Wayne Newton

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Wayne Newton
Wayne Newton in Washington D.C.jpg
Newton in 2001
Background information
Birth nameCarson Wayne Newton
Also known asMr. Las Vegas, The Midnight Idol, Mr. Entertainment, Mr. New Vegas
Born (1942-04-03) April 3, 1942 (age 78)
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
Genres Jazz, pop
Occupation(s)Singer, actor
InstrumentsVocals
Years active1959–present
Website waynenewton.com

Carson Wayne Newton (born April 3, 1942) is an American singer and actor. 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). His signature song "Danke Schoen" (1963) was notably used in the score for Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986).

Contents

Early years

He was born Carson Wayne Newton [2] in Norfolk, Virginia, to Patrick Newton, an auto mechanic, and his wife, Evelyn Marie "Smith" (née Plasters). [3] [4] [5] He is of Irish, German, and Native American ancestry (his mother is half Cherokee and his father is half Powhatan). [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. [7]

While he was 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 Newton's severe asthma, his family moved to Phoenix in 1952, where he left North High School just before finishing his junior year. [2] [8] [9] The brothers, as the Rascals in Rhythm, appeared with the Grand Ole Opry roadshows and on ABC-TV's Ozark Jubilee ; and performed in front of then-president Dwight D. Eisenhower [10] and auditioned unsuccessfully for Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour .

In the spring of 1958, near the end of his junior year of high school, a Las Vegas booking agent saw Newton on 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 . Wayne would perform on Gleason's show 12 times over the following two years. In the early to mid-1960s, he also acted and sang as "Andy" the baby-faced Ponderosa ranch hand on the classic western TV series, Bonanza .

By 1963, Newton had been signed to Capitol Records, and his first album was released on the label. His hit "Danke Schoen" reached no. 13 on the Hot 100.

Career as an entertainer

Many prominent entertainment icons such as Lucille 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. [11] 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. [12] The song peaked at number 1 in Australia in June 1972, while the album of the same name peaked at number 25 on the album charts. [13] Influential music director Rosalie Trombley of Canadian station CKLW "The Big 8" radio in the Detroit-Windsor 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.

Newton's "distinctive high-pitched voice stayed with him as he progressed from teen singer to Las Vegas legend," although his voice did lower somewhat in the 1970s and 1980s. [14]

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. [15] [16] 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. [16] 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. [16] [17] Newton entered the Independence Day stage on the Mall on July 4, 1983, to mostly cheering members of the audience, but some members booed. [18]

On May 23, 1989, Newton's live stage show was broadcast as a pay-per-view event called Wayne Newton Live in Concert . Newton did not perform his trademark songs "Danke Schoen" or "Red Roses for a Blue Lady". However, he closed 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". [19] 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. [20]

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

In 1994, he 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. [21] 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 performed at the Stardust until the resort closed on November 1, 2006.

Newton was elected to the Gaming Hall of Fame in 2000. [22]

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. Tommy Franks Wayne Newton.jpg
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. [23] 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 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." [24] [25]

However, in 1993, Newton first told the story on Late Night with Conan O'Brien but disclosed that he actually had slapped Carson, a detail he would leave out of the King interview 14 years later. [26]

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 then newest show "Once Before I Go" at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. [27] A year later he took a 5-year hiatus to spend time with his family and prepare his voice for a future Las Vegas residency. In 2016, Newton returned to the stage at Bally's Hotel in the form of a lounge show called "Up Close & Personal", a combination of live singing, playing some of the 13 self-taught instruments (having learned in the past to give his voice a rest when performing 6 shows a night at the Fremont Hotel), and showing movie and TV clips on screen.

After performing more than 30,000 shows on the Las Vegas strip, Newton is scheduled to perform a number of shows celebrating his 60th year of performing in Las Vegas. The show, titled Mr. Las Vegas will be held at Caesars Palace casino-resort from Monday, January 28, 2019 through May. Newton told the Associated Press, “It's hard for me to articulate, much less think about it,” referring to the anniversary. “I was here when Caesars (Palace) was built. This hotel for me has always represented the flagship of the Strip.” [28]

In June 2020, Newton was seen on television commercials in North America as a spokesperson for Caesars Entertainment. Newton was promoting the reopening of Caesars Entertainment resorts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Family

In 1968, Newton married Elaine Okamura. They have one child, Erin Newton, born July 25, 1976; they divorced in 1985. In 1994, Newton married Kathleen McCrone, a lawyer from North Olmsted, Ohio. The couple have 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." [29] 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. [30] 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. [29] He first came to the attention of Arabian breeders in 1969 when he partnered with Tom Chauncey, an Arabian breeder and television station owner, to purchase the stallion Naborr from the estate of Anne McCormick. [31] They paid $150,000, which at the time was the highest price ever paid for an Arabian horse at auction. [32] 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. [31]

Newton was given the Arabian Horse Breeders' Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. [31] 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. [29]

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. [33]

