Courtesy Wayne Newton Museum
Wednesday, July 20, 2011 | 12:54 p.m.
- Premiere broadcast: Wayne Newton and Holly Madison
The thing about Wayne Newton is, he is known as “Mr. Las Vegas,” but he could be the “Mister” of wherever he is. “Mr. Bigfork” or “Mr. Polson” or “Mr. Whitefish.” “Mr. Montana,” even. He sort of takes over the scene, be it a breakfast nook in a lakeside village or an entire municipality.
I visited with the Newtons near Flathead Lake in the upper-nether-western region of Montana, a stone’s skip from Glacier Park near the U.S.-Canada border (a reminder that Canada is not, in fact, a state). Very early Monday morning, I returned from an extended vacation to the majestic Flathead Valley and the townships ringing the massive body of water that is Flathead Lake. Tricia McCrone, my dear friend and radio co-host on “Kats With the Dish,” set up the retreat-of-sorts, and we were joined by friends (including novice outdoors woman Alicia Jacobs), Newton family members and a few dogs.
I think there were 36 dogs, actually. Many dogs.
I’d never been to that area of Montana before, but it does remind a lot of some of the more picturesque regions of Idaho, particularly Redfish Lake near Stanley. Stanley, of course, is next to Oliver, and that is something of a laurel and hearty reference that might have been inspired by “Blazing Saddles.”
Where were we? Oh, Newton’s knighting in Los Angeles.
True. Mr. Las Vegas left Montana midweek for Vegas for a quick check-in at Casa de Shenandoah, then flew to Los Angeles to be knighted into the American Delegation of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George. The ceremony was held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
The honor is bestowed by the far-reaching philanthropic arm of the Roman Catholic Church. Those recognized are often big-hearted and high-profile individuals, such as charitable star entertainers who are unofficially named for major metropolitan cities.
The organization is more commonly referred to as the American Delegation, and as its official web site stresses, “The American Delegation exists to actively support philanthropic activities, particularly those traditionally supported by the Order, namely the propagation of the Roman Catholic Faith and charitable relief to the poor.” Newton is widely recognized for his involvement in organizing USO tours to combat regions, but he also performs ample off-the-grid charity work that no one ever hears about.
The knighting ceremony was conducted by His Eminence Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick of Washington, D.C. Also on hand was newly crowned-and-sashed Miss Nevada America Alana Lee. Her presence at a Roman Catholic knighting would seem something of an oddity, except that Lee was filming a segment for a documentary that will be part of the public tour of the 42-acre Newton residence long known as Casa de Shenandoah.
The estate-as-attraction on Sunset and Pecos should be open by the end of the year. Along with all the animals and wildlife the ranch offers, on display will be such personal items as a makeup case and watch owned by Nat King Cole, guitars from Johnny Cash that once belonged to Elvis Presley, and a microphone given to Newton by Francis Albert Sinatra.
And maybe they can clear off some space on the shelf for a sword, a challis and some pebbles to skip across Flathead Lake.