Out West, they call the "Danke Schoen" singer Mr. Las Vegas. But in Virginia we like to refer to Wayne Newton as “Made in Virginia.”
The Vegas icon was born Carson Wayne Newton, on April 3, 1942, in Norfolk, VA. His father Patrick Newton was an auto mechanic originally from Fredericksburg, VA and of Scottish/Irish-Powhatan descent. His mom, Evelyn Marie Smith, was from West Virginia was of German-Cherokee ancestry.
And while the glittery town of Vegas help make him famous, his roots are clearly grounded in Hampton Roads first as his birthplace and then his proud heritage as part of Virginia’s Patawomeck Indians.
He’s returned to the area on numerous occasions but it was that heritage that drew Newton to Virginia's General Assembly offices in February 2010.
His visit was to support legislation for Indian tribal recognition. He passed around a picture of his grandfather in full headdress and a peace medal he said was given to members of his family from George Washington. He told the House Rules Committee the story of how, when he was a child growing up in Norfolk with asthma, he would spend afternoons inside with his grandfather. He is descended from the tribe and has family in the White Oak area of Stafford County, where many tribe members live.
"It's a passion with me," Newton said of his heritage. "I was taught to love it. To honor it."
Newton was born in Norfolk and later lived in Fredericksburg before moving to Roanoke. By age 10, he was performing on a Roanoke radio, till his bronchial asthma got so bad the family moved to Phoenix. There, Newton along with his brother Jerry, landed a spot on local TV production called Lew King Rangers Show.
It was on that show that a Las Vegas booking agent saw the Newton’s perform and took them to Vegas for an audition. Originally signed for two weeks, the brothers eventually performed for five years, doing six shows a day.
In 1962, they performed on The Jackie Gleason Show. Wayne Newton went on to perform on the show 12 more times over the following two years.
By 1963, Newton became a solo performer scoring such hits as "Danke Schoen" and "Red Roses for a Blue Lady." In the early to mid-1960s, he also acted and sang as "Andy" the baby-faced Ponderosa ranch hand on the classic western TV series, Bonanza.
For the next several decades, Newton established himself as one of Las Vegas's most popular and highest-paid performers and he was “Made in Virginia.”
... and the beat goes on.