Wayne Newton

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Wayne Newton
Newton in concert in 2012
Background information
Birth name Carson Wayne Newton
Also known as Mr. Las Vegas, The Midnight Idol, Mr. Entertainment
Born (1942-04-03) April 3, 1942 (age 80)
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
Genres Jazz, pop
Occupation(s) Singer, actor
Instruments Vocals, Guitar, Steel Guitar, Piano, Percussion
Years active 1962–present
Website Official website

Carson Wayne Newton (born April 3, 1942) is an American singer and entertainer. One of the best-known entertainers in Las Vegas, Nevada, he is known by the nicknames The Midnight Idol, Mr. Las Vegas and Mr. Entertainment. His well known songs include 1972's "Daddy, Don't You Walk So Fast" (his biggest hit, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard chart), "Years" (1980),[1] and his vocal version of "Red Roses for a Blue Lady" (1965). He is best known for his signature song, "Danke Schoen" (1963), which was notably used in the score for Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986).

Early years

He was born Carson Wayne Newton in Norfolk, Virginia, to Patrick Newton, an auto mechanic, and his wife, Evelyn Marie Plasters.[2][3][4] He is of English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, German, and Native American ancestry.[5][6][7] Newton has stated that his mother is half Cherokee and his father half Patawomeck.[6] When his father was serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Newton spent his early years in Roanoke, learning the piano, guitar, and steel guitar at age six.[8]

While he was still a child, his family moved to near Newark, Ohio. He began singing in local clubs, theaters, and fairs with his older brother, Jerry. Because of his connection with Newark and having family still there, the city selected Newton as the grand marshal of its bicentennial parade in 2002. However, Newton's severe asthma forced his family to move to Phoenix, Arizona in 1952, where he graduated from North High School (Phoenix, Arizona).[9] The brothers, as the Rascals in Rhythm, appeared with the Grand Ole Opry roadshows and on ABC-TV's Ozark Jubilee; and performed for the president and auditioned unsuccessfully for Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour.

In the spring of 1958, toward near the end of his junior year of high school, a Las Vegas booking agent saw Newton a local TV show, Lew King Rangers Show, on which the two Newton brothers were performing and took them back for an audition. Originally signed for two weeks, the brothers eventually performed for five years, doing six shows a day. On September 29, 1962, they first performed on The Jackie Gleason Show. He would perform on Gleason's show 12 times over the following two years. In the early to mid-1960s, Wayne also acted and sang as "Andy" the baby-faced Ponderosa ranch hand on the classic western TV series, Bonanza.

Career as an entertainer

Many prominent entertainment icons such asLucille Ball, Bobby Darin, Danny Thomas, George Burns, and Jack Benny lent Newton their support. In particular, Benny hired Newton as an opening act for his show. After his job with Benny ended, Newton was offered a job to open for another comic at the Flamingo Hotel, but Newton asked for, and was given, a headline act. In 1972 his recording of "Daddy, Don't You Walk So Fast" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in July 1972.[10] Influential music director Rosalie Trombley of Canadian station CKLW "The Big 8" radio in the Detroit area decided to add the record to her radio station to embarrass her ex-husband, who wasn't faithful about seeing his children, as Trombley explained in the documentary Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Big 8. The record topped the Canadian charts. From Detroit, "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast" took off and broke nationwide.

From 1980 through 1982, The Beach Boys and The Grass Roots performed Independence Day concerts on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., attracting large crowds.[11][12] However, in April 1983, James G. Watt, President Ronald Reagan's Secretary of the Interior, banned Independence Day concerts on the Mall by such groups. Watt said that "rock bands" that had performed on the Mall on Independence Day in 1981 and 1982 had encouraged drug use and alcoholism and had attracted "the wrong element", who would mug individuals and families attending any similar events in the future.[12] Watt then announced that Newton, a friend and supporter of President Reagan and a contributor to Republican Party political campaigns, would perform at the Mall's 1983 Independence Day celebration.[12][13] When Newton entered an Independence Day stage on the Mall on July 4, 1983, members of his audience booed.[14]

On May 23, 1989, Newton's live stage show was broadcast as a Pay-Per-View event called Wayne Newton Live in Concert. In an odd break with tradition, Newton didn't perform his trademark songs "Danke Schoen" or "Red Roses for a Blue Lady". Newton did, however, close the show with a special finale of "MacArthur Park", which culminated with an onstage rainfall.

