Published Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009 | 11:01 a.m.
Updated Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009 | 6:09 a.m.
From the Sun
As part of our blowout coverage of Wayne Newton, we asked our readers for their questions for Mr. Las Vegas. Newton was kind enough to answer them, and you can read his responses below.
Question: "I attended a show when Wayne was introduced to the audience by Dan Dailey. Would you please tell me what year and where that was? It seems to me it was around 1958/59." — Mildred
Newton's Answer: It is longer ago than I care to talk about, but I think it was 1959.
Question: "I remember you and Robert Goulet playing tricks on each other. What was the best trick R.G. played on you? I remember a chimp in the orchestra once! Wasn't that thanks to R.G.?" — Paula
Newton's Answer: When he brought a chimp and put him in the band with a violin. The chimp wet all over the stool. Also, one night he walked out onstage on me and said, "I've known Wayne Newton since he sounded like a girl, but now he has matured and sounds like a woman."
Question: "I have always wondered why didn’t you use your first name, Carson?" — Jaber
Newton's Answer: It was not me. It was my parents. They always called me Wayne and never Carson. (But I was named after Sunset Carson, the Western movie star, and Wayne King, the bandleader.)
Question: "My children and I, over the years, have watched the Jerry Lewis Telethon. We always made it a point to watch the end when you would appear and the donations would dramatically increase. Why did you stop closing out the telethon?" — Marge
Newton's Answer: Because he moved the show to L.A., and it seems that I am always working out of town.
Question: "I know people have been bringing you gifts for years. What is the most memorable gift you've received onstage? Funny or extravagant?" — Paula
Newton's Answer: The most memorable gift I have ever received onstage was an invitation from a lady to join her in her room, but she also asked if her husband could watch.
Question: "Mr. Newton, I am part Indian, like yourself. Do you still encounter race discrimination today even after a long career in show business? And how do you cope with it?" — Linda
Newton's Answer: I have not encountered race discrimination since high school in Phoenix.
Question: "I know that in your career, you have had many, many touching moments. I would love to know what was the most meaningful moment that you have ever experienced in all of these wonderful years you have been entertaining all of us? I know you must have had too many to remember, but I would love to know the moment in your life that touched you the most." — Judy
Newton's Answer: The most touching moment in my career was in Talil, Iraq. I had taken the first group of entertainers into Iraq following the commencement of the war. It was summer, and we landed in Talil. We had performed a show the night before in Baghdad, and we had been told that our visit to Talil was supposed to be just handshakes and pictures. Neal McCoy, Paul Rodriguez and two Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders were with me. We had no band or musical instruments.
When we arrived at the base, there were 7,000 troops in full combat gear waiting for a show. Obviously, there was a miscommunication somewhere. I gathered the other performers together and said, "They have been waiting in this heat for a show, and we need to give them a show." I asked the base commander to find out if anyone had a boom box and a guitar. Twenty minutes later, the commander brought back both. The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders had some CDs they could dance to, and I used the guitar to back up myself and Neal. Neal sang backup for me, and I sang backup for him. Paul did an incredible comedy set. They had fire trucks that would wet down the troops during the show to keep them cool.
At one point in the show, I asked the soldier who lent me his guitar to come onstage. I held the mic for him while he played his guitar and sang a song. He was incredibly talented. We managed to give them a 90-minute show with no musicians and just a guitar, boom box and microphone. When the show was over, I looked at my wife and said, "That show will be impossible to beat." A week after we left, I learned the soldier who lent me his guitar and who sang for us was killed in combat. I thanked God that my wife had filmed the soldier onstage so I was able send that to his family. All of us, with no exception, felt that whatever God-given talent we had been given was to be used for that show. I will never forget it.
Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.