The Best Times - Jan. 17, 2013

Uploaded by WKNOPBS on 21.01.2013

>> Hardaway: On tonight's
edition of The Best Times we
visit with some of the most
popular stars from one of the
longest-running shows in
television history.
Join us for a conversation with
the stars of the Lawrence Welk
>> [instrumental music]
>> Hardaway: Funding for The
Best Times is provided by...
Since 1988 the H. W. Durham
Foundation has been focused on
aging issues -- providing grants
to programs like The Best Times
to enrich and improve the
quality of life for our older
The Best Times is the only
monthly news magazine
exclusively for the age 50 plus
Your copy is free at over 200
locations, with important
stories and news you don't want
to miss.
The Best Times is always the
Trezevant, a lifecare community,
a celebration of life.
The responsible decision for
your well-being now and in the
And being responsible has never
been such a hoot.
>> [instrumental music]
>> Hardaway: Hello, I'm Cris
Welcome to this edition of The
Best Times, a series that looks
at life after fifty.
When I was growing up Saturday
night television meant the
Lawrence Welk Show.
My parents and grandparents
never failed to tune in for some
champagne music.
The Lawrence Welk Show was a
staple on network TV and in
syndication for 27 years, making
it one of the longest-running
shows in television history.
And that run hasn't stopped yet
-- you can still tune in your
local PBS station on Saturday
night and hear that same
champagne music.
In past years the stars of the
Lawrence Welk Show have played
concerts at the Germantown
Performing Arts Center and I've
had the chance to talk with
Guy Hovis and Ralna English
became one of
the first husband and wife
singing duos on the Lawrence
Welk Show and one of the show's
most popular acts.
Let's meet Guy and Ralna.
>> [music]
>> Hardaway: It's Sunday
Guy Hovis and Ralna English are
rehearsing for their afternoon
concert here at GPAC.
Their voices blend together with
the ease of nearly forty years
performing and recording
It's a union, both as performers
and as husband and wife, that
started in a small nightclub in
Santa Monica called "The Horn'.
>> Guy: The Horn was the only
reason that I ever was able to
get anywhere because they
literally-they nurtured me.
I was able to watch performers
get on stage and see what you do
to entertain an audience.
>> Ralna: Yeah-Steve Martin was
there when we were there.
Jim Nabors was discovered as
Gomer Pyle when we were there.
And who else?
>> Guy: Vikki Carr started
Jack Jones-I mean, people would
come in and work on their act
like Carol Burnett and Jim
Nabors would come in and work on
their act.
>> Ralna: Judy Garland tried to
take him.
>> Guy: Wait a minute now.
Don't go there.
>> Hardaway: They met, fell in
love and got married.
But they didn't start performing
as a duo until 1969 when Ralna
was hired on the Lawrence Welk
>> (announcer from show) From
Hollywood, it's The Lawrence
Welk Show bringing you..
>> Ralna: I was just going on a
tour-a 17-day world tour right
after I joined the show.
>> Guy: You were doing the Welk
Show and I was touring with
So we didn't even see much of
each other for a year.
>> Ralna: Yeah but anyway, so I
said-"You know what?
"We've got to get him on this
And we've got to get you on this
And so I went around and asked
everybody if we could do a song
together on the Christmas Show.
Now, we don't have only the
We don't have husbands and
So I thought-"Hmm..I think I'll
just walk right in there to
Lawrence himself."
Because I loved him.
He really loved me.
And Guy came down.
I said-"Lawrence, can we do a
song for you that I really would
like to do on the Christmas
"Well, of course my curl.
"Come in here my curls."
And it was history after that.
You know we got more fan mail
than Lawrence himself.
He was adorable to me and I
loved him very much.
And we really got a long well.
We only had one little rift the
whole time I was there.
For the most part he was great
to me.
>> Guy: What I tell people is as
long as you understood that it
was Lawrence Welk's television
show, you had no problem.
But once you started thinking it
might be partly yours and you
should be having a little say-so
in what was on the show, you
might have a little problem.
But he loved Ralna.
I mean anytime we wanted to do
something on the show, just send
her in to see Lawrence.
But he just was totally
dedicated to entertaining
And all those years working
those one-nighters and playing
all over the mid-west.
I mean he learned what people
So once he got to television,
even though we had a few
discussions with some of the
producers who thought they might
know better than him, he always
said, you know, I'm going to say
what's on my show because I know
what the people like.
And he did.
And he loved what he did.
I mean you could see when he got
in front of that band.
He's just like a light came on.
>> Ralna: I always say he wasn't
in it for the money.
He wasn't in it for the fame.
He was in this business because
he loved it and that's the key.
That's the key to any job I
And if you love it, you're going
to do well.
And he did very well.
He's still going on.
He's been gone since 1992 and
we're the longest running weekly
show on television.