On December 12, 1992, Newton hit #1 on the Cashbox Pop and Country charts with an Elvis Presley-inspired song, "The Letter." [15] Controversy swirled around this chart feat, as "The Letter" did not chart at all on Billboard Magazine's authoritative Hot 100 chart, Adult Contemporary chart or "Bubbling Under" chart. It did not make the Radio and Records magazine chart either. This marked the first and only time in history that a record hit #1 on the Cashbox Top 100 chart, yet failed even to chart on Billboard's Hot 100.[16]

Wayne Newton strums the guitar during his USO show at the Patriotic Festival held on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. May, 2005.

In 1994, Newton performed his 25,000th solo show in Las Vegas.

In 1999, Newton signed a 10-year deal with the Stardust, calling for him to perform there 40 weeks out of the year for six shows a week in a showroom named after him. Orchestrated by his business partner, Jack Wishna, this "headliner-in-residence" deal was the first of its kind. In 2005, in preparation for the eventual demolition of the casino, the deal was, from all reports, amicably terminated; Newton began a 30-show stint that summer at the Hilton. His last show at the Stardust was on April 20, 2005.[17] During a break in his on stage performance, he announced to the crowd that night he wanted to spend more time with his wife and new daughter as the main reasonings for canceling the contract. Newton said the Boyd family made him a very nice offer to stay on past the demolition of the hotel and casino and to play in other Boyd venues, but Newton declined citing "another deal in the works for Vegas", but he did not mention the Hilton specifically. News crews were expecting this performance to end on time, to make their 10 pm and 11 pm shows, but the show finally ended around 11:30 pm, thus eliminating the possibility. Mr. Las Vegas went on at 7:30 that night, and sang nearly his entire repertoire and songs of other Vegas mainstays as well.

Newton was elected to the Gaming Hall of Fame in 2000.[18]

Gen. Tommy Franks, Commander, U.S. Forces Central Command (CENTCOM) sings a duet with Wayne Newton aboard the USS Nimitz during a USO show. At the time, the USS Nimitz was deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. June, 2003.

In 2001, Newton succeeded Bob Hope as chairman of the USO Celebrity Circle. In January 2005, Newton started a reality television show on E! called The Entertainer. The winner got a spot in his act, plus a headlining act of their own for a year. And during player introductions at the 2007 NBA All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas, Newton sang Presley's "Viva Las Vegas."

Newton was the grand marshal of the 80th Annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, Virginia, May 1–7, 2007.[19] He canceled a sold-out show to join the Festival.

Newton was featured on the 2007 fall season of Dancing with the Stars partnered with two-time champion Cheryl Burke. He became the third contestant to be eliminated from the contest. During the taping (which takes place at CBS Television City), he also became the first guest on The Price Is Right, which tapes on the same lot, under host Drew Carey, who began adding guests to the show, especially to present prizes. Newton appeared after a trip to Las Vegas was shown.

In 2007 Newton revealed on Larry King Live how he personally confronted Johnny Carson about jokes the The Tonight Show host was making about him. Newton said he thought "Johnny Carson is a mean-spirited human being. And there are people that he has hurt that people will never know about. And for some reason at some point, he decided to turn that kind of negative attention toward me. And I refused to have it."[20][21]

In 2008, Newton received a Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service. The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a national memorial to President Wilson, commemorates "the ideals and concerns of Woodrow Wilson." The award honors leaders who have given back to their communities.

Beginning October 14, 2009, he began performing his newest show "Once Before I Go" at the Tropicana in Las Vegas.[22] Newton performed at the Tropicana for a limited time only - approximately six months.[23] Newton currently performs in various venues worldwide, on a touring basis.[24]


In 1968, Newton married Elaine Okamura. They had one child and divorced in 1985. In 1994, Newton married the former Kathleen McCrone, a lawyer from North Olmsted, Ohio. The couple has one daughter, Lauren Ashley Newton, who was born on April 19, 2002.

Arabian horse breeder

Newton has stated, "My two loves in life, from the time I can remember, were music and horses, and I couldn't decide which I loved more."[25] His Arabian horse breeding program, located at his Casa de Shenandoah Ranch, is called Aramus Arabians, and has produced six generations of horses, breeding over 700 foals, with 96 champions as of 2014.[26] Newton's first experience with horses was at his uncle's farm, where he visited frequently. He bought his first horse when he sold his bicycle and his parents' movie camera to buy a foal when he was a sixth-grader. Originally owning Thoroughbreds and American Quarter Horses, he "fell in love" with the Arabian breed via his ownership of the Champion stallion *Aramus, after whom he named his horse ranch.[25] He first came to the attention of Arabian breeders in 1969 when he partnered with Tom Chauncy, an Arabian breeder and television station owner, to purchase the stallion *Naborr from the estate of Anne McCormick.[27] They paid $150,000, which at the time was the highest price ever paid for an Arabian horse at auction.[28] Shortly thereafter, Newton formed a partnership with other Arabian breeders to purchase *Aramus, who was a son of *Naborr. He became the sole owner of *Aramus in 1972.[27]

