The Champagne Lady



By the mid 1950s television had become a way of life for many Americans and television advertising was in its infancy. Effanbee had already obtained rights to produce Howdy Doody and Rootie Kazootie and was actively looking for other names to license.

About this time the Lawrence Welk show, which had been a popular local program in Los Angeles, went nationwide. It was intended only as a summer replacement, but America fell in love with Welk's bouncy versions of familiar tunes, especially when Welk waltzed to them with the lovely "Champagne Lady," Alice Lon.

By 1956 Welk's audience numbered more than 40 million and Effanbee was one of many companies that sought licensing agreements for spinoff products. Thus Effanbee made its first tentative entry into collector dolls made to be marketed to adult women with the "Champagne Lady". Boudoir dolls were still popular and perhaps Effanbee thought women who Loved the show would enjoy having their very own "Champagne Lady" posed prettily in their bedrooms.

This beautiful doll is marked Effanbee 1957. She came in three sizes 19" 21" nd 25," and was jointed at the ankles, knees and waist. Although Alice Lon and all of Welk's Champagne Ladies were brunettes, the doll had rooted blonde hair. Alice Lon's sister maintains that Effanbee initally planned to make the doll look more like Alice. This did not happen, probably because Welk, not Lon, owned the rights to the "Champagne Lady" name which had been used by his female singers since 1938.

She came dressed in a red or green cocktail dress with several layers of peticoat, long white gloves, a jeweled handbag, a flowered headband, earrings and clip, nylon stockings and silver strapped high heeled shoes. Effanbee had hoped to have the "Champagne Lady" introduced to 40 million prospective doll buyers on the Lawrence Welk show but the show's sponser, Dodge, objected and the doll never was seen on the show. Whatever advertising was done was apparently ineffective as the "Champagne Lady," though beautiful and well made, never caught on with little girls or adult women fans.

Less than a year later the doll was dropped from Effanbee's line. A decade later Effanbee did use the name again for one of it's Grande Dames series, but that doll had no connection with Welk. At least one person was very interested in the Champagne Lady. Alice Lon's doll disappeared soon after her death in 1981.

This is believed to be a version made available through the Sears catalog.