Friday, March 21, 1997 | 11:59 a.m.
Everyone needs someone, someone to be there for them at the right time. ... Wayne Newton, currently in the MGM Grand Hollywood Theatre through April 2, can attest to this. ... Newton owns all the Las Vegas records for number of weeks played, hours on stage and total attendance. ... For nearly two decades, he averaged 40 weeks a year here, seven days a week, two shows a night, no empty seats.
His early shows would run at least two hours, and the late ones often lasted three hours or more. ... During the period from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s, Newton in town was like a second convention.
What Sinatra and the Rat Pack were to the 1950s and 1960s, Newton was in the 1970s and 1980s. ... Sinatra is the all-time champ in casino action, but Newton's numbers for total weeks, hours and attendance will never be challenged in the future.
Master hotelier Ed Torres gave the teenage Newton Brothers, Wayne and Jerry, their first Las Vegas opportunity, in the Fremont Lounge, working six nights a week, six hours a night, 45 minutes on and 15 off. ... Torres was tough, a strict disciplinarian; Wayne learned well under Torres' tutelage. ... Torres was the first "someone."
Comedian Jackie Gleason gave the brothers their first national television exposure. ... This included a date in the famed New York City Copa lounge. ... It was there that superstar-in-the-making Bobby Darin discovered the Newtons.
Darin was riding the top of the charts with his recording of "Mack, The Knife, still featured on radio and jukeboxes today. ... Darin gave Wayne the song that was intended for his follow-up release, "Danke Schoen." ... Darin actually produced the date for Newton.
Down to date
Gleason was the first fellow artist to recognize Wayne's immense potential; Darin was the second. ... It was Darin who suggested changing the act's name to "Wayne Newton." ... The late Jack Benny was the third to do so, giving Wayne his first main showroom break. ... Benny also featured Newton on his television show, as did Lucille Ball and others.
Howard Hughes bought the Desert Inn, Frontier and Sands in addition to completing the Landmark. ... He brought in talent impresario Walter Kane to oversee entertainment. ... Kane became Newton's next "someone," leading to those halcyon Hughes hotel years.
Hughes died, Kane expired in 1982, the Hughes hotels were sold off. ... Wayne went on to successful runs at Caesars Palace, the Las Vegas Hilton and Bally's before becoming a MGM Grand regular. ... His other performing "home" is now Branson, Mo.
Today, in Branson, Newton alternates with Tony Orlando in the Yellow Ribbon Theatre. ... The day after he finishes his MGM Grand stint, he celebrates his 55th birthday. ... Trivia: Newton and Orlando share the same natal date, April 3; Tony is two years younger. ... Las Vegas made Wayne Newton; no single performer has done more to make Las Vegas the success story it has become. ... See you next Thursday.