Wayne Newton began his career as a traditional young singer of popular music, but he ultimately veered into an identity as “Mr. Las Vegas,” a dominant force in high-stakes Vegas showrooms. Since the early '70s, he has earned millions as a top marquee name with dependable drawing power in the Nevada resort town.
He learned to play guitar and piano as a young child, and he began performing early. As a first-grader, Newton was part of a USO concert for President Truman. The family moved to Phoenix, where Newton and his older brother, Jerry, performed as the duo Rascals in Rhythm. A talent agent spotted them and brought the Newtons to Las Vegas for a booking at the Fremont Hotel that began in 1959 and lasted five years.
In 1962, the brothers made the first of many appearances on “The Jackie Gleason Show.” That same year, Newton released what became his signature tune, “Danke Schoen,” produced by Bobby Darin. He then reached No. 4 on the Billbaord pop chart with 1972's “Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast.” Other hits included “Summer Wind” and “Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife.” His brother retired in 1970.
As solo act, Newton continued to tour sporadically, but spent most of his days in Las Vegas. He has performed at the Flamingo, the Tropicana, was briefly a co-owner of the Aladdin Hotel and in 1999 signed a then-unprecedented 10-year contract to perform at the Stardust (interrupted when the hotel and casino were demolished in 2005).
Newton frequently made time for acting jobs, with appearances in the films “Ocean's 11,” “Licence to Kill” and “Vegas Vacation,” and television roles on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” “Ellen” and “Bonanza,” among others. And in 2005, he starred in the reality show “The Entertainer” for E! Entertainment Television.
Since the Vietnam War, Newton has traveled overseas to perform at USO-sponsored concerts. At the end of 2000, he was asked to take Bob Hope's traditional position as chairman of the USO Celebrity Circle.
He got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1976.