singer and performed on Welk's 1956 Thanksgiving album.
Zimmer sang with a quartet called The Girlfriends along with Betty Allan and others. They sang backup for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como, and others. Their group sang backup for the famous Bing Crosby version of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas". In 1959, the previous Champagne Lady Alice Lon left the show due to monetary and scheduling disagreements. Because of protests, Welk tried (and failed) to get Lon back. After a year of the show's trying out several different singers, Zimmer officially joined the Welk show as his Champagne Lady on New Year's Eve, 1960. Zimmer stayed on the show and traveled with Welk and the band on personal appearances for three years.
As her two sons were growing up, she decided to leave show business to raise her children. Welk told her it was all right for her to quit the road tours, but he asked her to stay on the television show until he could find another singer. Each week, a new girl came on as a possible replacement, but Welk kept asking Zimmer to come back the following week. That went on for twenty years. As the show's Champagne Lady, Zimmer sang one solo and often a duet (usually with Jimmy Roberts); she frequently danced with Welk at the end of the show.
Zimmer died at her home in Brea, California at the age of 87. She was survived by her two sons, Ron and Mark, as well as three grandchildren, from her 1944 marriage to Randy Zimmer.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Norma Zimmer.|
- Norma Zimmer at AllMusic
- "Norma Zimmer on The Lawrence Welk Show (1962)" on YouTube
- Norma Zimmer discography at Discogs
- Norma Zimmer at the Internet Movie Database
- Norma Zimmer at Find a Grave