Maxine Gray, Champagne Lady (1934-1936)
Lawrence Welk's First Champagne Lady
Maxine Gray was Lawrence Welk's first Champagne Lady. Gray was 18 years old when she headlined her own radio show for WFAA. After hearing her sing, Lawrence Welk invited Gray to join his Hotsy Totsy Boys Orchestra, which she did in 1934. Gray became the unofficial Champagne Lady as the term had not been coined yet by the press. In 1936, Gray left the show and joined the Ted Weems Orchestra. Gray was replaced on the Welk Show by Lois Best. In 1938, she broke her back and suffered other major injuries in a train wreck. She had joined the Hal Kemp Orchestra by then and the band was on their way to a performance in Illinois. Gray took over a year to fully recuperate.