Anthony Dominick Benedetto, known professionally as Tony Bennett, is an American singer of traditional pop standards, big band, show tunes and jazz. He is also a painter, having created works under his birth name that are on permanent public display in several institutions. He is the founder of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, Queens, New York.
Bennett began singing at an early age. He fought in the final stages of World War II as a U.S. Army infantryman in the European Theater. Afterward, he developed his singing technique, signed with Columbia Records and had his first number-one popular song with "Because of You" in 1951. Several tracks such as "Rags to Riches" followed in early 1953. He then refined his approach to encompass jazz singing. He reached an artistic peak in the late 1950s with albums such as The Beat of My Heart and Basie Swings, Bennett Sings. In 1962, Bennett recorded his signature song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco". His career and personal life experienced an extended downturn during the height of the rock music era. Bennett staged a comeback in the late 1980s and 1990s, putting out gold record albums again and expanding his reach to the MTV generation while keeping his musical style intact.
Bennett continued to create popular and critically praised work into the 21st century. He attracted acclaim for his collaborations with Lady Gaga, which began with the album Cheek to Cheek (2014); the two performers toured together to promote the album throughout 2014 and 2015. With the release of the duo's second album, Love for Sale (2021), Bennett broke the individual record for the longest span of top-10 albums on the Billboard 200 chart for any living artist; his first top-10 record was I Left My Heart in San Francisco in 1962. Bennett also broke the Guinness World Record for the oldest person to release an album of new material, at the age of 95 years and 60 days.
Bennett has amassed numerous accolades throughout his career, including 19 Grammy Awards and two Primetime Emmy Awards. He was named an NEA Jazz Master and a Kennedy Center Honoree. Bennett has sold over 50 million records worldwide.
In February 2021, it was revealed that Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2016. Due to the slow progression of his illness, he continued to record, tour, and perform until his retirement from concert performances in August 2021 due to physical challenges.
Bennett died in New York City on Friday, July 21, 2023, at the age of 96. His death was announced by his publicist.