Newton was given the Arabian Horse Breeders' Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.[27] He continues to be directly involved in management of his horses, planning the breeding program for his horses, determining which to keep and which to sell, and even assisting his ranch staff during foaling season. He was awarded the Arabian Professional and Amateur Horseman's Association Breeder of the Year award in 1996.[25]

Finances and legal problems

From 1980 to 1982 Newton was part owner of the Aladdin Hotel, in a partnership that led to a number of lawsuits and a failed attempt by Newton to purchase the entire hotel in 1983.[29]

In 1992, Newton filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to reorganize an estimated $20 million in debts, much of which was accumulated while suing NBC for libel; he claimed the network had reported that he partnered with the Mafia to buy the Aladdin. His bankruptcy declaration included a $341,000 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax lien. By 1999, he was financially well off again.[30]

In August 2005, the IRS filed a lawsuit against Newton alleging that he and his wife owed more than $1.8 million in taxes and penalties. One of Newton's tax lawyers disputed that, saying, "We believe the IRS owes him money."[31]

In late 2009, officials at Oakland County International Airport in Waterford, Michigan claimed Newton owed the airport more than $60,000 for unpaid parking fees, which they claimed he owed after having abandoned a $2 million Fokker F28 plane there more than three years before.[31] The plane was originally flown in for renovations in 2005. After they were completed in 2007 the plane was moved to an outside parking area. The monthly parking fees were $5,000. An aircraft of this type needs to have its engines run at least once a month to retain its airworthiness. In 2009 it was discovered that the interior of the craft was rotting, and filled with mold.[32] The plane has since been disassembled, transported, and reassembled on his estate grounds.[33]

In February 2010, Bruton Smith sued Newton, claiming he was delinquent on a loan he had personally guaranteed, then bought from Bank of America. Smith is seeking foreclosure of Newton's Las Vegas ranch Casa de Shenandoah.[34]

Also in February 2010, Clark County sheriff's deputies and a fleet of moving vans were refused entry to Newton's ranch at E. Sunset and S. Pecos roads. The officers attempted to serve civil papers and seize property as part of a $501,388 judgment against Newton awarded to Monty Ward, his former personal pilot, but security personnel employed by Newton refused to accept the papers. Ward, who filed suit in 2006, won the judgment for past-due wages in January 2009 and since then had attempted to garnish the wages of Newton when he performed at the MGM Grand and later the Tropicana hotel-casino. As of January 27, 2010, the value of the judgment was reportedly growing at a rate of $126.86 per day.[35]

In a 2009 lawsuit, Newton was accused of failing to pay $32,384 for hay delivered to his Las Vegas ranch, presumably for consumption by his horses at the ranch. As of February 27, 2010, the lawsuit was still pending in Clark County District Court, with Newton and his attorneys having filed no response in court.[35]

In another 2009 suit, he was accused of owing GMAC $36,999 for a lease on a Cadillac. The suit was ultimately dropped.[35]

Newton was enmeshed in another lawsuit over a stalled project to convert his 40-acre home into a museum. In this lawsuit, a developer claimed he purchased Newton's home and paid the singer $19.5 million, with the understanding that Newton would move out and allow the property to be converted into a museum. The developer claimed that he has invested $50 million on the project, but that Newton had failed to move out and had deliberately thwarted construction efforts, including by sexually harassing construction workers.[36] The case was set to go to trial in May 2013.[37]

On December 17, 2012, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Bruce Markell approved the sale of Wayne Newton's estate, Casa de Shenandoah, to be listed for sale by Nathan and Associates, a Las Vegas brokerage firm. Bankruptcy papers placed the value of the property at $50,800,000.[38] The property remained on the market, until 2015, when Newton reached an accord with Lacy Harber, the businessman who owned 70% of the corporation that had purchased Casa de Shenandoah to turn it into a museum. Newton and his family moved back into the property, and in September 2015, after construction of a museum to house memorabilia, it was opened for public tours.[39]


The road serving the main terminal of McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is named Wayne Newton Boulevard in his honor.

