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Tony Dominick Benedetto (born August 3, 1926), better known by his stage name Tony Bennett, is an American singer who specializes in traditional pop standards, big band music, show tunes, and jazz music. Additionally, he is a painter, with pieces done under his given name that is on permanent public exhibit in a number of institutions. As the creator of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, Queens, New York, he has influenced generations of musicians and artists.
Bennett began singing at a young age and has continued to this day. He served as an infantryman in the United States Army during the last phases of World War II in the European Theater. The following year, he improved his vocal skills, signed with Columbia Records, and scored his first hit single with “Because of You” in 1951, which peaked at number one on the charts.
Several tunes, including “Rags to Riches,” were released in the first half of 1953. He subsequently improved his approach to include jazz singing, which he calls “jazz singing.” With records such as The Beat of My Heart and Basie Swings, Bennett Sings, reached the pinnacle of his musical achievement in the late 1950s.
Bennett’s hallmark tune, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” was released in 1962 as a single. During the height of the rock music era, both his professional and personal lives went through a prolonged period of decline. Bennett staged a return in the late 1980s and early 1990s, releasing gold-certified albums once more and broadening his appeal to include the MTV generation while maintaining his distinctive musical approach.
Bennett continues to produce widely acclaimed and highly acclaimed work well into the twenty-first century. With the release of the album Cheek to Cheek (2014), he gained widespread attention for his duets with Lady Gaga, with whom he toured in support of the record throughout 2014 and 2015. Bennett surpassed the solo record for the greatest period of top-10 albums on the Billboard 200 chart for any living artist with the release of the duo’s second album, Love for Sale (2021).
Bennett’s first top-10 album, I Left My Heart in San Francisco in 1962, was his first top-10 record. Bennett, who is 95 years and 60 days old, also set a Guinness World Record for the oldest individual to release an album of original material, breaking the previous record of 95 years and 60 days.
Bennett has received various honors over his career, including 19 Grammy Awards (including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001) and two Primetime Emmy Awards. He is now the recipient of a Grammy Award. He has been recognized as a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and as a Kennedy Center Honoree. Bennett has sold more than 50 million records throughout the world.
According to a report released in February 2021, Bennett had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.
In spite of the slow progression of his sickness, he continued to record, tour, and play until he was forced to retire from live concert engagements in August 2021 owing to physical limitations due to his illness.
Life and career
Anthony Dominick Benedetto was born on August 3, 1926, at St. John’s Hospital in Long Island City, Queens, and raised in the neighborhood of Long Island City. The son of grocer John Benedetto and seamstress Anna (Suraci), he was the first member of his family to be born in a hospital, and he was the first member of his family to be born in a hospital.
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When John left Podargoni, a rural eastern district of the southern Italian city of Reggio Calabria, he brought with him his family of six children. Anna was born in the United States in 1899, only a few years after her parents, who were also from the Calabria region, arrived in the country.
Several other relatives joined them as part of the large-scale migration of Italians to the United States. John Jr., Tony’s older brother, and his older sister, Mary, were his closest friends growing up. Because their father was ill and unable to work, the children grew up in a state of destitution. Despite instilling in his son a love of art and literature, as well as sympathy for human suffering, John Sr. passed away when Tony was ten years old.
The experience of growing up during the Great Depression, along with a hatred for the results of President Herbert Hoover’s reign, would lead the youngster to become a lifelong Democrat in adulthood.
Among the musicians, Bennett grew up listening to were Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Judy Garland, and Bing Crosby, in addition to jazz artists such as Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, and Joe Venuti. Bennett is a native of New York City.
His Uncle Dick was a tap dancer in vaudeville, which provided him with an early introduction to the entertainment industry, and his Uncle Frank served as the commissioner of the Queen’s borough library. When he was ten years old, he was already performing, including during the opening of the Triborough Bridge, when he stood next to Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who stroked him on the back of the head.
A second early passion of his was drawing, and he became known as the class caricaturist at P.S. 141, where he anticipated a future career in commercial art. He started singing for money when he was 13 years old, working as a singing waiter in different Italian restaurants in his hometown of Queens.
He attended the School of Industrial Art in New York, where he studied painting and music, and he would later come to appreciate the emphasis placed on correct technique by the school.