In 1985, Newton bought a 213-acre property at Lake Tahoe near Zephyr Cove, Nevada. He tried to get authorization to build a subdivision on the land. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency did not approve the subdivision plans. They sued Newton and won, stopping Newton's plans. [34]

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 tax lien. By 1999, he was financially well off again. [35]

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." [36]

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. [36] 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. [37] The plane has since been disassembled, transported, and reassembled on his estate grounds. [38]

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. [39]

In another 2009 lawsuit, he was accused of owing GMAC $36,999 for a lease on a Cadillac. The suit was ultimately dropped. [39]

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 sought foreclosure of Newton's Las Vegas ranch Casa de Shenandoah. [40]

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 determine 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 increasing by $126.86 per day. [39]

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 had 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. [41] The case was set to go to trial in May 2013. [42]

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 $50.8 million. [43] 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. [44] On April 26, 2018, the property hosted its last public event before closing indefinitely for renovations. [45]

Charitable causes

Newton featured 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, [46] [47] [48] 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. [49] [50]

Discography

Albums

  • Danke Schoen (Capitol, 1963)
  • Sings Hit Songs (Capitol, 1964)
  • In Person! (Capitol, 1964)
  • Red Roses for a Blue Lady (Capitol, 1965)
  • Summer Wind (Capitol, 1965)
  • The Old Rugged Cross (Capitol, 1966)
  • Now! (Capitol, 1966)
  • Songs for a Merry Christmas (Capitol, 1966)
  • It's Only the Good Times (Capitol, 1967)
  • Song of the Year – Wayne Newton Style (Capitol, 1967)
  • Michelle (Capitol, 1967)
  • Wow!: Live Hollywood Concert (Capitol, 1968)
  • God Is Alive (Capitol, 1968)
  • The Greatest! (Capitol, 1968)
  • Somewhere My Love (Capitol, 1968)
  • "Dreams of the Everyday Housewife" and "Town & Country" (MGM, 1968)
  • One More Time (MGM, 1968)
  • Walking on New Grass (MGM, 1968)
  • Wayne Newton's Songs of Faith (MGM, 1968)
  • Christmas Isn't Christmas Without You (MGM, 1968)
  • Live at the Frontier, Las Vegas (MGM, 1969)
  • Everything's in Love Today (MGM, 1969)
  • The Long and Winding Road (Capitol, 1970)
  • Merry Christmas to You (Capitol, 1970)
  • How I Got This Way (Capitol, 1971)
  • Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast (Chelsea, 1972)
  • Can't You Hear the Song? (Chelsea, 1972)
  • Only Believe (Word, 1972)
  • While We're Still Young (Chelsea, 1973)
  • Pour Me a Little More Wine (Chelsea, 1973)
  • Just a Closer Walk (Word, 1973)
  • Everybody Knows (RCA Camden, 1974)
  • The Best of Wayne Newton Live (Chelsea, 1974)
  • The Midnight Idol (Chelsea, 1975)
  • Tomorrow (Chelsea, 1976)
  • Christmas Everywhere (Chelsea, 1976)
  • Change of Heart (20th Century Fox, 1978)
  • Wayne Newton Live! (Musicor, 1978)
  • She Believes in Me (Aries II, 1979)
  • Night Eagle I (Aries II, 1979)
  • Coming Home (Curb, 1989)
  • The Best Of Wayne Newton Now (Curb, 1990)
  • Moods & Moments (Curb, 1992)

Singles

YearSingleChart positions
US CB US
AC
US Country CAN CAN
AC
1963"Heart! (I Hear You Beating)"(with the Newton Brothers)8264
"Danke Schoen"(with the Newton Brothers)13123
"Shirl Girl"(with the Newton Brothers)587418
1964"I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover"123
"The Little White Cloud That Cried"99
"Only You"122119
1965"Comin' On Too Strong"65114
"Red Roses for a Blue Lady"231843
"I'll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time"527617
"Summer Wind"78869166
"Remember When (We Made These Memories)"698715
"Some Sunday Morning"123962315
1966"After the Laughter"123
"Laura Lee"144
"Stagecoach to Cheyenne"1131482360
"Games That Lovers Play"869722
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"10633
1968"All the Time"13426
"Remembering"128
"Dreams of the Everyday Housewife"60581428
"Husbands and Wives"9728
1969"(I Guess) the Lord Must Be in New York City"28
1972"Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast"(gold record) [12] 4135511
"Can't You Hear the Song?"48383328
"Anthem"654553
1973"Pour Me a Little More Wine"10726
"While We're Young"107
1974"Help Me, Help You"67
"Lady Lay"101834737
1976"The Hungry Years"828111
1979"You Stepped Into My Life"9091
"I Apologize"45
1980"Years"353240
1989"While the Feeling's Good"(with Tammy Wynette)63
1992"The Letter"1

Filmography

Film

Television

Video games

Newton stars as the voice of Mr. New Vegas, the DJ of Radio New Vegas, an in-game radio station.

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