Media mogul Merv Griffin once quipped, “Las Vegas without Wayne Newton is like Disneyland without Mickey Mouse.” For more than 50 years, Newton (aka Mr. Las Vegas) has been entertaining audiences with classic hits like “Danke Schoen” and “The Letter,” a sentimental song he wrote about his friend Elvis Presley at one of his lowest moments. During his career, the Virginia native has released 165 albums, starred in hit movies including License to Kill, learned to play 13 instruments, and entertained U.S. troops in every major armed conflict since Vietnam. On June 3, he’ll take the stage at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, mixing platinum melodies with storytelling and intimate conversation. The legendary vocalist spoke to PBI about his career, his favorite four-letter word, and the secret to remaining popular.
PBI: What can guests expect from your performance on June 3?
Newton: A totally different show than they’ve ever seen. I tell stories, answer questions, sing some songs, and play some instruments.
How’d you earn the moniker Mr. Las Vegas?
I wouldn’t leave! I moved to Las Vegas at 15 and have lived there ever since. Journalists started referring to me as Mr. Las Vegas, and it stuck.
What’s your greatest achievement?
Entertaining our men and women in the military since I was 9 years old. In 2000, the United Service Organization and Bob Hope asked me to take over as chairman of the USO Celebrity Circle. It helps to bring just a little bit of home to our heroes, and I will do that for the rest of my life.
What are some of your favorite career highlights?
Entertaining our troops, performing at the Washington Monument on the Fourth of July, and opening the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with The Killers.
You’re friends with President Donald Trump. How did you meet?
I met President Trump in 1990 when I worked for him at the Taj Mahal. I have also performed many times at Mar-a-Lago.
What are your favorite Palm Beach haunts?
Mar-a-Lago, Worth Avenue, the Atlantic Ocean, and spending time with dear friends and family who live there.
When you’re not performing, where can we find you?
At my home, Casa de Shenandoah, riding horses, flying a helicopter, or traveling the world in search of rare antiques and art.
What’s your greatest non-musical talent?
Breeding international champion Arabian horses
What’s something we don’t know about you but should?
I am fiercely loyal to my friends, some say to a fault. I am a black-belt in karate.
What’s your secret for remaining popular?
Not doing things to be popular.
One of your most iconic songs, “The Letter,” was written in homage to Elvis Presley. Why is this song so moving?
In my opinion, it reflects that even when he was at the lowest point in his life, he still had his faith.
What’s your favorite four-letter word?
Which historical figures do you most identify with?
Pocahontas, Geronimo, and Sitting Bull
Which living person do you most admire?
My wife, Kathleen
What traits do you most admire in yourself?
Loyalty and the ability to adapt
What phrase do you most overuse?
“Words become painfully inadequate…”
Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
My wife and daughters
What is your most treasured possession?
Captain William Metzger was a prisoner of war for seven years in Vietnam at the Hanoi Hilton. During his time there, he drank from a tin cup. It was the only material thing he brought home with him. I met him when I was performing for President Reagan, and we became fast friends. He gave me his tin cup. It’s a reminder that freedom is never free.
What’s next for Wayne Newton?
I can’t wait to find out.