However, he dropped out of school at the age of 16 in order to assist his family. He worked as a copy boy and runner for the Associated Press in Manhattan and in a variety of other low-skilled, low-paying positions around the city and surrounding areas. However, he mostly focused on pursuing a professional singing career, returning to the stage as a singing waiter, competing in and winning amateur nights all over the city, and landing a lucrative engagement at a nightclub in Paramus, New Jersey, among other accomplishments.
The United States Army drafted Benedetto in November 1944, during the latter phases of World War II. He served in the Army for four years.
As part of his preparation to become an infantry rifleman, he completed basic training at Fort Dix and Fort Robinson.
Benedetto came into conflict with a sergeant from the South who despised the Italian from New York City, and as a result, he received hard KP duties or BAR cleaning.
After being processed through the massive Le Havre replacement depot, he was assigned as a replacement infantryman to the 255th Infantry Regiment of the 63rd Infantry Division, which was filling in for the heavy losses suffered during the Battle of the Bulge. He was killed in action during the Battle of the Bulge.
He made his way across France and eventually reached Germany. As the month of March 1945 began, he was assigned to the front lines, where he would later describe his experience as “a front-row seat in hell.”
During the German Army’s retreat from the Rhineland, Benedetto and his company saw tough warfare in frigid winter circumstances, often hunkering down in foxholes as German 88-millimeter artillery opened fire.
In late March, they crossed the Rhine and entered Germany, where they engaged in dangerous house-to-house fighting in order to clear away German soldiers; in the first week of April, they crossed the Kocher River and by the end of that month had reached the Danube River.
Several times during his time in the war, Benedetto came dangerously close to losing his life. Afterward, he became a pacifist, writing, “Anyone who thinks that war is romantic certainly hasn’t been through one,” after his wartime experience. later on, you can add, “It was a nightmare that would last forever. ‘This is not life,’ I started just now. ‘This is not the way life should be.'”
At the end of the war, he was involved in the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp in Landsberg, which had also been holding several American prisoners of war from the 63rd Division.
As a member of the occupying force in Germany, Benedetto was assigned to an improvised Special Services band unit that would provide entertainment for the American personnel stationed in the vicinity of the country.
After having dinner with a black acquaintance from high school — at a time when the Army was still racially segregated – he was demoted to the rank of sergeant and assigned to work with the Graves Registration Service.
Following that, he joined the 314th Army Special Services Band, where he performed under the stage name Joe Bari (a name he had started using before the war, chosen after the city and province in Italy and as a partial anagram of his family origins in Calabria). He collaborated with a large number of musicians who would go on to have successful post-war careers.
Benedetto studied acting at the American Theater Wing on the GI Bill after being discharged from the Army and returning to the United States in 1946.
He was instructed in the bel canto singing discipline, which he would use for the rest of his life to keep his voice in good form. The musician continued to perform whenever he could find the opportunity, including while serving tables at a restaurant.
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Based on a suggestion from a teacher at the American Theater Wing, he developed an unconventional approach that involved imitating the style and phrasing of other musicians while singing — such as the saxophone of Stan Getz and the piano of Art Tatum — allowing him to improvise as he interpreted a song.
In 1949, he recorded a few songs under the name Bari for the little Leslie Records label, but the records were not successful.
Pearl Bailey saw Benedetto’s ability and invited him to perform as her opening act in Greenwich Village in 1949.
She had invited Bob Hope to attend the concert, which he accepted. Hope decided to accompany Benedetto on his tour and shortened his name to Tony Bennett to make it easier for people to remember him. Bennett recorded a demo of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” in 1950, and Mitch Miller signed him to the renowned Columbia Records company the following year.
Bennett sought assistance from his sons Danny and Dae after suffering a near-fatal cocaine overdose in 1979. “Look, I’m completely lost here,” he said to them. “It appears that people are not interested in listening to the music I create.”
Danny Bennett, who is also a budding musician, came to the same revelation as well. Quacky Duck and His Barnyard Friends, the band that Danny and his brother had established, had failed, and Danny’s musical abilities were severely hampered as a result.
