Meeting ‘Mr. Las Vegas’
MICHIGAN CITY — He’s been an antagonist of James Bond, performed live in front of millions and has been so prolific in “the entertainment capital of the world” he’s known by his fans as “Mr. Las Vegas.”
He’s Wayne Newton, and he’ll be coming to Blue Chip Casino Nov. 16 for his latest tour, “Wayne Newton: Up Close and Personal.” The award-winning singer will perform favorites from his extensive catalogue, including “Danke Schoen,” “Daddy, Don’t You Walk So Fast” and “Years,” and answer audience questions for the special event.
Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com or at the Blue Chip Gift Box in the Blue Chip Casino pavilion. Guests must be 21 or older with a valid state or government issued photo ID.
According to the biography on his official website, Newton has performed live, at last count, to more than 40 million people, and, in 1994, performed his 25,000th show in Las Vegas alone.
But this didn’t just happen overnight. He became interested in showbiz at age 4 when he saw Hank Williams and Kitty Wells at the Grand Ole Opry road show in Roanoke, Virginia.
The young Newton then learned piano, guitar and steel guitar by ear, and by the time he was 6, he was doing a daily radio show before going to school. Today he plays 13 instruments, many of which he works into his shows.
According to his website, Newton was in first grade when he and his brother Jerry performed at a USO show for President Truman, and he was 8 years old when they entered a local contest and won the chance to audition for the nation’s biggest amateur show.
“There are two people I know of who flunked ‘Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour’ auditions,” Newton said on his website, “Elvis Presley and me.”
After making a name for himself performing in Vegas following high school, he was invited to national TV by Jackie Gleason. He later credited Jack Benny with helping him move up the ranks to the main showrooms in Vegas.
His record hits include “Heart,” “Danke Schoen,” “Red Roses For A Blue Lady,” “Summer Wind” and “Dreams Of the Everyday Housewife.” (He also scored a multi-gold album and single on “Daddy, Don’t You Walk So Fast.”)
But Newton’s life has had its difficulties. According to his official website, Newton’s severe bouts with asthma forced the family to move from Virginia to Phoenix, Arizona, where he recovered and continued his career. He credited his stamina to his Powahatan Indian/Irish father, who overcame his own poverty-stricken background, and his Cherokee Indian/German mother.
And his talent has gone beyond music.
In 1989, he played the middleman to a drug kingpin in the James Bond film “License to Kill.” He also appeared in “Ocean’s 11” and such TV shows as “Roseanne,” “Ellen” and “Tales from the Crypt.”
In February 1999, he received a “First American in the Arts Award” as “Outstanding Guest Performance by an Actor in a Television Series” for his role on “Ally McBeal” portraying shock jock Harold Wick.
“I’m still doing the kind of shows I’ve always done.” Newton said, “and I can tell you one thing; People may leave one of my shows disliking Wayne Newton, but they’ll never walk out saying, ‘He didn’t work hard for us’.”
The Nov. 16 performance starts at 8 p.m. Ticket prices start at $45. Blue Chip Casino is located at 777 Blue Chip Drive in Michigan City.
—From staff reports