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PASSINGS: Norma Zimmer, Dick Walsh, Robert F. Ellsworth, Robert Traylor, Burt Reinhardt

Norma Zimmer, 'Champagne Lady,' dies at 87; Dick Walsh, sports executive who worked for Dodgers and Angels, dies at 85; Robert Ellsworth, former Nixon aide, dies at 84; Robert Traylor, basketball player, dies at 34; Burt Reinhardt, who helped launch CNN, dies at 91

May 12, 2011
  • Norma Zimmer, shown in 1974, performed on Lawrence Welk's network and later syndicated show from 1960 to 1982 as the "Champagne Lady."
Norma Zimmer, shown in 1974, performed on Lawrence Welk's network… (Los Angeles Times )

Norma Zimmer

Singer was Welk 'Champagne Lady'

Norma Zimmer, 87, the "Champagne Lady" of television's "The Lawrence Welk Show" and a studio singer, died Tuesday at her home in Brea. Her son, Larry, did not give the cause of death.

Zimmer performed on Welk's network and later syndicated show from 1960 to 1982 as the "Champagne Lady," the title Welk traditionally gave to his orchestra's lead female singer. Zimmer sang solos, sang duets with Jimmy Roberts and waltzed with Welk to the strains of his effervescent dance tunes tagged "champagne music."

Norma Zimmer: A brief obituary of singer Norma Zimmer in the May 12 LATExtra section said her son did not give the cause of death. That reference should have been to Larry Welk, son of the late orchestra leader Lawrence Welk. —

She appeared on the orchestra's public TV specials that have aired (along with repeats of the series) since 1987. Zimmer took part in a tribute to Welk and his show held earlier this year at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills.

Welk, who stopped performing in 1989, died in 1992.

Zimmer, born in 1923 in Larson, Idaho, grew up in Seattle. The petite blond sang with the Girlfriends, a quartet that performed with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Bing Crosby, including on Crosby's famous recording of "White Christmas."

Zimmer made several film and TV appearances and was the voice of the White Rose in the 1951 Disney film "Alice in Wonderland."

Dick Walsh

Sports exec worked for Dodgers, Angels

Dick Walsh, 85, a sports executive who served as vice president of stadium operations for the Dodgers in the 1960s and general manager of the Angels from 1968 to 1971, died Friday at his home in Fullerton of natural causes, family spokesman Brent Shyer said.

Walsh also had a stint as commissioner of the North American Soccer League from 1966 to '68 and was general manager of the Los Angeles Convention Center from 1973 to 1997. He later managed convention centers in Hawaii, Alaska and Ontario.

Richard Bishop Walsh Jr. was born Oct. 30, 1925, in South Bend, Ind., and moved to Los Angeles with his family in 1937. An All-City third baseman at Los Angeles High, he enlisted in the Army in 1943 and served in the Pacific during World War II. After his discharge, he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers as a front office employee in the team's farm system.

When the Dodgers moved west to Los Angeles in 1957, Walsh was assistant general manager overseeing baseball operations at the Coliseum and then supervised construction of Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine for owner Walter O'Malley. He eventually rose to vice president.

In September 1968, Angels owner Gene Autry hired Walsh to replace Fred Haney, the team's general manager. Three years later Walsh was fired as general manager and executive vice president after a lackluster stretch of mid-division finishes.

He became general manager of the Los Angeles Convention Center in 1973 and resigned in 1997 after clashing with the City Council and then-Mayor Richard Riordan over plans for construction of Staples Center and revelations by The Times that Walsh had been moonlighting as a consultant for the Hawaii Convention Center Authority.

He then went to work full time for the Honolulu center and later for others in Alaska and Ontario. He retired in 2005.

He and his wife of 62 years, Roberta, had three children.

Robert F. Ellsworth

Former congressman and aide to Nixon

Robert F. Ellsworth, 84, a former Republican congressman from Kansas, U.S. ambassador to NATO and advisor to President Nixon and Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, died Monday at a hospital in Encinitas of complications from pneumonia and organ failure. He and his wife, the Rev. Eleanor Ellsworth, lived in La Jolla.

Ellsworth was born June 11, 1926, in Lawrence, Kan., and attended the University of Kansas. He also received a law degree from the University of Michigan.

A Navy veteran, Ellsworth served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1961 to 1967. He was appointed to be Nixon's ambassador to NATO in 1969 and served in that capacity until 1971. Ellsworth was also deputy secretary of defense in the 1970s.

He later served as a close advisor to Dole, a fellow Kansan, and helped lead Dole's 1988 presidential campaign.

"Bob Ellsworth and I were close friends since we came to Congress in the early '60s," Dole said in an emailed statement. "As an expert on defense and foreign policy he was helpful to me over the years. On a more personal note, he was 'Best Man' at our wedding in 1975. He had a keen intellect, a warm personality and a moderate conservative approach to politics."

Ellsworth had recently served as chairman and founding director of Hamilton BioVentures in Solana Beach and was on the board of directors of the Nixon Foundation in Yorba Linda.

Robert Traylor

Former NBA player

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