During this time, he had realized, however, that he possessed a keen sense of business judgment. Meanwhile, his father possessed remarkable musical ability but struggled to make a living from it due to a lack of business judgment and a poor understanding of finances. Danny accepted the position of manager for his father.
Danny was able to bring his father’s finances under control, relocate him back to New York, and begin booking him in universities and tiny theaters in order to distance him from his “Vegas” reputation.
In the end, a successful plan to pay back the IRS debt was put in place after much effort on the part of the company.
In addition, the singer had reconnected with Ralph Sharon, who had previously served as his pianist and musical director (and would continue to work with him until Sharon’s retirement in 2002).
With The Art of Excellence, Tony Bennett had re-signed with Columbia Records, this time with creative autonomy, and had published his second studio album by 1986. This was his first album to chart since 1972, and it became his first to achieve platinum status.
In 1986, Henry Mancini’s theme song “Life in a Looking Glass,” which was performed by Tony Bennett and featured in the film “That’s Life,” received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.
Bennett celebrated his eightieth birthday in August 2006. The celebration of the birthday itself served as an opportunity for publicity, which continued throughout the remainder of the next year.
The album Duets: An American Classic peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart and earned Bennett two Grammy Awards; Bennett performed concerts, including a high-profile one for New York radio station WLTW-FM; a performance with Christina Aguilera and a comedy sketch with affectionate Bennett impressionist Alec Baldwin were done on Saturday Night Live; and a Thanksgiving-time television special Tony Bennett: An American Classic on PBS was broadcast on Thanksgiving Day.
He was presented with the Humanitarian Award by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. During his tenure as a jazz musician, Bennett received the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award in 2006, which is the greatest accolade that the United States can bestow upon a jazz performer.
Bennett made two performances on Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” during the final concerts at Shea Stadium in 2008, and in October, he released the album A Swingin’ Christmas with The Count Basie Big Band, for which he made a number of promotional appearances during the holiday season. With a standing ovation at the conclusion of the final Macworld Conference & Expo for Apple Inc. in 2009, Bennett performed “The Best Is Yet to Come” and “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” to a standing ovation, and later made his Jazz Fest debut at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Bennett was one of over 70 musicians that contributed to “We Are the World 25 for Haiti,” a charity record released in February 2010 to raise funds for the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
The following month, he sang “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” before the third inning of Game 1 of the 2010 World Series at AT&T Park, and he also sang “God Bless America” before the seventh-inning stretch of Game 1.
His performance of “America the Beautiful” at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, D.C. the following day was broadcast on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” 10 years later, in which he reprised his performance.
Bennett’s retirement from performances was announced by his son and manager, Danny Bennett, on August 12, 2021, a week after his 95th birthday and while performing at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Bennett was 95 at the time of the announcement.
Danny noted that, despite the fact that his father was still a talented singer, he was growing physically feeble and ran the risk of collapsing if he continued touring. On September 30, 2021, he will release his final studio album, Love for Sale, which will include another collaboration with Lady Gaga. The album garnered generally positive reviews and debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States.
In his review for The Guardian, Alexis Petridis described Bennett’s performance on the album as “quite extraordinary,” despite the singer’s advanced age and pre-existing health problems.
Bennett set an individual record for the longest period of consecutive top-10 albums on the Billboard 200 chart for any living artist; his first top-10 album, I Left My Heart in San Francisco, was released in 1962 and is the longest-running top-10 album for any living artist.
Bennett, who is 95 years and 60 days old, also set a Guinness World Record for the oldest individual to release an album of original material, breaking the previous record of 95 years and 60 days. Bennett’s final televised performance was alongside Lady Gaga on December 16, 2021, as part of MTV Unplugged, which was broadcast worldwide.
The event, which aired in July in front of a small studio audience in New York City, featured duets from the film Love for Sale, which was filmed the previous July.
According to Bennett’s son Danny Bennett, Bennett continues to rehearse with his music director three times a week, despite his retirement from the stage.
Tony Bennet Wife
Bennett married Patricia Beech, an Ohio art student, and jazz enthusiast, on February 12, 1952, whom he had met the year before at a nightclub performance in Cleveland, the following year.
