By Guest Blogger, Susan, “Sam” Shockley, owner of 4 More Travel in Nevada. Anticipation grows as you enter the pavilion where your journey through the lifetime of a great Las Vegas entertainer begins. The essence of Mr. Wayne Newton seems to be GRATITUDE. His move from Virginia to Arizona resulted in his mom selling precious items to make sure Wayne who had asthma could thrive. From that time forward, Mr. Newton did everything he could to preserve the blessings that were bestowed upon him throughout his magnificent career. Those blessings are on display at the incredible 52acre property called Casa de Shenandoah. It sits on the corner of Pecos & E. Sunset (3310 E.Sunset Rd). There are many tours to choose from depending on how much time you want to devote or your physical stamina. Prices range from $40 to $99.00. Of course, I suggest the 3 ½ hour guided tour; it is amazing. But all the tours start with a welcome from the man himself, in the movie that begins your journey in the grand theater. As he says, “I’m Wayne Newton” like he has to introduce himself. Wayne Newton, on film draws you into the experience, telling you a little about himself and the people and things that inform his life. His brother, Jackie Gleason, Jack Benny, Bobby Darrin, Tom Chancy and many others are highlighted in this film. Next you hop on the air conditioned luxury bus to cross the street and enter the gates to a true experience. There are large buildings housing his collections & memorabilia. First you see Wayne’s private jet. Jet, you ask. Yes, the jet is decked out in marble and gold. He would fly his band members and instruments to performances, always nabbing one, unlucky soul, to play gin rummy with him.
One possession that is very dear to Wayne is an old tattered cup that belonged to an American prisoner of war, in Vietnam, who depended on this cup to live, plugging the hole in the bottom with rubber from his shoe. Rumor has it that Wayne told his wife that if the house ever burned down that this cup should be saved. Wayne being friends with the astronauts, he asked if they would take Aramus, his favorite horse, into space. They gladly agreed when they saw that the horses’ image was imprinted on a coin; so Wayne Newton’s horse was the first, probably the only horse in space.
I would never have enough time to see each and every precious item in this room. Elvis even wrote him a letter and memories from “Dancing with the Stars” reside there, too. But alas, it is time for some fresh air. Jump aboard our luxury van and off to the swimming pool…for horses? Yes, it is 13 ft. deep and the horses are escorted down a ramp where they swim around a circle 3 times which is the equivalent of a 5 mile run. The horse ring is next to that, where occasionally we see the beautiful Arabian horses run and play & perform.
Did you know that Wayne Newton is one of the world’s top breeders of Arabian horses? It is said, he has owned over 90 of these beautiful creatures and one “little man horse”, like the little horse in the commercial, for Lauren, Newton’s daughter. Aramis, you might say, was the love of his life and the champion that got him started with Arabian horses. A little of Aramis’ bloodline filters down to most of the horses Wayne Newton owns. You will see each bloodline posted on the stall doors when you visit the horse barn. A short ride brings us to a modest house with a garage…nothing special here. Oh, how wrong you are. Lucille Ball’s Woodie station wagon with studio identifiers is sitting in this garage. Lucy was a real friend to Mr. Newton. It is said that an appearance on the Lucy show was so impressive, the studio heads offered Wayne a permanent spot as a singing farmer. Lucy thought about it and called him to say, “Who do you think of when I say Jim Nabors”? Why Gomer Pile, of course, is the answer. She told him not to take the job for he would be typed-casted for the rest of his career. He said no to the job and the rest is history.
When entering Wayne’s bathroom, you pass a sink, a shower, a tub and a toilet; things we all have. What we don’t have is a magazine rack that hides a gun, just in case there are intruders. Intruders will always let you go to the bathroom. Smart. The wedding gown and tuxedo of the couple hangs in the walk in closet. An actual barber chair with a view has plenty of light for grooming. A short walk down the hall, past beautiful artworks is Mrs. Wayne Newton’s private dressing area. Kathleen, as we saw in the introduction movie, is a beautiful woman. Past her vanity and tub is a showcase of good taste. St John fashions, one after the other, magnificent show her impeccable taste in clothing many with brand new price tags. Oh, how I would love to see each piece, but you mustn’t touch these beautiful things. When you turn around, 2 walls of Ferragamo and Jimmy Cho, to name a few, shoes are staring you in the face. For a woman, this is an amazing place. We were at the opening night of Wayne’s new show at Bally’s, “Up Close and Personal”, and Kathleen was greeting guests as though they were all intimate friends. I must tell you a short story about Lauren. Although, Lauren is the apple of her father’s eye and he loves to ride with her often, she brought her friends to opening night of “Up Close and Personal”, a teenager now, she seemed so excited for her friends to share the experience with her famous father. Wayne Newton is a huge star that I have seen many times in different locals, yet the family seemed so very real. On the other side of the staircase is the Nanny’s room, a very tastefully appointed room with 2 ornate beds, one that might be used if Lauren had a bad dream and needed company. There is a golden chair in this room that appears to be a light metal…I dare you to lift it. I will wonder about that chair for some time. The room is so sweet. In the middle of the room there is a large box, about 5 f. tall. I had seen one once in George Washington’s mothers home in Virginia so I got sassy and asked the tour guide if he knew what that was. He didn’t! So I told him, “it is a carriage for a single person. You just put two long poles in the metal brackets and off you go”. I felt so smart. A perambulator greets you in Lauren’s room, the best that money can buy. Beautiful crib, beds with pink ribbons and bows as you would imagine a little girls room in a palace. What I can’t figure out, after working in hotels all my life, why her very special things in her book case are not nailed down. I would never touch them but right there is the silver spoon, you know how the rest goes. Her dainty closet is hung with tiny clothes and the bathing area was built shorter so a child could appreciate them.
Before the tour is over you are driven past the discrete grave of Aramis the horse that started the Aramis Arabian bloodline. It is under a shade tree marked with 3 crosses. His legacy lives on. The thing that impresses me the most about Wayne Newton, his family and the 52-acre attraction is how much gratitude is here. As a fan, I have always thought Mr. Newton gave so much to the audience but here you see on display that he has taken the time to showcase and say thank you to everyone that helped him, assisted him, pushed him, made an impression on him and aided him throughout his life and career. You don’t see gratitude like that anymore. I encourage people to bring their children to see this heartfelt gratitude alive at the corner of Sunset and Pecos here in Henderson/Las Vegas, Nevada. By the way, there are many tours you can choose from: The mansion alone, or the museums, or many combinations. I encourage you to check in by googling Casa de Shenandoah to explore your possibilities. Website: http://casadeshenandoah.com
Join Patrick Barney as he explores his love of travel & food around the world & in his home town of Las Vegas.