Wayne Newton

Active - 1965 - 2011  |   Born - Apr 3, 1942 in Roanoke, VA  |   Genres - Comedy, Action, Crime, Drama, Western

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Aptly nicknamed "Mr. Vegas" for his constant presence in Glitter Gulch, master showman Wayne Newton swept audiences off their feet for many a decade with a slick crooning style modeled upon such influences as Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin (one of Newton's personal mentors). Newton distinguished himself, however -- at least in the early years -- via his unusually high vocal register and his choice of material; he took such numbers as "Red Roses for a Blue Lady" and the seminal "Danke Schoen" and made them synonymous with himself. In his prime, Newton reportedly commandeered up to a million dollars per month for his live shows (to say nothing of his recordings), and bought up a healthy amount of property in Las Vegas, including the Aladdin Casino.

Cinematically, Newton debuted on an absurd note, with the lead role in the critically reviled Gerd Oswald musical 80 Steps to Jonah (1969) -- playing a convict on the lam who flees from the law and ends up at a camp for blind children. That picture bombed, effectively convincing Newton to place a greater emphasis on singing than acting, but by the early '90s, he began cropping up in Hollywood films once again, this time with more respectable cameo roles in such films as The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990), Vegas Vacation (1997), and Ocean's Eleven (2001). In the fall of 2007, the ABC network tapped Newton to perform as one of the celebrity dancers on the fifth season of its competitive reality series Dancing with the Stars, opposite dancer Cheryl Burke.

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Factsheet

  • Father was Powhatan Indian and Irish; mother was Cherokee Indian and German.
  • Originally performed as part of duet with his older brother Jerry.
  • Discovered by Jackie Gleason at a Phoenix luncheon; Gleason put the brothers on TV in 1962, and Newton appeared on Gleason's variety show several more times.
  • Nicknamed "Mr. Las Vegas" for appearing in thousands of shows in Sin City casinos.
  • Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport's main thoroughfare is named "Wayne Newton Boulevard."
  • Signed one of the biggest contracts in entertainment history in 1999 with the Stardust Resort and Casino.
  • Received the Lifetime Achievement award from the Arabian Horse Breeders Alliance in 2007.
  • Signature song is "Danke Schoen."