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Who Is Wayne Newton?

by James HargroveJune 21, 2022
Who Is Wayne Newton?

Wayne Newton began his professional singing career as a kid. During his adolescence, he performed with his elder brother. In the early 1960s, Newton became a solo artist and achieved singles such as "Danke Schoen" and "Red Roses for a Blue Lady." Newton established himself as one of Las Vegas's most popular and highest-paid acts during the following few decades.

Early Years

The majority of Wayne Newton's boyhood was spent in Virginia. His father was a mechanic, while his mother stayed at home to raise the couple's two children. Both of his parents had Native American ancestry; his mother was Cherokee and his father was Powahatan.

At age six, Newton began his professional singing career. After observing Kitty Wells and Hank Williams perform, he initially got the inspiration for his lifetime career. Before long, Newton and his elder brother Jerry were touring with the Grand Ole Opry. He also had a daily radio program on a local station. Newton was also a talented musician, having trained himself to play the piano, banjo, and guitar.

With asthma, ten-year-old Newton and his family relocated to Phoenix, Arizona, since the environment there was healthier for him. He continued to act in his new city, making televised appearances on local channels. Newton once even had his own program. During his junior year of high school, he and his brother Jerry performed at the Fremont Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The Newton brothers were initially recruited for two weeks, but they remained for over a year. He has also been on The Jackie Gleason Show and even acted as Jack Benny's opening act. Audiences appeared to genuinely enjoy the soprano-voiced vocalist with a babyface.

Solo Success

In 1962, Bobby Darin assisted Newton in launching his solo career. Newton entered the Top 20 the next year with "Danke Schoen." In 1965, Newton topped the charts with "Red Roses for a Blue Lady," a fast-paced song. And his last significant single, "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast," was released in 1972. By this time, he had grown his signature pencil-thin mustache, enhanced his on-stage appearance, and lowered his vocal range.

Newton had enormous success as a performer, despite his eventual decline from the charts. He continued to perform in Las Vegas and appear on television variety shows as a special guest. Newton was formerly the highest-paid performer in Las Vegas. He continues to be a famous concert performer, performing performances around the nation. Newton, a supporter of the United States military, has taken part in multiple USO tours to amuse the troops.

Legal Troubles

Early in the 1980s, NBC News published many articles alleging that Newton had links to organized crime. It was also stated that Newton had acquired a stake in the Aladdin hotel and casino using mafia finances. Moreover, he was allegedly acquainted with two members of the Gambino criminal family.

Newton sued the news network for libel, alleging the misleading claims had hurt his company and reputation. In 1986, Newton was awarded a settlement of $19 million, which was ultimately reduced to over $5 million. In 1990, however, a federal appeals court reversed the decision, and Newton attempted to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court denied Newton's appeal the year after.

In 1992, Newton had another legal difficulty. He ultimately filed for bankruptcy, claiming $20 million in debt. Newton was involved in a court struggle with singer Tony Orlando over a theatre they formerly shared in Branson, Missouri, later in the decade.

Television and Film Activities

On television and in films, Newton has frequently been requested to portray himself, as the archetypal cabaret artist. Occasionally, he has been allowed to assume a different position. Newton portrayed a preacher on the big screen in the 1989 James Bond film License to Kill starring Timothy Dalton. The next year, he also starred in Andrew Dice Clay's The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. In the same year, Newton's first huge song, "Danke Schoen," saw a resurgence in popularity. During a sequence in the popular comedy Ferris Bueller, Matthew Broderick lip-synced the song.

Newton has just entered the realm of reality television. In 2005, he started The Entertainer, his own reality competition, to uncover the next great Las Vegas talent. Newton demonstrated his dance skills on Dancing with the Stars two years later, battling against Jane Seymour and Marie Osmond. He had heart difficulties around the time he appeared on the show and was forced to stop his activities for a spell.

Personal Life

Newton resides with his second wife Kathleen and their daughter Lauren in Las Vegas. His daughter Erin is the result of his first marriage to Elaine Okamura.

In 2012, Casa de Shenandoah, Newton's opulent mansion situated on more than 50 acres, is anticipated to open to the public. The grounds and his collection of keepsakes are accessible to visitors. There, in Newton, Arabian horses have been raised for decades.

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