The Soundtracks of Your Life – And Wayne Newton’s, too!April 6, 2016
Beginning his career in the Television Age, Wayne Newton made a visual splash in the 1960s. He shared his musical talent and appealing personality with audiences nationwide on broadcasts like the Jack Benny Program, Jackie Gleason Show and Danny Kaye Show. Early on, Newton’s songs became associated with visual media.
But it was a breakout opportunity in 1966 that led to the entertainer becoming forever associated with the term “soundtrack.” At the beginning of Stagecoach, an epic Western, there appeared bold lettering:
“STAGECOACH TO CHEYENNE”
The marquee song was a highlight of the film, which showcased a luminous Ann-Margret along with veteran actors like Keenan Wynn, Red Buttons and Slim Pickens. Bing Crosby, another artist known for blending sound and vision, acted in it, too!
From there, Newton became a huge draw for Hollywood directors and producers looking for an inviting musical backdrop to accompany their scripts.
His next big soundtrack opportunity came with the movie 80 Steps to Jonah, which was released in 1969. Even more, Newton was the star of the movie — a tale of a wayward youth with a heart of gold. The film, which is cherished by many to this day, included a number of his songs, including “My World (Jonah’s Theme),” “If I Could Be to You” and “Tender Loving Care.”
It was a certain 1986 teenage comedy moment, however, that launched Newton into the stratosphere as far as soundtracks go. This was, of course, “Danke Schoen” as lip-synched by Matthew Broderick in the blockbuster Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The scene, shot during a parade in downtown Chicago by director John Hughes, is memorable for millions of film buffs and influential for many filmmakers to this day.
From there, “Danke Schoen” had a second life after its original chart-topping debut in 1963. It was on the soundtrack of 1999’s drama, A Walk on the Moon, starring Diane Lane and Viggo Mortensen. In 2000, the song was included in the smash Meet the Parents, starring Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro. Other works in this era to feature “Danke Schoen” included Matchstick Men and the TV juggernaut, Friends.
But there are other Newton songs, too. And they have been utilized perfectly in other movies, including two related to Casa de Shenandoah’s geographic locale. The 1997 Neon Metropolis comedy — Vegas Vacation — featured a pair: “Once In A Lifetime” and “Loving You.” 1999’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which stars Johnny Depp, was enhanced by Newton’s version of “Strangers in the Night.” The 2003 holiday classic, Elf, rolls with his cover of “Jingle Bell Rock.”
Of course, however, “Danke Schoen” is the soundtrack gift that keeps on giving. Recently, it’s been heard in the CBS TV drama, Vegas. It was even a part of 2015’s Academy Award-winning The Big Short, which stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt!
There are more instances of Wayne Newton being a Hollywood go-to for soundtrack artistry. Have a fun learning about them on his IMDB page; you’ll be sure to hum a tune or two while reading.