Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2017

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Readers’ Memories of Wayne Newton


Courtesy Photo

Wayne Newton in performance.

As part of our blowout coverage of Wayne Newton, we asked our readers for their favorite memories of Mr. Las Vegas. Here they are:

We had tickets for a Wayne Newton show. My spouse thought the show started at 8 when it really started at 5. While at dinner (at the restaurant connected to the theater) prior to the show, when we told the waitress we were going to the 8 p.m. show, she informed us the show was at 5 and was almost over. She then called the theater and arranged a backstage handshake with Mr. Las Vegas after the show! We were overwhelmed. Wayne is such a gentleman. And he had his beautiful young daughter with him. It was just fantastic. We'll never forget him. — Juanita


Wayne, you've never forgotten traditional values as an American and as a genuine decent individual. I remember seeing you in Vietnam. I salute you. — Stephen


Wayne Newton

Wayne Newton performs the opening number during the grand opening night of Wayne Newton's Launch slideshow »

My wife and I are in our 40s, from Long Island, and can't wait to see him in Las Vegas. He is the true history of Vegas. We'll be there soon. Keep it going. — Moore


I had the opportunity to see Wayne Newton many times over the years, in Las Vegas and at multiple venues throughout the greater Boston area. The one that stands out for me occurred August 29th, 1991, at the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset, Massachusetts. That night, I saw the show with my sister Elaine; my other sister Kathy and her husband, Hal; and my mom. Wayne was on fire that night, and he did so many requests from the audience — something I had rarely seen him do.

The orchestra was crazy, flipping through music to keep up with him. He performed for nearly 2.5 hours before exiting the stage. As I said, this performance stands out for me because so much of it was unrehearsed and spontaneous. However, it was particularly poignant because a mere 30 days later, on September 29th, my sister Elaine passed away after a brief 12-day battle with leukemia. She was 100-percent healthy on August 29th and dead on September 29th. This was the last time my sisters saw one another, and it was our last night together before her death. It also turned out to be Wayne's last appearance in the Cohasset venue. I sent him a letter about my sister's death and told him how much she loved him and his performance, how it was the last time we all were together before her untimely passing, and how thankful we were to have enjoyed such a wonderful evening in the presence of such a master showman. I don't know if he ever read my letter, but it was important to let him know how special that night was for us. Danke Schoen, Wayne, and Godspeed!! — David


My hubby and I visit Las Vegas two or three times a year. I am a huge Steve Wynn fan, so we saved up and splurged and booked the last half of opening week at the Wynn hotel when it first opened. We upgraded to the "Tower" section (a special treat), and there were quite a few notables in town that week. There were several elevator rides with various celebs, where they mostly tried to look away or at best nodded a quick hello before staring at the ceiling. However, it was a very different story with Wayne Newton and I now understand fully why he has maintained such a successful career for so many years.

I was waiting by myself in the elevator lobby when Wayne and, I think (based on the conversation they were having) a very famous photographer rounded the corner and waited with me. The photographer was not interested in acknowledging me at all and was talking a mile a minute to Wayne about some of the people he had been shooting. I could see Wayne starting to look uncomfortable and noticed he was waiting for a break in the conversation.

He finally stopped the guy, looked over at me, smiled a huge smile and said, "Hello, how are you today"? He continued a conversation with me all the way to my stop on the 52nd floor. When I got out of the elevator and the doors closed behind me, I actually did a "Vegas Vacation" swoon. I couldn't believe it. I've never been one to be impressed by people because of their celebrity, and my husband roared with laughter when I arrived at our room all "a-flutter." I'm 48 and it was my parents who used to talk about Wayne Newton, so I wasn't a fan before. My only familiarity with Wayne Newton is from "Vegas Vacation." What an incredibly polite and charismatic man he is. I now have a total Wayne crush. — Susan


Years ago myself and my daughter were out at the Broadacres Swap Meet and saw Wayne and one of his bodyguards. My daughter has always loved Wayne, and we went over to say hi. He was so gracious and kind, and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing him outside of the normal trappings of a theatre. — Linda


I remember watching Wayne and Jerry Newton at the old Fox Theater in Phoenix on the Lew King Ranger Show. Saturday morning admission was six Pepsi-Cola bottle caps. In addition to the brothers, there were cartoons and a serial movie. — Name withheld


In late 1961, while I was stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base, I went to a stage show at the Park Hotel in downtown Great Falls, Montana. The show featured the Newton Brothers. After each song one of the brothers would refer to the other by saying, "Wayne Newton, folks, Wayne Newton." They were good performers/singers and I'll admit I never forgot the name Wayne Newton!! — Ed


Back in the early '90s, I would say, I was at Wayne's show at Resorts in Atlantic City. I put a "dancing flower" on the table. Wayne, with his wonderful personality, came to the table and put the flower on the piano and was singing to it while it dance. The whole audience was in stitches! Just one of many great memories!

