BRANSON, Mo. -- His name and talent have helped draw big crowds to Branson. Now, Tony Orlando says it's time to retire.
The Welk Theater has announced 2013 will be Orlando's last.
"I think that gives Branson a lot credibility that he moved his family here and this is where he wants to retire," said Susan Smith, a spokeswoman for the Welk Theater.
While spending 20 seasons on various Branson stages, Orlando was sure to shine the spotlight on our nation's military heroes. Orlando has been one of the main organizers behind Branson’s annual weeklong Veterans Day celebration. The Welk Theater says Orlando will still headline for this year's show on Nov. 11.The performers’s announcement is the latest in a line of shows ending for big names Branson. Entertainer Yakov Smirnoff will close the curtain this fall after 21 years here, and 2012 saw the passing of singer Andy Williams, who was also in his 20th year of performing in Branson. [Editor's note: a previous version of this report said Smirnoff stopped performing in Branson in 2012; the general manager of his theater says he will perform there in October and November of 2013.]
Now, another theater is left with a big gap to fill.
"We will absolutely miss him," said Smith. "He is a legendary performer and there is no one who performs like Tony Orlando."
Smith said Orlando will still live in Branson, and will continue to make limited appearances across the country.
The Welk Theaters says, after the departure of Orlando, it will concentrate on its Price is Right Show. The production was launched last year.