>> Guy: Lawrence-He only paid
you in scale to everybody that
was on that show.
That was just a rule.
I mean, that's just the way it
And we were kind of like a big
We all made the same amount of
But so to really make any money-
I mean, we could-
I don't even know if we could
have lived on what they were
paying us.
We had to go out on weekends and
put on public appearances.
So gosh, we'd usually wind up
working on that tv show on
Thursday afternoon.
We'd take an all-night flight
We'd work Friday, Saturday, and
Sunday and come back Sunday
night to go in Monday to work on
the TV show.
>> Ralna: Monday at 1:00.
>> Guy: Yeah, after about two
years of doing that, we must
have looked really tired.
One of Lawrence's three week
one-nighters-we'd go on three of
those a year.
Anyhow, he came up and sat down
by us on an airplane and
said-"You look a little tired.
"You know, we have to go out on
work on the weekends."
>> Ralna: You don't pay us
enough, Lawrence.
We have to go out and make some
money to live.
>> Guy: But here's what he said.
He said-"You should work less
and charge more."
And that's what we did.
I mean we told the manager and
he said-"Oh, you'll never get
that much money for our show."
And we did.
And so we worked less and we
charged more.
And I said-"Thank you,
>> Hardaway: It's showtime at
Ralna and Guy take the stage
before a sold-out crowd of
Lawrence Welk fans.
Their performance seems
effortless as they sing a
repertoire of songs ranging from
old standards to gospel, rock ‘n
roll to country.
Their voices are every bit as
strong and clear as those days
in the early seventies when they
captured the hearts of fans
across the country with the
magic of their duets.
>> Guy: We were the only husband
and wife theme they ever had on
the show.
And they just thought we were
America's sweethearts.
They loved the way we looked at
each other when we'd sing.
>> Ralna: We were newlyweds.
I mean that was my only love
with this guy.
You know it took me a long time.
>> Guy: I've always been really
thankful that Joe had gone off
the air when we got divorced
because it was hard enough for
the fans who found out about it
at the time.
But if we would have still been
doing the weekly shows, I don't
know what would have happened
We might have to hire security.
>> Ralna: We didn't work
together for a period of time.
So we tried really hard to be
civil to one another, nice to
one another for all those many,
many, many years.
And now, we're just like family.
You know I feel like Guy and
Sis, his new wife.
She calls me her wife-in-law.
And we just have a great time
We just love singing together
there and I know we were meant
to be as far as singing
We just know the magic we have.
We've discussed it.
And we don't understand it.
But it's there.
>> Guy: We're just grateful that
our voices still work at this
>> Hardaway: The concert reaches
its climax.
Guy and Ralna close with a set
of patriotic songs.
Though their marriage didn't
last, their music keeps them
together and, to their fans,
they will forever be united as
"Guy and Ralna" from the Stars
of Lawrence Welk.
>> Guy: At this stage of our
lives and with the people who
come see us, they're like
They're like people who watched
us on TV for 39 years now and
then it's like that's a whole
'nother level of satisfaction
that we have brought some
happiness to these people for
all these years and we're still
able to do it.
>> Ralna: We did "Milestones and
It was a PBS special and biggest
special we ever did.
47 original cast members got
together and we did this great
show in Branson, Missourri.
It took us eight days to do this
thing and put it together.
And so we were rehearsing a lot
and Guy and I went to breakfast
after one of the rehearsals and
I said-"You know, Guy, God put
us together for a reason and it
obviously wasn't to be husband
and wife because he hasn't done
very good at that."
But we have something together
and you know, I just think I
know that we do.
I know that it's special.
It's beyond us.
It's beyond him.
It's beyond me.
And it's beyond us.
So whatever it is, whatever that
intangible thing is, it's a
>> [music]
>> (applause)
>> [instrumental music]
>> Hardaway: The Lennon Sisters
literally grew up on television.
Their thirteen year run on The
Lawrence Welk Show began in 1955
and today their careers have
spanned over fifty years.
In that time they've performed
as both a quartet and a trio.
I caught up with them before
their concert at GPAC in 2010.
Let's meet Kathy and Janet, two
of the original group, and their
younger sister Mimi.
Together they are still
America's Sweethearts of Song.
>> [music]
>> Janet: We always sang from
the time we were babies.
We came from a very musical
Our dad and his brothers had a
musical group called the Lennon
And they would rehearse at our
home and we would sit at their
feet and listen.
And then they'd go home and we'd
sing other harmonies, too.
So we always, always sang and we
sang at our church.
And we sang in the musical at
our church and someone from the
Rotary Club heard us and had us
come sing at his luncheon.
Gave us $5 and then the Elks
Club gave us $10.
And we were just getting rich by
doing these little service
>> Hardaway: The story of how
the Lennon Sisters went from
dates at the local Rotary Club
to national TV appearances on
"The Lawrence Welk Show" is the
stuff of Hollywood legend.