My other best memory is at the MGM at the meet-and-greet after the show. Wayne was so kind to myself and my dad, who has terminal cancer. My dad will never forget his kind words, and I will never forget that KISS, for the cameras! We love you, Wayne! -- Donna


Oh man, I was a pale Midwestern kid of 16 and starting on my own performing career when before our trip to Vegas (my first) I wrote Mr. Newton at the Sands. When we returned from Hoover Dam, there was a message on our hotel phone from his assistant (having read his autobiography, I knew who she was). Long story longer, as the band vamped his opening number Mr. Newton met my mother and me backstage getting photos and an autograph not to mention dead-center, ringside seats. Nobody really talks about what a positive influence a celeb Mr. Newton has been. He even sold me on UNLV. Here's to another 50 years! -- Keith


I remember about five years ago when Wayne was performing at the Stardust, I took my 24-year-old daughter to his show. We had seen him many times and love him. He sent a bottle of champagne to our table that night, and my daughter scribbled a "thank you" on a napkin, but the end of the show was coming and she didn't get a chance to give him the note. Before I knew it she leaped over the wall we were behind, all 5'11" of her, and ran up ON the stage as he sang his dramatic exit song, "McArthur Park". His back was turned to go up the staircase, dry ice fogging the dramatic atmosphere. There was my daughter kneeling behind him with her thank-you note. He turned around, grabbed her, hugged her and kindly walked her back to her seat. Then he continued up the staircase, and you could see his shoulders jiggling as he chuckled. The audience loved it, but security did not. Ha! I have it all captured in photos. -- Guyla


I knew Wayne many many many many years ago when he was performing at Lenny Luxenbergs place in Cleveland. I worked there and we would chat after the shows. A perfect and decent gentleman. Still a fan 30-to-40 years later and will be at his show this Saturday Nov. 21. -- Joyce


Wayne came to my daughter's rescue about 25 years ago when her old Appaloosa horse, Thunder, died during Christmas vacation. We were out of town at my in-law's in California when the ranch caretaker called with the bad news. Our daughter was only 7 at the time and loved her Thunder to death. We had purchased a saddle, saddle pad, reins, bit, boots, riding outfit for our daughter as well as other essentials needed for riding. Thunder died of colic with no chance of survival on a cold winter's night right after Christmas and before New Year's. Our daughter was so excited to tell everyone of her gifts and what they were for. My wife and I knew we had to break the news gently before heading home. It was the hardest of all conversations between parent and child.

Sadness overtook our daughter and she withdrew into a shell. She visited Thunder's stall to pick hairs from his mane that were stuck to the corral and put them into her scrapbook. She remained withdrawn and quiet for about three weeks when out of the blue, guess who called after hearing the sad news? Wayne Newton himself, who talked to my wife about inviting our daughter to his house to see some of his magnificent Arabian horses. Arrangements were made that in a week we would go to Wayne's.

We piled into our ancient Buick and drove to Wayne's home where we were greeted by security and a plethora of Rolls Royces, Cadillacs, Lincolns as well as busloads of people who mingled about the manicured lawns. We were escorted to the show barns where Wayne kept his prized horses by his trainer, Alfredo Ortega. A man in old jeans, a pair of beat-up boots, a western shirt and cowboy hat came up and asked our daughter if she were Melissa. It was Wayne as he walked his barns daily to check on his horses and apologized to us for his dress. Our daughter smiled for the first time in weeks when Wayne took her by the hand and slowly walked the aisles of his barns, showing every horse, filly, colt and stallion. He let her pet the horses and told Melissa that he was present for every birth of each horse and named each one beginning with his initials, WN. He politely excused himself to get ready for the planned party he had arranged for a special guest of honor yet to arrive he explained.

