Bob Ralston is definitely the King of the Keyboards of America - Lawrence Welk
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Bob Ralston on The Lawrence Welk Show
on October 20, 2001*
(rerun on October 19, 2002 and again on October 18, 2003)

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Reprinted from The Lawrence Welk Show Musical Family News
(Summer Quarter, 2001)

Guest Columnist: Susie Dowdy, National Publicist, The Lawrence Welk Show.

Welk Stars Bubble and Shine as Hosts for New Season

Twelve stars of The Lawrence Welk Show, including Bobby Burgess, Sandi Griffiths, Guy Hovis, Ralna English, Tanya Roberts, Mary Lou Metzger, Dick Dale, Jack Imel, Michael Redman, Charlotte Harris, Bob Ralston, and Anacani, headed for the Welk Resort, San Diego, during the week of July 16th - 23rd. The purpose was to tape "Host" segments for the new season, which is the 15th year for The Lawrence Welk Show on public television.

Inside the television community, these "Host" segments are called, "wraparounds" and are added to the original programs to replace the time slots reserved for commercial breaks. Each program features a different Welk star introducing the theme of the show, and relating fascinating "behind-the-scenes" stories from the program they're hosting. The seven segments in each program update the viewers on the star's life, family, career, interests and hobbies and, at the same time, bring a present day feel to the original show.

Planes, Trucks and Automobiles

On Monday, July 15th, Welk Syndication producer, Margaret Heron, and writer, JoAnn Young arrived in San Diego for location scouting at the ever-changing and growing Welk Resort and the surrounding area. The production crew left Oklahoma City on Tuesday, July 16th on United Air to Denver, with a connecting flight to San Diego. The truck containing the necessary production equipment left Oklahoma City the day before, with two Oklahoma Network members driving the long 1,500-mile trek.

The plane arrived in San Diego on time, a car and van were rented, and everyone traveled the short way north to Escondido, home of the Welk Resort. Lawrence Welk chose the location himself and it is a beautiful place, complete with great accommodations, golf courses, swimming pools surrounded by palm trees, plentiful hummingbirds, delicious food, great shopping, a theatre and the most hospitable staff imaginable!

The production crew from the Oklahoma Network consisted of Bill Thrash, producer/director; Leon Smith, cinematographer; Mickie Smith, audio; Holly Emig, teleprompter; John Olson, JC Johnson and Tony Emig, gaffers; Shirley Lee, hair and make-up and Susie Dowdy, national publicity. Donna R. Romens, general manager of Welk Syndication drove down from Santa Monica later in the week and spent some time with the crew on various shoots.

Margaret Heron chose the unique locations for the "Host" segments and arranged for all the props and set decorations. These locations included various venues at the Welk Resort, as well as the Deer Park Winery, Champagne Village and "The Tudor House" in Bonsall, which is part of the Welk family estate.

The Bob Ralston Wraparound

The final day of taping started in the Welk Theater lobby with Bob Ralston hosting a 1978 show called "Time," which will premiere on public television in October. The theatre lobby is also the Lawrence Welk Museum and contains some photos and Welk memorabilia that date back to the turn of the 20th century.

Bob played a few songs on his Thomas organ (he's an official Thomas organ artist) and told of his involvement with SPOTOMA (The Society for the Preservation of Theater Organ Music in America. They restore and maintain theater pipe organs throughout the U.S.

Bob's wife, Fietje, joined him on the program, and they sang a duet in Fietje's native Dutch language. Their son, Randy, a talented amateur photographer, was also a guest and Bob proudly displayed some of his find photos. Bob's latest CD is called "Tulip Time" and he played a selection from it.

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* Thanks to and Debbie Eifler for providing this information.


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