Myron Floren, 85, an accordion player who entertained generations of television viewers on "The Lawrence Welk Show," died July 23 of cancer at his home in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.
Dubbed "The Happy Norwegian" for his perpetual grin, Mr. Floren joined Welk's orchestra on the road in 1950. "The Lawrence Welk Show," with its bouncing, effervescent music, began its 27-year national run on Saturday nights in 1955 and was a favorite of Middle America. The show continues to be seen in syndication by more than 3 million television viewers a week.
After the show ceased production in 1982, Mr. Floren continued to travel 150,000 miles a year, playing special engagements and making appearances with other Welk show performers. He performed until a few months ago.
The son of a grain farmer, Mr. Floren was born in Webster, S.D., and was drawn to music as a child.
"All the neighboring families would get together on Saturday nights, roll back the rugs and do a little dancing," he recalled in a 1997 interview with the Los Angeles Times. "The thing that intrigued me was this one neighbor who played a little button-box accordion. He played Scandinavian and German waltzes and polkas, and I just sat there watching him . . . completely fascinated."
His father bought him his first accordion a year later. By age 8, the self-taught Mr. Floren was entertaining at the county fair.
In 1950, while celebrating his wife's birthday at a St. Louis ballroom where the Welk orchestra was playing, Welk invited Mr. Floren on stage to play. The crowd was so enthusiastic that Welk offered him a job at intermission.
Mr. Floren served as assistant conductor and manager of Welk's orchestra for many years.
Survivors include his wife; five daughters; and seven grandchildren.