My wife. Melissa and myself were given the king's tour of Wayne's estate complete with the collection of automobiles. The party began with live music from Hank Williams Jr. and his 'Bama Band. Food and drinks galore were everywhere. After a bit of socializing, Wayne stood center arena and brought out eight horses he was presenting in the prestigious Scottsdale All Arabian Horse Show in Arizona. He told the history of each horse, the breeding and why the horse was entered. Each horse came in with fanfare and excitement that only Arabians can do. The spectator's blood pumped with speed as each horse showed why they were named "Drinker's of the Wind". Wayne was in the middle of the arena as each horse tore passed him at breakneck speed.

After the eighth horse was presented, the music became mellow and tranquil. A ninth horse came into the arena without a halter. Wayne reached into his pocket and pulled out a letter and picture drawn by a little girl. Wayne did not read the letter but said the words tore his heart apart about how a little girl lost her horse this Christmas. Wayne continued by saying he knew the loss of a horse, his beloved Aramus, years before. Wayne's kind words touched each heart in the audience full of TV stars, movie actors and other equestrians. Not a dry eye was seen as Wayne's words tapered off until he said the guest of honor was indeed present. Her name? Melissa.

My wife and I were stunned. Wayne called Melissa into the arena with security escort. He held our little girl in his arms and slowly walked to the ninth horse who stood stoically in the arena. With a live microphone, Wayne told the audience of Melissa's loss and how no matter what anyone did, no horse could take Thunder's place in her heart. Wayne said he would try by giving our daughter a gift of a lifetime, WN Pegasus. He said he would train the horse, train Melissa to ride and enter her into horse shows when ready. No words can ever express the feeling of complete and utter humbleness. Wayne followed through with his promises, never ever asking for a dime in return.

After the past 25 years, WN Pegasus is still in the show ring. He has been Nevada State Champion many times over, has been a National Champion and has carried our daughter into the field she now enjoys as her life's calling — the veterinary field, teaching at the College of Southern Nevada. Wayne has been her mentor for these many years, her boss at one time when she managed his ranch after graduating from Colorado State University, her savior and, most of all, her friend. From a little 7-year-old girl to a mother, wife and seasoned equestrian, Melissa still owns and rides WN Pegasus. WN Pegasus carries my 3-year-old grand daughter now in horse shows. How can anyone ever say Danke Shoen to such a great person? -- Kim


I am a 62-year-old grandfather and a Wayne Newton show-goer for two-thirds of those years. When last seeing his show at the Stardust, I was disappointed that "The Letter" was not in the show. But lo and behold, I read in your great review that it was back in. Fantastic! I must have burned 50 copies of that song for everyone that I play it for.

Favorite memory: Years ago in the company of a young lady I was dating, we were watching Wayne's show, and she was stunned by his talent (at the time I was singing in local bars in L.A.). When Wayne threw the mic in the air, grabbing it on the way down, she turned to me and said, "He does that just like you." After about five seconds she looked at me again and said, "NO WAY, YOU DO IT JUST LIKE HIM." That was a great five seconds.

I've seen your show at least 50 times and hope to again "once before you go." Thanks for a lifetime of entertainment and endless midnight shows. GOD BLESS — Patrick


In 2001, I and my ex, David, met my friend Linda in Las Vegas for several days of fun and gambling. I asked David if he would take me to the huge souvenir shop on the North end of the strip. When we got there, he headed in one direction and I went the other. Soon he was back, telling me to "Look at that man over there. See who it is?" "Well, it looks like Wayne Newton," I said. "It IS Wayne! Come on, he wants to meet you" He dragged me to the other side of the store, where Wayne was standing, along with a camera crew from the local TV station. The minute I walked up to Wayne, they turned on the camera and taped him shaking my hand, talking to me and giving me a big kiss! I was thrilled, and the episode showed up on the 6 p.m. news that evening! — Elsa


I would just like to thank Wayne for all of the countless hours of wonderful entertainment that I have had the pleasure of enjoying for 33 years. My mother saw him years ago on the Dinah Shore show on TV, and said, "We have got to go see this man." Well, we did that very summer, and we fell in love with this wonderful man, who happens to be the best entertainer I have ever seen. He is a great person and I would love to see this new show, "Once Before I Go". My mother is 89 now, and still loves him as much as she did all those many years ago. I just want to thank him for all of the enjoyment and fun times I was able to share with my family going to Vegas, only to see Wayne's shows. He is a true showman and I congratulate him on his 50 years of entertaining in Las Vegas. There will never be another Mr. Las Vegas!!!!! — Judith

• To submit your own memory of Wayne Newton, click here »