Tony Bennett dead at 96

Legendary crooner Tony Bennett, known for his smooth voice and popular music, died Friday. He was 96.

Bennett died in his hometown of New York City just two weeks before his birthday, his publicist, Sylvia Weiner, confirmed to Page Six in a statement.

She added that there was no specific cause of death.

“Tony left us today but he was still singing the other day at his piano and his last song was, ‘Because of You,’ his first #1 hit,” a post on his Instagram stated on Friday.

“Tony, because of you we have your songs in our heart forever. ❤”

Tony BennettTony Bennett died Friday at the age of 96.NBCUniversal via Getty Images

The “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” singer — who often said in interviews later in life that he wanted to be remembered as “a nice person” — had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.

“There’s a lot about him that I miss,” his wife, Susan Benedetto, told AARP Magazine in 2021 while sharing the health news for the first time publicly. “Because he’s not the old Tony anymore … but when he sings, he’s the old Tony.”

Tony Bennett on stage. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.Getty Images

Among his many admirers was Lady Gaga, who put out two albums with the musical icon: 2014’s “Cheek to Cheek” and 2021’s “Love for Sale.”

“He’s my friend. He’s my musical companion. And he’s the greatest singer in the whole world,” the “Poker Face” singer, 37, told the crowd during one of their performances.

Gaga was by Bennett’s side during his last performances at Radio City Music Hall in August 2021. He then retired from performing as his health declined.

Lady Gaga and Tony BennettHe released two albums with Lady Gaga.Getty Images for NARAS

Lady Gaga singing with Tony Bennett.Gaga joined him for his last live performance in 2021.Getty Images for Park MGM Las Vegas

Over the span of his decades-long career, Bennett released more than 70 albums, sold more than 50 million records worldwide and won 20 Grammys and two Emmys.

He also broke the Guinness World Record for being the oldest person to release an album of new material, at the age of 95 years and 60 days.

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He was known for many hits including “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Steppin’ Out With My Baby” and duetted with Gaga on standards like “Love for Sale” and “Anything Goes.”

Tony Bennett holding an Emmy. He won 20 Grammys and two Emmys during his legendary career.AP

Bennett, whose real name was Anthony Dominick Benedetto, was born on Aug. 3, 1926, at St. John’s Hospital in Long Island City, Queens.

He was the youngest child of grocer John Benedetto and seamstress Anna Benedetto and grew up with older sister Mary and older brother John Jr.

He and his siblings were raised in poverty during the Great Depression as their father’s health declined. John Sr. died when Tony was just 10 years old.

Tony BennettHe started singing when he was 10.Bettmann Archive

Bennett, who grew up listening to artists like Bing Crosby, Judy Garland and Louis Armstrong, found a love for music early on.

At the age of 10, he performed at the opening of the Triborough Bridge beside Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. And by 13 years old, he was singing for money as a waiter in several Italian restaurants in his Queens neighborhood.

He attended New York’s School of Industrial Art, where he studied painting and music until dropping out to help support his family and continued to perform amateur gigs all over the city until he was drafted into the United States Army in November 1944 during World War II.

Tony Bennett and Judy GarlandThe singer was heavily influenced by artists like Bing Crosby and Judy Garland.Bettmann Archive

Upon the war’s end, he was involved in the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp near Landsberg, Germany.

After the war, he made his way back to music and studied at the American Theatre Wing on the GI Bill.

Bennett got his big break in 1949 when he was discovered by Pearl Bailey, who asked him to open for her in Greenwich Village. During their performance, Bob Hope was in the crowd and decided to take Bennett on the road with him.

Tony Bennett performing on stage.The crooner caught his big break in 1949.Michael Ochs Archives

From there, Bennett recorded a demo of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and was signed to Columbia Records in 1950.

In 1952, Bennett married Ohio art student and jazz fan Patricia Beech and welcomed two sons: D’Andrea (aka Danny), born in 1954, and Daegal (aka Dae), born in 1955.

He and Beech separated in 1965, and the following year she sued him for divorce on grounds of adultery. They settled their divorce in 1971.

Tony Bennett in a throwback photo.Bennett was married three times.Redferns

Bennett quietly married aspiring actress Sandra Grant on Dec. 29, 1971. They welcomed two daughters together — Joanna in 1970 and Antonia in 1974 — but ended their marriage in 1983.

He moved on with former New York City schoolteacher Susan Benedetto (née Crow), whom he married on June 21, 2007. Together, the couple founded the charitable organization Exploring the Arts as well as the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens.

Benedetto remained by Bennett’s side until the end. “The Way You Look Tonight” artist is survived by his wife, four kids and nine grandchildren.

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