American singer Tony Bennett passed away at the age of 96 in his Manhattan home, after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016.
His publicist, Sylvia Weiner, announced his death. The jazz singer, beloved for his charm and consistency, proudly spent eight decades in the spotlight and won 19 Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award, and even two Primetime Emmy Awards.
Bennett started his career at just 15 years old, becoming a singing waiter at a New York City restaurant, telling CNN’s Larry King in 1998, “I just decided that I would love to become successful, and if I didn’t, I’m going to do this the rest of my life. I loved it.” His love for songwriting and performing earned him the approval of Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra, with the former crooner being the reason Anthony Dominick Benedetto chose the stage name “Tony Bennett.”
He became an international success in 1962 after releasing I Left My Heart in San Francisco, though he imagined it would only be appreciated by San Francisco natives. Despite years of performing the signature tune, he never tired of it and still insisted he loved to perform the song. To celebrate Bennett’s 90th birthday, San Francisco unveiled a statue for the crooner in front of the Fairmont Hotel, where he first performed the song.
Most recently, Bennett collaborated with actress, musician, and fellow pop icon Lady Gaga. The artists came together to create two albums: Cheek to Cheek in 2014 and Love for Sale in 2021, earning Bennett his last-ever Grammy win for their second album in 2022. Bennett’s final time on stage was with Gaga in 2021, when they performed two sold-out shows at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Gaga said of their final performance, “It was absolute magic, I was so moved. I had to work a lot on breathing because I wanted to cry almost all the time.”
Despite years of ailing health, Bennett refused to retire and instead continued to share his talent with the rest of the world. Bennett is survived by his wife, Susan Benedetto; his four children, Danny, Dae, Johanna, and Antonia; and his nine grandchildren.