September 16, 2015 - 2:39 pm
Casa de Shenandoah? More like Casa de Wow.
And for anybody who’s driven past the gates of Wayne Newton’s estate near the corner of Sunset and Pecos roads and wondered what lay behind, finding out firsthand now is possible.
You can check out the photo gallery above, or, starting Friday, the entertainer will offer public tours of his longtime Las Vegas estate. In addition to viewing Newton’s car collection, stage outfits that go back to his childhood and gifts presented to him by other legendary entertainers, guests can view his prize-winning Arabian horses, his menagerie of animals and the 52-acre ranch with its manicured grounds and artesian-fed ponds and natural lakes.
Fans and followers of Newton may be surprised that the estate is available for viewing at all. For the past several years, the property has been the focus of a legal battle between Newton and investors. Last fall, the property even had been put up for sale.
Earlier this week, Newton said that he and the partners have settled their differences.
“What we have done, the entire property is ours. We’ve leased it for more years than I’ll ever see, and with the right and predetermined figure, which I can’t go into, should we decide that we wanted to buy it back, that’s the figure and it’s a done deal,” Newton said.
Newton, who moved to Las Vegas in 1959, purchased the first five acres of the estate in 1966. The first house on the property — the one in which Newton, his parents and his brother then lived — was built between 1966 and 1968. Newton purchased additional adjoining acreage between 1969 and 1972, and in 1973, construction of the property’s mansion began. It was completed in 1976.
Today, the estate has eight residences, habitat for a variety of animals and birds and several natural ponds. It also has two barns with stalls for Newton’s 60 purebred Arabian horses and three horse arenas.
Guests will start at a visitors center across the street from the estate. There, they can purchase tickets for the tour — packages range from $35 to $95 for adults — view a film about Newton, and take home a Newton or Casa de Shenandoah souvenir, home decor, apparel and gift items from Kat’s Corner, named for Newton’s wife, Kathleen, or children’s items and pet accessories from Lauren’s Lair, named for Newton’s daughter, with proceeds going to Opportunity Village.
Visitors who opt to take the estate tour will board shuttles for a ride into the estate. There, they can view museum cases and displays containing mementos from Newton’s performing career, which began when he was 4 years old. Among the items on display are stage costumes he wore as a kid, one of which features, Newton notes, fringe his mother took from a drape.
Newton, in the form of recorded video played on high-definition screens, serves as tour guide. Several exhibits feature Newton’s long career as celebrity ambassador for the USO, traveling the United States and the world to entertain American troops.
In person, Newton is an affable tour guide who possesses both great stories and a knack for telling them, even if the military-related photos and mementos can resurrect memories laden with emotion.
Once while visiting troops in Vietnam — Newton notes that he has visited troops in every U.S. conflict since Vietnam — “I came down with a bad case of the flu,” he recalls. He asked the nurse who was treating him if he could contact anybody on her behalf back home, just to “let them know I saw you and that you’re doing great and you’re very happy doing your job.”
The nurse gave Newton her mother’s phone number. A few weeks later, he made the call and learned from the mother that her daughter had been killed the previous week in a helicopter crash.
“Well, my throat went to my stomach, as you can imagine, and I still get choked up to this day when I tell this story,” Newton says.
“I said, ‘I’m so sorry to bother you at a time like this.’ She said, ‘No, no, no, no, no. I’ve been waiting for this call.’ She said, ‘Had you not called, it would have been the most devastating thing that could have happened,’ notwithstanding losing her, ‘because you’re the last person that saw her happy and vivacious, doing what she loved doing, and no mother wants to hear more than that. So please don’t feel bad about calling.'”
Newton pauses. “It’s those kind of moments that will last me the rest of my life.”
Also featured are items that Newton has collected over the years, including movie memorabilia and gifts presented to him by other legendary performers, including Nat King Cole, Jack Benny and Elvis Presley. There’s even an old-fashioned microphone from Frank Sinatra, inscribed to “Injun” — “He always called me that,” says Newton, who has Native American roots — that says, “I got started with one of these when you were a papoose. Much love … “
Visitors can view Newton’s car collection — he’s partial to Rolls-Royces and Bentleys — which includes cars once owned by Johnny Cash and Liberace, and walk inside a private jet Newton used for several years.
Unlike some celebrity private jets, Newton’s bears no name on its front. “I was going to call it ‘Lauren,’ after my daughter, and my wife looked at me and says, ‘Shouldn’t it be named after me?’ And the answer to that is, ‘Of course, darling,'” Newton says, laughing. “So we never got around to naming it.”
During their tour of the grounds, guests can see the Arabian horses Newton breeds. “Our horses have produced over 96 national champions,” says Newton, who admits that, in Europe, some know him better as a horse breeder than as an entertainer.
Guests can see the exotic animals — including a Capuchin monkey named Boo, a pair of penguins, birds and wallabies — who share the estate, and view the manicured lawns, lush landscaping and spring-fed ponds that dot it. Guests who opt for higher-tiered tours also will get a peek into the estate’s mansion.
Newton says that, when he bought the first parcel of what would become Casa de Shenandoah, he envisioned that it someday would become the working ranch/estate it is now. He’s excited about sharing it all with fans.
“It’s been a challenge, to say the least,” Newton says. “But it’s all come together, and it’s come together beautifully, and beyond what we hoped it would be. So that says it all.”
Contact reporter John Przybys at email@example.com or 702-383-0280 or follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.
What: Wayne Newton’s Casa de Shenandoah
Where: 3310 E. Sunset Road
When: Open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. now through March 8 (9 a.m.-8 p.m. March 9-Nov. 1, 2016)
Tickets: Adult tickets, $35-$95 (casadeshenandoah.com)