Older sister Dianne, age 15,
went to high school with
Lawrence Welk's son Larry Jr.
He asked her out on a date and,
subsequently, found out about
their singing talents.
So, he went straight to his Dad
to tell him about the great
singing act he'd discovered.
And that's when the Lennon
Sisters got the phone call that
changed their lives.
>> Kathy: He said-"My dad's home
sick with the cold and I've been
bugging him so much about
hearing you.
"Would you come over and sing
right now?"
So we got together.
We went over to Mr. Welks.
Daddy took us over.
We were little kids.
We were 9, 12, 13, and 15.
And he came out in his smoking
It was a maroon satin smoking
jacket and these velvet
And he sat down and he said
-"Okay girls, now my son has
said so much about you.
"Please, will you sing?"
So we hit the piano and we sang
this spiritual he that was
popular by the McGuire sisters.
And we sang "He" and he just
said-"Would you be on my
Christmas Show?"
And that was 1955.
And we were on for 13 years
after that every Saturday night.
That was it.
>> Welk: And on this holy night,
I would to ask that you people
meet some of my good neighbors,
the Lennon Sisters.
I've got the pleasure of hearing
them sing out of my house and I
liked them so much, I decided to
share this wonderful singing
with you this evening.
We have Diane, 16.
Peggy, 14.
And Kathy, 12.
And Janet, 9.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Lennon
>> [singing]
>> Hardaway: You started so
We hear you were on national TV.
You were on the cover of Fan
You had the paper dolls and all
sorts of merchandise with your
face and your name on it.
What was it like to be child
stars like that?
>> Janet: We were just so
We were in such a wonderful
happy home and our home life was
And then we sat Fridays and
Saturdays-we would go down to
the ABC studios where the crew
was out family.
The orchestra was our family.
And we never really felt like we
were in some sort of Hollywood
We were always in a place where
we felt safe and grounded.
And so I think we were unlike a
lot of the child stars.
We just were very, very normal.
>> [music]
>> Hardaway: Okay, what was
Lawrence Welk like?
>> Janet: As a mentor, he was a
wonderful boss in that we
learned very young how to be
We had to be on time.
We had to know our lyrics.
I mean there were no cue cards.
We had to make our mark.
Everything was live.
And he was very strict that way
which was just a wonderful place
for us to be at that time
because we grew up knowing how
to work all these other shows.
>> Kathy: What did you think of
Mr. Welk as a little girl?
>> Mimi: I remember going down
to the studio and one night, the
very first time I sang with my
sisters, we sang "Do Re Mi."
And right before we were to go
out, I thought-"Oh, I'm going to
get sick."
So Didi ran me in to Mr. Welk's
And I remember going in and it
was flocked wallpaper and a
beautiful robe, like they were
saying, hanging and I just
thought-"This is the richest
thing I've ever, you know."
My eyes were like this big.
But I was in awe of him.
Yeah, I was four.
>> girls: They're here!
They're here!
>> boy: Who's here?
>> girls: The Lennon Sisters.
Right after their rehearsal with
Lawrence Welks orchestra this
morning, they hopped on the
And Mousketeers, here they are!
>> [ Lennon Sisters singing]
>> Hardaway: What do you think
was the magic that people saw in
you because you clicked.
>> Kathy: I think, one,
television was very early.
No body had the remote control
to turn to 700 channels.
You watched the Lawrence Welk
show on Saturday and Ed Sullivan
on Sunday.
And you did, you know, Lucy on
Monday and Milton Berle on
And people watched us.
We came in to their living room.
None of us were little beauties.
We weren't Shirley Temples.
We were like the kids down the
street that came in, sang
harmony, had our hair in our
pony tail.
And I think people could
identify with us, watched us
grow up every single week for 13
>> Janet: Because we were really
I mean, I was nine and then I
was 23 when I left the show.
So I had already had children
and everyone watched us.
They would send us birthday
gifts and wedding gifts and
anniversary gifts and baby
booties for our new babies.
And people just felt like we
were their family.
>> Mimi: And I think, too.
You know I was way down the
And we used to watch every
Saturday night from home.
We couldn't wait.
And it was kind of funny because
people would often ask me, you
know, what was it like growing
up with the Lennon Sisters as
your big sisters.
And they were just my sisters.
You know, they changed diapers.
They washed dishes.
They folded clothes.
It was just the job they went to
on Saturdays was they did the
And then they would come back
home and they'd just go back to
being my sisters again.
We were on every once in a
You'd have us little guys come
And so I would be the little
girl and my brothers would be
the little boys.
And we were always on the
Christmas show.
And that was fun.
>> Janet: And none of us really
had this great drive to be in
show business or to be on
We still say out career never
really defined us as human
We're just, you know, very
normal average people.
But it kept happening for us.
