Ardis Wells, 95Ardis Arlee Wells, 95, Alexandria, died Friday, February 15, 2013 at Knute Nelson.
Ardis Arlee Wells, 95, Alexandria, died Friday, February 15, 2013 at Knute Nelson.
Ardis was born to Colonel Elsworth and Nellie Irene (Steele) Hallett on July 10, 1917 in Monterey, MN.
Ardis was born and raised in show business. Her mother and father were entertainers who toured in vaudeville. Ardis played the ukulele and guitar at a young age. She yodeled, sang, and played in shows during her childhood. After graduating from high school in 1936, she studied voice and drama at Carnegie Hall in New York. Her Uncle Louis Hallett tutored her. She also studied dance in Minneapolis.
Ardis met Jimmy Wells in the Big Ole Circus Show in 1942. She had a trapeze act and performed on the back of “Babe” the elephant. Ardis wrestled professionally for a short period before marrying Jimmy in 1943. She also wrestled in Minneapolis in 1951, where she won 21 straight matches.
Ardis and Jimmy started a country western band they named The Dakota Round Up. They played at the Grand Ole Opry and had extended engagements in Minneapolis. They toured two years with Rex Allen of Republic Records. Ardis recorded many single records including “Selling Chances” on the North Star label. She was known as the “Yodeling Sweetheart.”
Ardis founded the first all-girl country western band in the Midwest. Ardis and Her Rhythm Ranch Gals were the main headliner for The Flame in Minneapolis during the 1950s. Ardis was inducted into the Minnesota Rock and Country Hall of Fame in 2005. Some of Ardis‘ recordings are the background of her video tribute at andersonfuneral.net.
Ardis married Al Wicklund in 1961 and moved to Alexandria, where she performed at the Hillside Supper Club with Jimmy Jenson. It was in Alexandria that she started the hobby of raising and racing sled dogs. Gradually, entertaining became secondary in her life and dogs became her prime interest. Over the span of many years, she raised and sold hundreds of dogs, some of which raced in the Alaskan Iditarod. Her love of huskies followed her to her death on February 15, 2013. She was 95 years young.
She has been a resident of Edgewood Vista for the past six years. Ardis loved Alexandria and made many friends. She will be missed by all.
She is survived by her nephew, Thomas Hallett (Marie) of Fargo, ND; three nieces, Bonnie Hallett, Winsted; Betty Swan (Banks), The Villages, FL; and Justine Brockett (Richard), Arnold, CA; and many great- and great-great-nieces and nephews.
A memorial service was held Tuesday, February 19 at Anderson Funeral Home Chapel. Inurnment was at Kinkead Cemetery.
Arrangements are with Anderson Funeral Home in Alexandria; www.andersonfuneral.net.
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