Kathy Lennon was born in Los Angeles, California. She is the second youngest of the four original Lennon Sisters singing group. The original quartet were the eldest four in a family of twelve siblings. Besides Kathy they were Dianne (born December 1, 1939), Peggy (born April 8, 1941), and Janet (born June 15, 1946).
In 1992, younger sister Mimi replaced second sister Peggy who retired. Sister Dianne (DeeDee) has also retired. The group were a regular on the weekly television show, The Lawrence Welk Show.
The quartet debuted on The Lawrence Welk Show on Christmas Eve 1955 after their school classmate, Larry Welk, son of Lawrence Welk, brought them to the attention of his father. Welk was home, sick in bed, when his son brought the sisters in to sing for him. He was so impressed he picked up the phone and booked them for that week's show. They were a mainstay on the show until they left to start a career of their own in 1968.
The quartet was only three members from 1960 to 1964; oldest sister Dianne (also called Dee Dee) married, left the group, and then rejoined them. Peggy sang the high harmony part, Kathy the low harmony, and Janet and Dianne sang the middle harmony and lead parts.
Their first hit, "Tonight, You Belong to Me" reached to #15 on the charts in 1956. This was followed by their 1961 single, "Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)," which turned out to be their highest-charting record. It provided them with the only number #1 single of their career, reaching the top of the charts in Japan. Items such as coloring books, paper dolls and story books were produced with the Lennon sisters.
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In 1969, the sisters starred in their own variety show, Jimmy Durante Presents the Lennon Sisters Hour. Six weeks before the show premiered on August 12, the sisters were forced to deal with the shooting death of their father, William Lennon, by a stalker named Chet Young, in the parking lot of the Marina Del Rey golf course. Young believed he was married to Peggy and claimed their father stood in the way and had to be eliminated. Two months later he used the same weapon to commit suicide.
The sisters discovered an unopened letter containing a cut out of their father, a picture of a gun pointed at his head, and the words "High Noon" (the time of the murder). In the wake of the murder, Jimmy Durante Presents The Lennon Sisters Hour lasted one season before it was cancelled by ABC.
In the 1970s, the sisters performed regularly on The Andy Williams Show, and toured with Williams across the country including engagements at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. They also appeared on several game shows as well, such as Family Feud, Tattletales and the Hollywood Squares.
From 1994 to 2004, the quartet performed as headliners at the Welk Champagne Theater in the Ozark community of Branson, Missouri. When Peggy retired from singing in 1999, younger sister Mimi took her place, and when Dianne left for a second time in 2001, the act became a trio again for the rest of its run in Branson.
While continuing to play tour dates, Kathy and Janet Lennon have branched out into the toy market, designing and selling their "Best Pals" dolls. In addition to the dolls, the sisters have recorded CDs of favorite children songs for their "Best Pals" line. In addition, Kathy appeared on a religious TV show called Search, produced by Catholic TV Studios in California.
"Best Pals" doll link at Amazon!
The four original Lennon Sisters wrote their autobiography Same Song, Separate Voices, which was originally published in 1985 and updated a decade later.