The wedding took place at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, New York, and more than 2,000 female fans dressed all in black gathered outside the cathedral in faux grief. The marriage had two sons, D’Andrea (Danny, born 1954) and Daegal, both of whom are still alive (Dae, born 1955). Bennett and his wife Patricia divorced in 1965, citing a variety of factors, including Bennett’s excessive travel, as the cause of their split. Bennett and Patricia had two children.
Patricia filed for divorce from him in 1969, claiming that he had committed adultery. In 1971, their divorce was finalized by a court of law.
In 1965, while filming The Oscar, Bennett became involved with promising actress Sandra Grant, who later became his wife. After several years of living together, the pair decided to tie the knot in secret on December 29, 1971, in New York. They had two daughters, Joanna (born 1970) and Antonia (born 1974), and relocated to Los Angeles after their marriage ended in divorce. They were married until 1983 when they divorced.
Bennett began a long-term relationship with Susan Crow, a former New York City school teacher, in the late 1980s, which lasted until the end of the decade.
Susan Marion Crow, born on September 9, 1966, is 40 years younger than Tony and grew up in a family of Bennett admirers; in fact, the singer famously posed with Crow’s mother, Marion, while she was pregnant with her daughter, Susan.
Crow had been the leader of the Bennett fan group in the Bay Area when he was a youngster.
Explore the Arts is a philanthropic organization dedicated to the creation, promotion, and support of arts education, which Bennett and Crow formed with the help of Crow. The Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, which was founded at the same time and named after Bennett’s friend Frank Sinatra, was established in 2001 and has a very high graduation rate due to its dedication to teaching the performing arts.
Bennett and Crow were married in a private civil ceremony in New York City on June 21, 2007, in the presence of former New York Governor Mario Cuomo.
Tony Bennett wife Susan Crow
The acclaimed journalist Anderson Cooper met Tony Bennett and his wife Susan Crow (aka Susan Benedetto) in June, just a few weeks before Tony Bennett’s 95th birthday, for a 60-minute interview with him and his wife.
Crow disclosed to Cooper that Tony is completely oblivious that he has Alzheimer’s disease during their conversation. She expressed herself as follows:
“He recognizes me, thank goodness, and his children, you know, we are extremely fortunate in a variety of respects. He’s a really kind guy. He is completely unaware that he has Alzheimer’s disease.”
Dr. Gayatri Devi, Tony Bennett’s neurologist, diagnosed him with Alzheimer’s disease for the first time in 2017. She told Anderson Cooper the following:
The hippocampus, which serves as the Grand Central Station of memories — as well as the channel via which we recover memories and set down memories — is not functioning properly in this individual.
To the extent that he (Tony Bennett) wants to sing, he should be allowed to do so since it is in his best interests.
how long she has been married to Tony Bennett
Susan Crow, the third wife of Tony Bennett, is 55 years old and has been married three times. She has been his full-time carer for the past fourteen years and has been married to him for fourteen years.
According to records, Crow was born on September 9, 1966, in San Francisco, California. She is around 40 years younger than her husband. Tony has four children from his two prior marriages, despite the fact that the pair has no children together.
Susan Crow relocated to New York City in the mid-1980s to pursue further education in the arts. She is said to have attended both Fordham University and Columbia University throughout her college years.
Following graduation, the star wife began working as an administrative assistant for Merrill Lynch, before finally pursuing a career in teaching and academics at the university level. She is reported to have continued to teach for a period of time following her meeting with Tony Bennett.
Susan assisted Tony in the establishment of a non-profit organization, Exploring The Arts, in 1999. (ETA). It has been stated that she serves as the Board President of the organization, which provides assistance to 17 schools in Los Angeles and New York.
Susan previously established a management company, Creative Artists Management, which she continues to operate today.
How did Tony Bennett and Susan Crow meet?
According to Tony Bennett’s 2016 memoir, Just Getting Started, the nonagenarian singer recounted his 1966 meeting with Susan’s parents.
He penned the following:
“As luck would have it, [Susan’s mother] was expecting her first child at the time, Susan! Because of the wonderful turn of events that followed, it is a photo that we can all chuckle about today.”
The two are said to have met at one of Tony’s concerts while Susan was in her twenties and the singer was in his sixties, according to Just Jared. The couple is said to have been together for about two decades before getting married in 2007.