Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tony Orlando and Lennons

Saw some news posted by Carolyn on the Welk Notes group:
The Lennon Sisters will be back in Branson in 2008 and will be performing with Tony Orlando at The Welk Theatre. They'll first appear with him at Branson fest in April 8 - 12, 2008.


*off to watch the season premieres of My Name Is Earl and The Office, then Mad Men (tv is my life apparently)*

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Tear Time and Take Five

Pop Country, (Feb. 1969), is not particularly one of my favorite Lennon Sisters albums, but it does contain a real gem, Tear Time. I adore their version of this song. It's so sad, lush and just meant for dancing with someone close. I always end up putting it on repeat whenever I play it. I'm pretty sure it's Dee Dee who has the divine solo in it. See if you love it as much as me - download it here.

Also, thanks to Peter MacNeil for the link to the following two Las Vegas Sun articles on the Lennon Sisters.

September 04, 2007


By Jerry Fink
Las Vegas Sun

Lawrence Welk turned the Lennon Sisters into household names in 1955 - long before the Osmonds and the Jacksons - and on his television stage they sang for 14 seasons.

As performers, the Lennon Sisters have been around for 50 years. Peggy, now 66, and Dee Dee, 68, are now retired. But Janet, 61, and Kathy, 64, have been singing in Branson, Mo., for almost 15 years.

Janet and Kathy and some of their grandchildren will appear at the FAO Schwar z toy store in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace Saturday, performing from 3 to 5 p.m. and signing their new line of dolls, Best Pals.

The duo recently talked to the Sun by telephone from their home in Branson.

1. Career

Janet: It's been an unbelievable career. We were blessed to have started so young and to have worked with the greats in the business - Ed Sullivan, Perry Como, Sammy Davis Jr., Jack Benny, George Burns, Andy Williams. Jimmy Durante was a jewel. We sang for seven presidents. It's been an incredible career. Young people just starting out today don't have the chance to work with that caliber of talent.

But we traveled and were gone a lot from our family. We had a family of 11 children. We all went to Catholic grammar and high schools. We lived in a great big old house in Venice, Calif., and mom and dad saw to it that we led as normal a life as possible. We would perform Saturday nights at the ABC studios - sing a song, do a show - and then come home, change our little brothers' and sisters' diapers, do homework.

2. Downside

Janet: A fan who had been in and out of mental institutions was, in his mind, married to our sister Peggy. In his mind dad was keeping him from being with Peggy and he shot and killed our dad. We were in our 20s. We trusted our fans so much but he had scared us for years, and there were no stalking laws back then. We couldn't do much about him. He ended up following through on his promises. Mom was left at home with eight children under 18 to raise.

Kathy: It was like a terrible movie, and to think we got through all that. We were going to quit performing. It was Andy Williams who talked us out of it. We never wanted to go on stage live again. We were petrified. But Andy promised we would be safe. He took us to Vegas. He said, "You'll be treated like queens. You'll be all right." So Andy Williams brought us back onstage. The first place we performed after daddy was killed was Caesars Palace.

3. Coping

Janet: We have each other. We've always been close. We were our own therapy, really. We got along so well. We were very open with one another. We dealt with it by talking about it. We all have deep faith in God and believe things happen because they're suppose d to, and our mom had tremendous faith.

Kathy: Mom had the faith of Job. She was a rock. She would comfort us and others, saying, "We don't know the reasons. We'll never know why. We have to accept and go on. And we must know that we are put on Earth for a reason. You are blessed to have had your dad this many years." We were raised that way. It was really the deep faith in God that got us through. You go on. You don't have many options. It was very frightening, continuing to perform and to be around crowds. We had security with us for a long time. That's one of the reasons it was very interesting for us to come to Branson. We work right across the street from where we live. It's a beautiful theater right across the street and we can come home every night.

4. Branson

Kathy: The four of us moved here about 15 years ago, plus many of the children. They worked behind stage with us, some on stage. Three of our brothers, who had a wonderful big band show at the Welk Resort (in Escondido, Calif.) came here to live too. We have four siblings still in California and the rest are here.

Janet: The Lawrence Welk Orchestra was here up until three years ago. It was a big band show, with a lot of the performers from the Lawrence Welk television show. My husband was the conductor and did all the musical arrangements. Then three years ago they stopped that show and since then we've been performing the Christmas show here with the Gatlin Brothers and we love it.

