Carson Wayne Newton was born on April 3, 1942, in a beautiful southern valley called Roanoke, Virginia. Joining his elder brother Jerry, the family was now complete. His parents, Patrick Newton and Evelyn Marie Smith Newton, were each of fifty-percent Indian descent; and their son would someday cherish his Cherokee and Powhattan heritage.
Mr. and Mrs. Newton took young Wayne to a Grand Old Opry show when it was passing through Roanoke, and it was at that moment, when he saw what happiness an entertainer could bring to his audience, that Wayne discovered his true calling. He would develop his musical talent and use it to make people happy, whenever and wherever he could.
His very first opportunity to do this professionally came when he was only six years old. The radio station WDBJ in Roanoke offered him his own show, at six o'clock in the morning. For a year, Wayne would do his radio show, then proceed to school. The music he produced was extraordinary for a child his age, and he was asked to entertain at church and school assemblies occasionally, as well. He and his brother Jerry formed a team, touring with the Grand Old Opry on weekends and playing some private parties. Word was getting out about this child prodigy.
Throughout his life, Wayne has been plagued with allergies, especially asthma. For a singer, that can be a serious problem. It kept him out of school much more than he should have been and jeopardized his very life, so the family followed the doctor's advice and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, which had a much healthier climate for such a child. His health improved remarkably. Once that was accomplished, the family moved to Newark, Ohio. Wayne found new avenues for his talent there, and the Newton Brothers performed every Sunday at Hill Billy Park. All was going well until wintertime, when his asthma put him on his back again, so they returned to Arizona.
The boys often appeared on television on the "Lew King Ranger Show", and were later asked to audition for a lounge position at the Fremont Hotel in Las Vegas. They were hired, and thus began Wayne's most important vocational education. He was still underage, so what he could do offstage in this glitzy city was quite limited. Las Vegas became the hub of his life, however. Word spread quickly about this fantastic talent, and many of the biggest names in the business caught his act. He stirred something deep within them and they wanted to help him in his climb to the top. Wayne and Jerry were making the kind of music they loved, the songs that had mostly been replaced by current hits. Bobby Darin, Jackie Gleason, Jack Benny, and Lucille Ball all played prominent parts in his ascent. At Bobby Darin's insistence, they were no longer being billed as The Newton Brothers, but, rather, simply as Wayne Newton. Jerry was not pleased. Who could blame him? But Bobby was very experienced in this business and they respected his judgment.
Wayne and Jerry were not only making recordings, but also appearing on television, which introduced them to the entire country. Both young men appeared on the highly-popular Bonanza series, but the one so many people seem to remember most to this day was the first of three guest appearances Wayne would make on Lucille Ball's shows. Its plot being a simple farm boy whose musical talent was discovered and promoted by Lucy, this show incorporated two things Wayne loved most - music and animals. "Bessie, the Heifer" was the lighthearted song from that episode that fans can occasionally get him to repeat today. He loves to please his fans and has an instant rapport with his audience. Even back then, on The Lucille Ball Show, he tried but was unable to always do what every other actor was doing - ignoring the audience. You could see evidence of his live-stage training when he would say his punchlines in such a way that the studio audience got the full benefit of it.
His love for people and charisma on stage have taken Wayne Newton from child star to legend status. He draws his audience into the show, teasing them, teaching them, putting a verbal spotlight on them and making them feel as if they're the most important people in the world. They almost inevitably respond with loyal affection. Wayne could be considered not only a musician, but also a magician, as he magically transforms his fans' husbands, who had reluctantly accompanied their wives to his show, into enthusiastic supporters, too. Because of all these things, Wayne has become known as Mr. Entertainment, The Midnight Idol, and The King of Las Vegas. Once a lounge act, he's now probably the most important headliner in Vegas. He, along with his backup singers and orchestra, not only provide superb entertainment vocally, but they also present comedy of various types; and Wayne never fails to take a few moments to honor the individual veterans in the audience. Most amazing of all is Wayne with his instruments. He can play about a dozen of them, and will often do numbers on his violin, guitar, piano, and banjo during the show. There's an air of excitement from the moment he comes on stage to his final bow two hours later.
An informal survey of his fans was conducted in his chatroom. Why is it, they were asked, that people will continue to go back to Wayne's show, time after time? Here are their responses:
* "Definitely his personality....it radiates through the whole theater."
* "He makes sure everyone has a good time - and that he's singing to them sometime throughout the show."
* "Wayne is so NICE! Yes, he is sexy and so very talented, but he just makes you feel like you are terrific, no matter what. . . . You feel like he is singing to you, no matter how many people are there. You come away from him feeling good all over!"
* "Another thing that also holds your attention is his charisma, he is just the ultimate entertainer."
Wayne has been married twice, to Elaine Okamura from 1968 to 1985, and to Kathleen McCrone from 1994 to the present, and has two daughters.
Wayne's career is still going strong today and he's as loved now as ever. Six nights a week, forty weeks a year, he performs at the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas to a sold-out crowd. He has gone overseas many times to entertain our military troops for the USO. Now a new chapter is unfolding in his life. On October 9, 2001, it was announced that Wayne had been appointed Chairman of the USO Celebrity Circle, with Bob Hope's blessings. Within weeks of that announcement, Wayne took an all-star cast on their first tour to the Middle East to bring some of America to our soldiers.
Wayne Newton's Scores