Wayne Newton's role in Bonanza's Christmas episode related to a real-life experience
Just like his role, Newton had to follow his true passion. A passion that led to his hit single "Danke Schoen."
Have you ever heard of a role so perfect that it sounds like it could happen in real life? In Bonanza's holiday-themed episode "A Christmas Story," a young man, Andy Walker, wanted to sing for a living, but his father thought the idea was insane. The young singer was played by Wayne Newton, mostly known for his hit single "Danke Schoen." The part was similar to what he experienced early in his career.
In an interview with The Times Herald in 1966, Newton shared details about how he and his brother stayed determined to fulfill their purpose despite a few bumps along their journey.
"The drama is called 'The Unwritten Commandment,'" he said, referring to the plot of Bonanza's Christmas episode. "It deals with a father-son relationship. The youth wants to be a singer. The father, a farmer, finds the idea frivolous. He believes in hard, honest labor - he wants his son to work the land, like a man."
One thing that set the role apart from his real-life experience was that Newton's parents supported his dreams.
"I've always wanted to be an entertainer; it's the only thing that ever excited me," the singer said. "My brother and I used to pick up a couple of brooms and pretend they were guitars. The main thing in our favor was that we had parents who loved us, sacrificed for us and encouraged us."
However, some people thought being an entertainer wasn't Newton's purpose. His teachers thought he should stay in school, a decision didn't come easy for the singer.
"The teachers told me it was more important to first get an education - they had all the arguments," he added. "It's hard to do the unusual. It's hard to trust your own feelings at such a time."
Deciding to follow his heart, Newton quit school and began performing six shows a night, six days a week, seven months a year. He and his brother took a leap of faith that led them to The Jackie Gleason Show, but it didn't come without hardships. They had to eat 15-cent hamburgers, their instruments were stolen and they walked to save money on subway fare.
Although things were challenging, the singer got his high school diploma and still lived his dreams. He performed at Lake Tahoe with Jack Benny and signed a record deal that resulted in his hit single "Danke Schoen."