And continues to happen.
>> Kathy: When they left "The
Lawrence Welk Show", we ended up
having our-
Why we left "The Lawrence Welk
Show" is we were offered our own
television show for ABC.
We were on that with Jimmy
Then we went on to do "The Andy
Williams Show" for a couple of
Then went on to Vegas and it
just kept going.
And then finally it's a funny
thing because what happened was
we decided after we wrote an
autobiography, we got our star
on the walk of fame.
We continued to do Christmas
All the different variety shows
that we were on we were blessed
to be guest stars on all of
these-all Ed Sullivan and
But then we decided-okay, maybe
we're through.
And then we got that call from
Larry Welk Junior again and
said-"Won't you come to
And we said-"What's a Branson?"
And he said-"Well, you've got to
see this place.
"I'm opening a theatre and we'd
love you to star in the show and
have a show with all the
And we asked Andy Williams.
We asked the Osmond Brothers--
And at the time, John Davidson.
And they all said-"You belong
"It is such a great theatre."
And we decided to go for maybe a
couple of years.
And that was in 1994 and this
will be our 17th season.
>> Hardaway: Can you point to
one highlight in your career?
Is there a highlight that stands
>> Janet: Well I'll start.
Meeting John Kennedy a couple of
times and singing for him and
sitting on stage with him when
he was stumping to become
And that was really a thrill.
And we've sung for seven
>> Kathy: Seven presidents so
that's been-wow!
You know what?
There's been so many beautiful
I think when you come to being a
celebrity that the Hollywood
star on the walk of fame was
kind of special.
That was really lovely.
>> Mimi: Stevie Wonder was a
highlight for me,
I always filled in.
And yeah, Peggy couldn't be
And it was an American Music
Awards the very first year they
had them.
And my brother Pat went as my
And afterwards, we were at the
after party and Stevie Wonder
was just sitting all by himself
in the corner somewhere.
And we walked up and the energy
that came out of him when he sat
and held our hands and talked to
us was just something I'll never
ever forget.
It was wonderful.
>> Hardaway: You've been in show
business for so long.
I mean it's incredible.
>> Kathy: I am incredible.
>> Hardaway: What keeps you
>> Kathy: Bills.
>> Janet: It's fate!
>> Kathy: Every time we say-"You
know, that's it."
And then we get a call.
And it's like-"can't you just do
one more?" or "wouldn't you
think of?" or "could you?"
And it's like-"Well, maybe."
So I don't know.
>> Janet: We love working in
We love those 40 shows that we
>> Mimi: It's also something
very magic about being on stage
together as sisters.
You know, I mean, I watched them
for years on stage.
And then when I began to work
with them on stage, there's
It's like a pride of look at
this wonderful thing that we do
together as sisters because
we're three very individual
But when we're on stage, it's
like we're one.
We don't even worry about the
other one.
And if it doesn't, it's fun.
We just work as one.
>> Kathy: And we get such warmth
and love from our audience.
It's just it never ends.
They're just there for us.
The support and loyalty of all
these years-our fan club.
It's just phenomenal.
And I think that's part of it,
too, is what we get back.
So who knows what the Lord has
in plans for us.
We never know.
People say-"When are you going
to retire?"
It's like-"Well, when somebody
says get the hook!
"Get them off!"
>> Hardaway: The Lennon Sisters
are among the longest running
acts in show business history.
And today, three of their
grandchildren join them onstage.
They're "The Little Lennon
Sisters" and who knows -- maybe
their future is onstage, too.
Our interview was over, but
before the sisters left, they
gave me a belated Christmas
present in three-part harmony.
>> Kathy: We'll give you a
little sneak preview of our
Christmas Show-a little teaser.
How's that?
>> Mimi: Ready?
>> Kathy: Let's just do it.
>> Janet: Wait a minute.
It's too low.
>> Mimi: What is it?
>> Kathy: Oh, yeah-yeah.
(singing in harmony)
♪ So have yourself a Merry
little Christmas now.
Merry Christmas to you ♪♪
>> Kathy: There you go-a little
>> [instrumental music]
>> Hardaway: Want more
information about life after
Go to our website, wkno-dot-org-
And while you're online click
over to Next Avenue, PBS's
website where grown-ups keep
Thanks for watching.
I'm Cris Hardaway.
Funding for The Best Times is
provided by...
Trezevant, a lifecare community,
a celebration of life.
The responsible decision for
your well-being now and in the
And being responsible has never
been such a hoot.
The Best Times is the only
monthly news magazine
exclusively for the age 50 plus
Your copy is free at over 200
locations, with important
stories and news you don't want
to miss.
The Best Times is always the
Since 1988 the H. W. Durham
Foundation has been focused on
aging issues -- providing grants
to programs like The Best Times
to enrich and improve the
quality of life for our older
>> [instrumental music]