5. Their favorite stars

Janet: We found that the bigger the star, the nicer they were. We ran across one who wasn't - we won't mention whom - but really when you think about it, just one out all the great people we worked with isn't so bad. We loved Perry Como and Jimmy Durante and Sammy Davis, one of our fun, fun friends.

Kathy: Andy Williams. We were very close to him, and still are. The Osmond Brothers. John Davidson. Jack Jones. We're very lucky. We're very close with Glen Campbell. We've worked with them all. It's very hard to say who is our favorite. We were always treated so beautifully.
Jerry Fink can be reached at 259-4058 or at

Las Vegas Sun

September 04, 2007

Sisters' line of rag dolls recalls the good-ol' days

By Kristen Peterson
Las Vegas Sun

With all the bells and whistles of today's dolls, clever action figures and dancing bears, a simple rag doll with yarn hair, knit stockings and a prairie outfit seems almost fictional, an embodiment of any maudlin country song referencing "the good-ol' days."

Rag dolls don't sing, dance, talk or walk.

They're not as elaborately outfitted as the "American Girl" series, nor are they as expensive. They lack toy cell phones, head phones and BlackBerries and they are years (years!) away from the sexy single Barbie and her nemesis Bratz Dolls.

Essentially, the rag doll begins and ends with your imagination. And that can be quite a responsibility.

But in talking with Kathy and Janet Lennon of the famed Lennon Sisters, embracing this generational throwback to rag dolls isn't as difficult as it seems.

In fact, they believe it's quite natural.

A year ago, the two sisters, who came to prominence at ages 3 and 6 on "The Lawrence Welk Show," launched a line of rag dolls called Best Pals. The soft, pliable 16-inch dolls are replicas of their own childhood dolls made by their mother and grandmother.

Why did they return to an earlier era of dolls? "We felt there was a hole in the toy industry for a simpler time, a need to nurture a doll, to hug and love it," Kathy Lennon says.

The dolls' embroidered faces, patterned dresses and 1950s simplicity may turn quizzical eyes among today's youth who demand battery-operated interactive play, but with the help of the Lennon sisters, here is some advice:

Step 1

Just hug her: The arms are not animatronic, but she will hug you back in her own limp, rag doll way. The rag doll "just falls into your arms," Kathy Lennon says.

Step 2

Take her outdoors: Run down the street and through the park - and let her soar in the open air. Forget tenderness for the moment. "You can hold her by the braid. You can hold her hand or her dress," Janet says. "That's how we carried her."

Step 3

Take her wherever you go. Roll her up and fold her into a backpack, Kathy Lennon says. "We would take our dolls in our little doll trunks."

Step 4

Be thoughtful. "We also took little nighties with them," Janet says. "They'd sleep in our hotel beds with us."

Step 5

Nurture them: "We used to sit in our little rockers and sing to them," Janet says, adding, "It's such a self explanatory doll. The child transforms."

For further instructions, ask the sisters directly. In town for the ABC Kids Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Kathy and Janet Lennon will be at FAO Scwhar z in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday to launch a new line of multicultural dolls and sing a few songs from their "Best Pals" CD.

They'll also have their original dolls. No bells, no whistles.
Kristen Peterson can be reached at 259-2317 or at

Las Vegas Sun

Sunday, September 2, 2007


Happy Labor Day weekend y'all! Finally got my car back from the body shop, nearly four weeks after that uninsured driver slammed into me. Kinda scared to drive much - people are idiots around here. Aside from a few errands yesterday I have been lazy as all get out. And I'm loving it.

Anybody watching AMC's series Mad Men? It is brilliant. I had missed the first few episodes so I spent all morning catching up on the marathon they aired. I LOVE this show, even though I feel really bad for the female characters. I knew women were viewed pretty much as chattel back in the day, but dayum. My poor, maligned gender. I was talking with my mom about the show. I said, "Wow, y'all were really treated like shit, weren't you?" She didn't disagree.

Now, I know the Lennon Sisters seemed at their most happy as homemakers, least that's what they've said in countless articles. Nevertheless, they also clearly enjoyed their careers as well. I imagine they had to have chafed at the condescending attitudes toward women that were so prevalent back then. It makes their perseverance and success all the more enjoyable to this fan.

Here are some clips I added to YouTube:

Sittin On Top Of The World
- Love the song; the costumes, not so much.

Tumblin' Tumbleweeds - Cowpokes in pink.

Marianne - I like the dancing at the end - as usual Janet moves the best.