Wayne Newton lives in one of the better parts of Las Vegas, in the same neighborhood as Nancy Sinatra, Gladys Knight, and Paul Harvey's son. Newton's spread has strolling peacocks, air-conditioned horse barns, manmade lakes, a helipad, and, because of the tour buses, a twelve-foot wall. "It looks like something out of Gone With the Wind," says Wayne Bernath, contributing editor at Show Business Magazine in Las Vegas, who puts the house's worth at $4 million.
You almost certainly missed the chance to tour this bastion of splendor on Father's Day, when it was open to the public to raise money for charity. Not to worry. Just drive by 2206 North Richland in Phoenix and look at Wayne Newton's childhood home. If you bring along $5,000 for a down payment, you can even buy the thing.
Wayne Newton, as people of a certain age here know, spent his adolescent years in Phoenix. In fact, he broke into show biz here, performing with his brother Jerry on a local talent show called Lew King's Rangers.
"Jerry had no personality, but Wayne was bubbly--he was kind of chubby," remembers Gary Peter Klahr, a child announcer on the show who went on to become a high-profile lawyer. Wayne Newton, of course, went on to sing "Danke Schoen" and to be so intimately associated with Las Vegas that he doesn't need to be identified in those television ads for the town that show him waving invitingly. The house Wayne Newton's family lived in from 1956 to 1957 is an architectural embodiment of the "rags" end of his rags-to-riches rise. At 746 square feet, the two-bedroom bungalow is probably smaller than his Las Vegas horse barn. It was built in MD120 Col 1, Depth P54.02 I9.03 1920 in the Coronado neighborhood, then as now a blue-collar area. Located north of McDowell Road and east of Seventh Street, Coronado is a historic but rough-and-tumble neighborhood that a trickle of yuppies has moved into. Houses tarted up with flowers, fresh paint and oversize house numbers are sprinkled amidst but outnumbered by places that practice a more relaxed housekeeping--peeling porches swarming with popsicle-stained children and front yards strewn with plastic tricycles.
Newton's former home--he would have lived there when he was fourteen and fifteen--is listed by Richard Larsen, a real estate agent with Century 21-Heinemann Realty. Larsen was one of the urban pioneers in the Coronado neighborhood. He moved there in 1970, because he likes funky old downtown neighborhoods and the racial and economic diversity that comes with them. He also relishes the kind of architectural details that come with an older house. 2206, for example, has casement windows, wood floors and a built-in ironing board. Unfortunately, its original facade has been compromised by the addition of an L-shaped room that enclosed the front porch and obscures an attractive front door.
"Purists would notice that," says Larsen, who sells about 20 percent of the houses that turn over in Coronado, almost all of them to yuppies. "Many times I've been with buyers and they'll say, `Well, we have to tear that off.'"
Larsen found out about the house's connection to Wayne Newton through a chance remark by its owner, a single professional woman transferred to Minnesota by her company. Larsen advertised the house as "Wayne Newton's childhood home," and used the same marketing gimmick in a flier.
A surprising number of people have since told him they remember the singer. At his mother's nursing home, he met Frank Brown, 86, a former taxi driver who remembers taking Wayne and his older brother to music lessons.
Does Wayne Newton's two-year occupancy qualify the house for any kind of historic designation? Roger Brevoort, city historic preservation planner, snorts at the idea. "It's a very peripheral association," he says, pointing out that the same come-on Col 3, Depth