Lawrence Welk was born 11 March 1903
, in Strasburg, North Dakota
; his parents were Russia
n immigrants, which no doubt accounts for Welk's lifelong accent
. He grew up on their farm and played his older brother's accordion
(left behind when his brother got married).
At the age of 21 he actually left home to play in other people's bands for a year or two, and started his own big band in 1925. He married Fern Renner on 19 April 1931, and they did side businesses (running hotels, selling gum, raising chickens) as well as moving around the country with the various incarnations of Lawrence's band.
The band did its first radio broadcast in 1937, and became more and more popular until their California local TV debut on 2 May 1951 and their national TV debut on ABC on 2 July 1955, where the Lawrence Welk Show ran until 1971, when it became a syndicated show broadcast until 1982. Even though his "champagne music" style was often accused of being bland, it still seemed to satisfy listeners/viewers over all these decades. He died on 17 May 1992 in Santa Monica, California. Since then repackaged episodes have been shown on many PBS stations (and are a listed activity on the activity calendars of several nursing homes one of my jobs does calendars for).
Major Source: The Lawrence Welk Show at http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/Set/2143/index.html