‘Champagne Lady’ Norma Zimmer dies at 87

May 12, 2011

Norma Zimmer, the “Champagne Lady” of TV’s “The Lawrence Welk Show” and a studio singer who worked with Frank Sinatra and other pop stars, died of undisclosed causes May 10 at her home in Brea, Calif. She was 87.

Mrs. Zimmer performed on Welk’s network and later syndicated show from 1960 to 1982 as the “Champagne Lady,” the title Welk traditionally gave to his orchestra’s lead female singer.

Mrs. Zimmer sang solos, duets with Jimmy Roberts and waltzed with Welk to the strains of his effervescent dance tunes, tagged “champagne music.”

She appeared on the orchestra’s public TV specials, which have aired, along with repeats of the series, since 1987. Welk, who stopped performing in 1989, died in 1992.

Norma Larsen was born in July 1923 in Larson, Idaho, and grew up in Seattle. The petite blonde sang with the Girlfriends, a quartet that performed with Sinatra, Dean Martin and Bing Crosby, including on Crosby’s famed recording of “White Christmas.”

Mrs. Zimmer made several film and TV appearances, including one with Crosby in the 1950 film “Mr. Music” and in an episode of “I Love Lucy,” and voiced the White Rose in the 1951 Disney film “Alice in Wonderland.”

Her husband, businessman Randy Zimmer, died in 2008. Survivors include two sons.

— Associated Press

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