The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on March 14, 1976 · Page 278
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The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 278

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 14, 1976
Page 278
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i'l greatest performer this town ever has seen following a breakdown, returned only to land in the hospital again." Newton loves Las Vegas so much, he bought himself a $2 million sprawling ranch 10 minutes from the Strip. He calls it the Casa de Shenandoah. The district he lives in is nicknamed the Ghetto because of its preponderance of top stars of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Neighbors include Buddy Hackett, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Paul Anka, who like Newton not only dig the Vegas life-style but also Nevada's low taxes. As a corporate entity, Newton has over 90 on his payroll in Vegas alone. He's into such profit-making ventures as a horse-breeding farm (with over 100 Arabian thoroughbreds), a merchandising company, a music publishing firm, real estate in Los Angeles (four apartment buildings) and Hawaii (two condominiums). Fringe benefits include a Rolls-Royce, an XK-E, a Mustang, two Bentleys, a Lear jet, three Hondas, a power boat, a golf cart and a dune buggy. Jeans, Jacket Every morning even on those following working nights the entertainer manages to look chippej as he ambles about his spread, usually clad in a pair of jeans and a beige suede jacket. Gulping hot cof-, fee from a mug on which his name is inscribed, Wayne sometimes will guide friends and reporters on a tour of his swimming pool, artesian wells, artificial lakes, tennis courts. Stopping at the foundation for the new duplex he's building, Newton proudly points to where the wine cellar will be located. Presently, the singer and his wife, the former Elaine Okamura, live in a compact, six-room ranch house, attended by a congenial housekeeper named Julia. Newton freely admits that despite his wealth he still feels somewhat insecure. He attributes this to an impoverished childhood. At 6, Wayne recalls performing on radio and television shows in Roanoke, Va., in an effort to help out his dad whose earnings were scanty, both as a boatman and a garage mechanic. The family could barely pay the rent on a $6,500 house. Today, his father, Patrick, and mother, Evelyn, live in their own house on Newton's Vegas spread. When Wayne came down with acute asthma, the family moved to Phoenix, Ariz. There Newton and brother Jerry formed an act that became a hit on local TV. This eventually led to a five-year contract at the Las Vegas Fremont Lounge. As Wayne recalls, "It was seven months a year, six days a week, six shows a night, 40 minutes on and 20 minutes off. A 60-cent minimum allowed you to stay for hours. But don't get me wrong. I don't regret it. In retrospect, it was great basic training. I learned how to deal with hecklers who hurl beer cans and people who, in the middle of your act, like to fake a heart attack." In 1963, Wayne took his act on the road. "We stayed out of Nevada for two years," he says. "During , I .. . n - H Crj V Exercising one of his 100 Arabian horses is a favorite pastime of Newton's. N that time we must have hit every joint and dive from Georgia to the Dakotas. We wound up in Australia, where Jack Benny spotted us and asked if we'd play Harrah's Club in Tahoe with him. We had turned down a $10,000 offer at Harrah's, because it meant playing the lounge, but we returned with Benny for $1,500 a week because it meant we'd , be in the big room even though it was as a supporting act." Newton drives to a nearby eatery for dinner, then to his dressing room before show time. He notes, "This is my 600th week of showroom performances in Las Vegas. Entertaining is like thoroughbred racing. When Citation won the triple crown 25 years ago, there were 18,000 foals. When Secretariat did the trick, there were 78,000 foals. I'm probably no Jolson, but AI didn't have the competition I face today. Increased competition has made it so that, if you want to remain in the race, you gotta keep up with the pace." 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