Published November 07 2010
Lawrence Welk bioLawrence Welk was born May 11, 1903, in Strasburg, N.D., about a 70-mile drive southeast from Bismarck.
The sixth of eight children, his parents were part of the wave of Germans from Russia who moved to the state. Though he started speaking English in school, he maintained an accent that dictated his trademark lines, “A-one, an a-two” and “Wunnerful. Wunnerful.”
Welk left the family farm at 21 to tour with bands like the Hotsy Totsy Boys. Later, his own traveling bands developed strong followings in Milwaukee and Chicago and eventually New York.
In 1951, Welk moved to Los Angeles and started broadcasting his show on a local station. ABC picked up the program four years later and carried it until 1971.
In 1961, he was one of the first two recipients of North Dakota’s Rough Rider Award. The other was actress Dorothy Stickney.
Welk continued with the show after ABC dropped it and syndicated it to over 200 stations nationwide until retiring in 1982.
He died May 17, 1992, in Santa Monica, Calif., at age 89.