|Although she's actually known as Lawrence Welk's sixth Champagne Lady, viewers remember her as the first one to appear on national television.
Alice Lon became a national celebrity when the Welk Show debuted on ABC that fateful Saturday night, July 2, 1955; and her Texas smile, beauty, talent and petticoats made her an icon.
Born in Cooper County, Texas on November 23, 1926 in the town of Kilgore; through the guidance of her musical parents, Alice began singing when she was six, and by the time she was ten, she had her own radio show on station KOAL in Shreveport, Louisiana. When she later attended Kilgore Junior College, she took up piano and also found time to become one of the original Kilgore Rangerettes, becoming one of the famous marching girls that traveled all over the country. Alice also toured throughout Texas peforming at theaters, veterans' camps, hospitals and benefits and became a member of the Interstate Theater in Dallas, where she starred on their regular radio program. In 1945, she was also a runner-up in a beauty pageant for the title of 'Miss Texas'.
She married her first husband, Bob Waterman, who was a football player from Southern Methodist University in 1946, they would later have three sons. During this time, she was hired as a vocalist for Don McNeil's syndicated radio program, "The Breakfast Club".
Her opportunity with Welk came in 1953 when the Maestro was looking for a new Champagne Lady when Roberta Linn left, Alice auditoned for and won the role of the lifetime. She appeared on Welk's television program shown on KTLA and two years later, was ready for prime time when ABC aired the show. During her tenure, she was the only female vocalist until the Lennon Sisters arrived that December, she sang solos and appeared with Dick Dale as a duo, and displayed her comedic chops in skits with Rocky Rockwell, plus also appeared with Jimmy Roberts, Larry Hooper and Aladdin in the closing number, "Goodnight Ladies".
Oh, and there are those petticoats she wore, they became a popular national symbol among the show's female fans.
In 1959, Alice left the show and although the popular legend was that the Maestro was not pleased she showed some knee during one of her numbers, known as the "Cheesecake" incident. Many reasons behind her departure was the choice of music she wanted to use, which did not go well with Lawrence, who preferred the 'Champagne' style of music that the fans clamored for, plus a desire for more money....since all music makers made union scale and a desire to strike out on her own, like many perfomers who were a part of a succesful band and organization.
After leaving, she tried out as a solo act....in January 1962, she remarried to a gentleman named George Bowlings and settled in Dallas where she ran a dress shop for a short while. In April 1981, Alice sadly lost her long battle with scleroderma, a form of skin cancer, at the way-too-young age of 54.
|THERE'S MORE LADIES!|
|LETS GO BACK HOME!|