Charitable causes

Newton featured in the production of "You Can’t Say Love Enough" (1996), an all- star single, also featuring Dolly Parton, Heidi Newfield and several other artist-celebrities; this production served to raise funds for diabetes research [40][41][42] and also to institute the Wayne Newton Research Grant awarded by the American Diabetes Association to several researchers including Jose F. Caro and Peter J. Roach.[43][44]


Year Single Chart positions
US Country CAN CAN
1963 "Heart! ( I Hear You Beating)"(with the Newton Brothers) 82 64
"Danke Schoen"(with the Newton Brothers) 13 12 3
"Shirl Girl"(with the Newton Brothers) 58 74 18
1964 "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover" 123
"The Little White Cloud That Cried" 99
"Only You" 122 119
1965 "Comin' On Too Strong" 65 114
"Red Roses for a Blue Lady" 23 18 4 3
"I'll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time" 52 76 17
"Summer Wind" 78 86 9 16 6
"Remember When (We Made These Memories)" 69 87 15
"Some Sunday Morning" 123 96 23 15
1966 "After the Laughter" 123
"Laura Lee" 144
"Stagecoach To Cheyenne" 113 148 23 60
"Games That Lovers Play" 86 97 22
1967 "Sunny Day Girl" 23
"If I Only Had a Song To Sing" 132
"Summer Colors" 20
"Through the Eyes of Love" 26
"Love of the Common People" 106 33
1968 "All the Time" 134 26
"Remembering" 128
"Dreams of the Everyday Housewife" 60 58 14 28
"Husbands and Wives" 97 28
1969 "(I Guess) The Lord Must Be In New York City" 28
1972 "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast"(gold record)[10] 4 1 3 55 1 1
"Can't You Hear the Song?" 48 38 3 32 8
"Anthem" 65 45 53
1973 "Pour Me a Little More Wine" 107 26
"While We're Young" 107
1974 "Help Me, Help You" 67
"Lady Lay" 101 83 47 37
1976 "The Hungry Years" 82 81 11
1979 "You Stepped Into My Life" 90 91
"I Apologize" 45
1980 "Years" 35 32 40
1989 "While the Feeling's Good"(with Tammy Wynette) 63
1992 "The Letter" 1


TV credits

The Jack Benny Show 12-4-1964....Wayne sings two songs and plays multiple instruments

  • The Lucy Show (Season 4 Episode 14, 12-27-65) Where the 23-year-old Newton plays a fictional character named. . ."Wayne Newton". He sings 3 songs in the half hour episode: "Side By Side", "Bessie The Heifer" and "You're Nobody till Somebody Loves You".
  • Bonanza (1966) In 1966, Newton played the character "Andy Walker" in two episodes of the TV series Bonanza.
  • Here's Lucy (Season 1 Episode 9, 11-25-68) "Lucy sells Craig to Wayne Newton" and (Season 2 Episode 22, 2-16-70) "Lucy and Wayne Newton".
  • In 1979, Newton appeared on the TV series "Vegas" as Justin Marsh, a race car driver mixed up in crime and friend of Dan Tanna, in an episode entitled "the Classic Connection".
  • In 1986, Newton appeared as CSA Capt. Thomas Turner in the TV mini series North and South, Book II.
  • In 1990, Newton appeared on the TV series Full House in the episode titled "Viva Las Joey".
  • In 1991, Newton appeared on the TV series Roseanne in the episode titled "Vegas, Vegas".
  • In 1991, he played an opposing counsel in an episode of the TV series L.A. Law.
  • Newton made several guest appearances in the TV series Las Vegas.
  • In 1995, Newton played the manager of a Las Vegas casino in the TV series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the episode titled "Viva Lost Wages".
  • Also in 1995, Newton appeared in a CBS TV special about the then-upcoming film Die Hard with a Vengeance, along with rapper Ice-T, basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
  • Newton also appeared on an episode of the TV series That '70s Show.
  • Newton appeared as himself on NBC's The Pretender in the episode "Cold Dick" in 2000.
  • Newton appeared on MTV's reality show Pimp My Ride.
  • Newton appeared on My Wife and Kids.
  • Newton appeared on an episode of 7th Heaven titled "Wayne's World".
  • Newton appeared in an episode of Kingdom Hospital titled "On the Third Day" as maintenance man Jack Handlemann.
  • Newton also had a guest appearance on one of the episodes in the Perfect Strangers series which ended its run in 1993.
  • The Entertainer a short-lived reality competition series hosted by Wayne Newton that aired on the E! network in 2005.
  • Dancing with the Stars (US Season 5) (2007) (Contestant)
  • The Price is Right (2007) in which he made a guest appearance for a contestant to win a trip to Las Vegas, but lost the game.
  • Celebrity Family Feud (US Season 1, 2008) (Contestant)
  • Newton was featured in the final leg of Season 15 of the hit CBS reality TV game show The Amazing Race. The Finish Line was at his house.
  • The Apprentice (2013)

Video games

  • Fallout: New Vegas (2010) Newton stars as the voice of Mr. New Vegas, a programmed DJ of an in-game radio station: Radio New Vegas.


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External links