By Heather Turk
Following countless requests from fans and neighbors alike, Wayne Newton has finally opened the gates of his legendary 52-acre Las Vegas property to the public.
“Over the years, I’d get letters from fans and notes left in my mailbox and onstage asking if there was any possible way to see my horses and the ranch,” Newton recalled. “Everyone always thought the walls were to keep people out, but really they were to keep us in.”
Home to more than 60 Arabian horses and several exotic animals, including penguins, wallabies and a curious Capuchin monkey named Boo, guests can now tour Newton’s lush Casa de Shenandoah grounds by booking one of several guided tours available Monday through Saturday. Depending on the type of tour booked, guests will be able to enter the barn, walk through Newton’s childhood home and tour his breathtaking two-story mansion, which houses several hidden rooms and priceless pieces of art—including a painting Margaret Keane made specifically for Newton.
Guests will also get to watch an Arabian horse demonstration or see one of Newton’s horses swim in the private horse pool and visit the Wayne Newton Museum, which details Newton’s career and history performing for the troops. The museum includes Newton’s luxury automobile collection, too, and his old private jet, in which guests can take a picture while seated in the cockpit.
“The cars and animals were my decision [to include], but my wife gets full credit for the museum,” Newton stated when asked about the tours. “I felt too close to be objective, so I called upon my wife, who is not only an attorney but also an incredible interior decorator, to put it together piece by piece.”
While the museum has hundreds of items on display, including letters from former presidents and costumes his mother made for him when he was just four years old, Newton said there are “100,000 other things” still in storage, so he keeps adding things as he finds them. “I’m a bit of a packrat,” Newton stated with a laugh.
“We may have opened the Wayne Newton Museum, but the truth of the matter is the museum is anything but,” Newton humbly stated. “There’s stuff about Frank Sinatra, Elvis and Jack Benny on display. People constantly have been sending me things over the years that have nothing to do with me, but we wanted to include them to show others the history of Las Vegas.”
Although Newton and his family no longer live on the property, Newton still visits daily to walk the barn and check on the animals whenever he’s in town.
“It’s the first thing I used to do when I’d come home from work and I still do it today,” Newton said. “It gives me a sense of peacefulness that allows me to go to sleep. It’s my place to get away.”
Fans can also see Newton performing in his new show at Bally’s Las Vegas, “Wayne Newton: Up Close and Personal,” which Newton said is different from anything he’s ever done.
“If people want to hear a song, I’ll do it. If they have a question, I’ll answer it,” he said of the intimate 398-seat production. ”I want to show people [the type of show that]made Las Vegas.”
Always a champion of the city, Newton may joke that the only reason he’s Mr. Las Vegas is because he wouldn’t leave, but the truth of the matter is that he’s Las Vegas’ biggest fan. In fact, memorabilia from his favorite Las Vegas memory—which just happened in April—was recently added to the museum’s collection.
“I was very honored to be asked to help open up the new T-Mobile Arena,” Newton said. “I asked myself, ‘What kind of show should I do for 20,000 people?’ and decided to write a show that pays tribute to the performers who made Las Vegas what it is. I closed my segment with ‘My Way’ as a tribute to Frank Sinatra, and as I looked out into the crowd as a single spotlight shone down on me, 20,000 people turned on their cell phone lights. There’s a picture of that moment and it’s the most incredible picture I’ve ever seen. I’m not a crier, but I actually teared up when I saw it, and I called Barbara Sinatra and told her I had a gift for her. If she ever thought her husband’s influence has waned, I wanted her to have that picture. She cried just hearing about it.”
Fans will see a copy of that photograph inside the museum and learn more about Newton and the lives he’s touched during a short introductory video on him and Casa de Shenandoah that’s shown before every tour. For more information, visit casadeshenandoah.com and for tickets to “Wayne Newton: Up Close and Personal,” visit ballyslasvegas.com.