Now 81, Wayne Newton Will Soon Mark 65 Years as Mr. Las Vegas (2024)

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  • Wayne Newton Today: Extending Las Vegas Residency to 65 Years
  • Who Is Wayne Newton?
  • Quick Facts
  • Early Years
  • Solo Success
  • Legal Troubles
  • Television and Movie Work
  • Approaching 65 Years in Las Vegas
  • Personal Life: Wife, Daughters, and Casa de Shenandoah

Wayne Newton Today: Extending Las Vegas Residency to 65 Years

Mr. Las Vegas plans to mark his 65th anniversary as a Sin City performer, fittingly, on the stage. Singer Wayne Newton announced the extension of his Up Close and Personal residency at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino on August 29 as a guest on the Today show. The 62 new performance dates span January 13 through June 12. The 81-year-old first took a Vegas stage with his brother in May 1959.

Who Is Wayne Newton?

Wayne Newton started singing professionally as a child. In his teenage years, he performed with his older brother, Jerry. Newton became a solo performer in the early 1960s and scored such hits as “Danke Schoen” and “Red Roses for a Blue Lady.” For the next several decades, Newton established himself as one of Las Vegas’ most popular and highest-paid performers. Dubbed Mr. Las Vegas, he continues to perform and tour.

Quick Facts

FULL NAME: Carson Wayne Newton
BORN: April 3, 1942
BIRTHPLACE: Norfolk, Virginia
SPOUSES: Elaine Okamura (1968-1985) and Kathleen Newton (1994-present)
CHILDREN: Erin and Lauren

Early Years

Carson Wayne Newton was born April 3, 1942, in Norfolk, Virginia, and spent the first part of his childhood in Roanoke and later Newark, Ohio. His father worked as a mechanic, and his mother stayed home to raise their two children. Both of his parents had Native American roots—Cherokee on his mother’s side and Powahatan on his father’s side.

Newton started his professional singing career at the age of 6. He first found inspiration for his lifelong occupation after watching Kitty Wells and Hank Williams perform. Before long, Newton and his older brother, Jerry, toured in a Grand Ole Opry traveling show. He also performed his own daily radio station on a local station. A gifted musician as well, Newton taught himself to play several instruments, including piano, banjo, and guitar. He plays 13 instruments in total.

Plagued by asthma, a 10-year-old Newton moved with his family to Phoenix, because the climate there was better for his health. He continued to perform in his new city, making appearances on a local television station. Newton even had his own program for a time. During his junior year of high school, in 1959, he landed a gig in Las Vegas at the Fremont Hotel & Casino with Jerry. Initially hired for two weeks, the Newton brothers performed there for nearly a year. He had also landed appearances on The Jackie Gleason Show and even served as an opening act for Jack Benny. Audiences really seemed to take to the baby-faced singer with a soprano voice.

Solo Success

In 1962, singer Bobby Darin took Newton under his wing and helped him launch his solo career. Newton made it into the Top 20 with “Danke Schoen” the following year. In 1965, Newton hit the charts with another up-tempo ballad “Red Roses for a Blue Lady.” And his last major single came in 1972 with “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast.” By this time, he had grown his trademark pencil-thin moustache, jazzed up his on-stage look, and shifted his vocal range a bit lower.

While he later dropped off the charts, Newton enjoyed great success as an entertainer. He continued to perform in Las Vegas and to make guest appearances on television variety shows. For a time, Newton was the highest-paid act in Las Vegas. He remains a popular concert performer, playing gigs around the country. A supporter of the U.S. military, Newton has participated in numerous USO tours to entertain the troops.

Legal Troubles

In the early 1980s, NBC News ran several news reports on Newton, claiming that he had ties to organized crime. It was also reported that Newton had become a part owner of the Aladdin hotel and casino with funds from the mob. He was also allegedly an associate of two members of the Gambino crime family.

Newton sued the news network for libel, claiming the reports were false and had damaged his reputation and his business. In 1986, Newton won a $19 million settlement, later reduced to over $5 million. A federal appeals court, however, overturned the ruling in 1990, and Newton tried to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court rejected Newton’s appeal the following year.

In 1992, Newton experienced another legal challenge. He ended up declaring bankruptcy, claiming to have $20 million in debt. Later in the decade, Newton also engaged in a legal battle with singer Tony Orlando over a theater in Branson, Missouri, that the pair once shared.

Television and Movie Work

For the part, Newton has often been asked to play himself, the quintessential cabaret performer, on television and in movies. Sometimes, however, he has been able to take on a different role. On the big screen, Newton played an evangelist in the 1989 James Bond film License to Kill starring Timothy Dalton. He also appeared in comic Andrew Dice Clay’s The Adventures of Ford Fairlane the following year. Also that year, Newton’s first major hit, “Danke Schoen,” enjoyed some renewed popularity. Actor Matthew Broderick lip-synched the song during a scene in the hit comedy Ferris Bueller.

More recently, Newton has tackled the world of reality television. He launched his own reality competition, The Entertainer, in 2005, to find the next great Las Vegas act. Two years later, Newton showed off his moves on Dancing with the Stars, competing against the likes of actor Jane Seymour and singer Marie Osmond. He experienced some heart problems around the time he appeared on the show and curtail his activities for health reasons for a time.

Approaching 65 Years in Las Vegas

Newton, now in his 80s, continues to perform in his Las Vegas residency. To date, he has entertained tens of millions of people during more than 50,000 appearances, according to the Today show. In August 2023, Newton announced he is extending his residency at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino through June 2024. The singer will celebrate his 65th anniversary as a Vegas performer in May. “I don’t want to quit,” Newton told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I would have to get a real job.”

Personal Life: Wife, Daughters, and Casa de Shenandoah

Newton lives in Las Vegas with his second wife, Kathleen, and their daughter, Lauren. He has a daughter named Erin from his first marriage to Elaine Okamura.

Set on more than 36 acres, Casa de Shenandoah was Newton’s well-known lavish home for decades. The singer had several houses and a horse stable built on the property, which was occasionally compared to Elvis Presley’s Graceland. Newton raised Arabian horses there for decades. In 2010, he sold the property for a reported $19.5 million, which became a tourist attraction for three years. Visitors could tour the grounds and view a collection of his mementos. Newton initially had a minority stake in the company operating the attraction. After it closed to the public, the property sold again.

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Now 81, Wayne Newton Will Soon Mark 65 Years as Mr. Las Vegas (2024)
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