weather icon Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Good opportunity to thank Newton

Two days after Glenn and Linda Smith’s child was born with Down syndrome, the first call, with an offer to help, came from Wayne Newton.

That was May 1970.

“Little did he know when he said, ‘What can I do,’ we would take him up on it,” Linda Smith said Thursday.

The Smiths were told their son wouldn’t live. Newton, who early in his career alternated on the same stage with Glenn Smith and his Fabulous Fables at the Fremont hotel, offered his talent to the Toronto couple.

In all, Newton participated in more than 15 benefit concerts, raising $15 million for the Smiths and their pet project, Opportunity Village.

“He stepped up and put us on the map,” said Linda Smith, who for more than two decades has been chief fundraiser for Opportunity Village, the largest organization in Nevada offering services to the intellectually disabled.

Three times Newton and his wife, Kathleen, opened their home to fundraisers. But raising money wasn’t Newton’s only contribution to the Smith family. When they tried to bring their son, Chris, across the border to Las Vegas, they ran into some ugly red tape. The U.S. government at that time barred criminals or mentally impaired people from entry.

It took years to work out the visa issues before the Smiths got Chris to Las Vegas for good, thanks to one of Newton’s old friend, Harry Reid, elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986.

Chris Smith was among those at the Opportunity Village Engelstad Campus on Thursday to honor Newton with a metal sculpture of a man playing a guitar.


Las Vegas attorney/poet Dayvid Figler presents Vegas Seven’s fourth edition of The Tell storytelling series, Oct. 14 at Artifice, 1025 S. First St.

The seven-person program runs from 7:30-9:30 p.m., with drinking stories as the topic. Ten minutes each, no notes. The $5 admission includes a drink named for each story.

The lineup includes: actors Lauren Weedman (“The Daily Show” and “Hung”) and Michael Bunin (“Kenny”), San Diego-bound bartender Trish Martin (Freakin’ Frog & Dinos), and writers James Reza, Lissa Townsend Rodgers (CityLife), and yours truly . The event is held with the Vegas Valley Book Festival and sponsored by Vegas Seven.


With journalism jobs in Las Vegas going the way of construction work, Richard Abowitz has landed at the Jackson Hole (Wyo.) Weekly. Abowitz is known during his dozen years here for his music reviews for Rolling Stone, a daily blog for the Los Angeles Times and his fondness for porn star Aurora Snow . An art critic friend, who also had to migrate elsewhere, told Abowitz, “In the long run it’s a good move. Vegas is a hospice now.” …

I’m taking time off for trips to Washington, D.C., and New York City. My next column will be a week from today.


Foodies will want to add newcomers Michel Richard’s Central restaurant at Caesars Palace and the Hard Rock Hotel’s 35 Steaks + Martinis to their dining list. Richard, the Washington-based James Beard award winner, is one of the few star chefs confident enough in his menu and price points to try a 24-hour cafe in Las Vegas. At the Hard Rock, 35 gets its name from its signature 35-day aged, 35-ounce Tomahawk steak.


“Who’s Justin Bieber?” — From David Letterman’s Top Ten Thoughts That Went Through Amanda Knox’s Mind When the Verdict Was Read

Norm Clarke can be reached at 702-383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Governor calls budget special session

Gov. Joe Lombardo has signed a proclamation to convene the Legislature into its 34th special session at 8 p.m. Tuesday to take up the capital projects budget.

Are Apple’s new ‘Vision Pro’ goggles what VR has been looking for?

Apple on Monday unveiled a long-rumored headset that will place its users between the virtual and real world, while also testing the technology trendsetter’s ability to popularize new-fangled devices after others failed to capture the public’s imagination.