Myron Floren, the accordion virtuoso who came to fame in the mid-1950s as a regular on "The Lawrence Welk Show," has died. He was 85. Mr Mr. Floren, who...
LOS ANGELES — Myron Floren, the accordion virtuoso who came to fame in the mid-1950s as a regular on “The Lawrence Welk Show,” has died. He was 85.
Mr. Floren, who continued performing until a few months ago, died of cancer Saturday at his home in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., said Margaret Heron, syndication manager for the Welk show.
Dubbed “The Happy Norwegian” for his perpetual grin, Mr. Floren joined Welk’s orchestra on the road in 1950. A year later, the orchestra made its first TV appearance, broadcast from the Aragon Ballroom in Santa Monica.
“The Lawrence Welk Show” began its 27-year national run on Saturday nights in 1955.
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After the show ceased production, Mr. Floren continued to travel 150,000 miles a year, playing special engagements and making appearances with other Welk show performers.
The son of a grain farmer and the eldest of seven children, Mr. Floren was born Nov. 5, 1919, in Webster, S.D. He fell in love with music at age 6.
“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 local county fair.
In 1950, Mr. Floren and his wife, Berdyne, celebrated her birthday by going to a St. Louis ballroom where the Welk orchestra was playing. Mr. Floren had met the bandleader in South Dakota, and Welk invited him on stage to play. The crowd was so enthusiastic that Welk offered him a job at intermission.
Mr. Floren never tired of playing the accordion for an audience. “I’m going to keep squeezing this thing,” he once said, “until nobody calls anymore.”
Mr. Floren is survived by his wife, five daughters and seven grandchildren.