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With a handful of hits to his credit, singer Wayne Newton has spent more than five decades as one of Las Vegas's most popular entertainers.
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Born on April 3, 1942, Wayne Newton started singing professionally as a child. In his teenage years, he performed with his older brother. Newton became a solo performer in the early 1960s and scored such hits as "Danke Schoen" and "Red Roses for a Blue Lady." For the next several decades, Newton established himself as one of Las Vegas's most popular and highest-paid performers.
Wayne Newton spent much of his childhood in Virginia. His father worked as a mechanic and his mother stayed home to raise their two children. Both of his parents had Native American roots—Cherokee on his mother's side and Powahatan on his father's side.
Newton started his professional singing career at the age of six. He first found inspiration for his lifelong occupation after watching Kitty Wells and Hank Williams perform. Before long, Newton and his older brother Jerry toured in a Grand Ole Opry traveling show. He also performed his own daily radio station on a local station. A gifted musician as well, Newton taught himself to play several instruments, including piano, banjo and guitar.
Plagued by asthma, a ten-year-old Newton moved with his family to Phoenix, Arizona, because the climate there was better for his health. He continued to perform in his new city, making appearances on a local television station. Newton even had his own program for a time. During his junior year of high school, he landed a gig in Las Vegas, playing at the Fremont Hotel & Casino with his brother Jerry. Initially hired for two weeks, the Newton brothers performed there for nearly a year. He had also landed appearances on The Jackie Gleason Show and even served as an opening act for Jack Benny. Audiences really seemed to take to the baby-faced singer with a soprano voice.
In 1962, singer Bobby Darin took Newton under his wing and helped him launch his solo career. Newton made it into the Top 20 with "Danke Schoen" the following year. In 1965, Newton hit the charts with another up-tempo ballad "Red Roses for a Blue Lady." And his last major single came in 1972 with "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast." By this time, he had grown his trademark pencil-thin moustache, jazzed up his on-stage look and shifted his vocal range a bit lower.
While he later dropped off the charts, Newton enjoyed great success as an entertainer. He continued to perform in Las Vegas and to make guest appearances on television variety shows. For a time, Newton was the highest-paid act in Las Vegas. He remains a popular concert performer, playing gigs around the country. A supporter of the U.S. military, Newton has participated in numerous USO tours to entertain the troops.
In the early 1980s, NBC News reports ran several news reports on Newton, claiming that Newton had ties to organized crime. It was also reported that Newton had become a part owner of the Aladdin hotel and casino with funds from the mob. He was also allegedly an associate of two members of the Gambino crime family.
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