Here’s a look at the life of Grammy-winning singer Tony Bennett, famous for his signature song “I Left my Heart in San Francisco.”
Birth date: August 3, 1926
Birth place: Queens, New York
Birth name: Anthony Dominick Benedetto
Father: John Benedetto, grocer
Mother: Anna (Suraci) Benedetto, garment worker
Marriages: Susan (Crow) Benedetto (2007-present); Sandra (Grant) Benedetto (1971-2007, divorced); Patricia (Beech) Benedetto (1952-1971, divorced)
Children: with Sandra (Grant) Benedetto: Antonia, 1974; Joanna, 1969; with Patricia (Beech) Benedetto: Daegal, 1955; D’Andrea “Danny,” 1954
Military: US Army, 1944-1946
Nominated for 36 Grammy Awards and won 18, plus received a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards and won two.
During World War II, Bennett fought in France and Germany and participated in the liberation of a concentration camp. These experiences led Bennett to become a pacifist and anti-war activist.
Suffered from a drug problem in the 1970s.
Is an accomplished painter with artworks on permanent display at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.
His career is managed by his son, Danny, whom Bennett credits with stabilizing his finances and revitalizing his career.
1949 – He performs with entertainer Pearl Bailey at a New York City club and is discovered by Bob Hope. Hope suggests that he adopt the stage name Tony Bennett.
1950 – Signs with Columbia Records. Has a string of hits including chart-toppers “Because of You” and “Rags to Riches” in the early to mid-1950s.
1963 – Wins Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Solo Vocal Performance, Male for song “I Left my Heart in San Francisco.”
1970s – Bennett’s popularity wanes and he is without a recording contract. He also battles drug and financial problems including a large debt owed to the IRS. His son, Danny, takes over as his manager.
1986 – Bennett re-signs with Columbia Records and begins to revitalize his career. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, he finds a new audience of young people and appears on shows such as Late Night with David Letterman and The Simpsons.
1993 – Wins a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance for the album, “Perfectly Frank.”
1993 – Appears on stage with the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the MTV Video Music Awards.
1994 – Wins a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance for the album, “Steppin’ Out.”
1995 – Wins Grammys for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance and Album of the Year for the album, “MTV Unplugged.”
1996 – Wins an Emmy award for Outstanding Performance for a Variety or Musical Program for “Tony Bennett Live by Request: A Valentine Special.”
1997 – Wins a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance for the album, “Here’s to the Ladies.”
1998 – Wins a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance for the album, “Tony Bennett on Holiday.”
1999 – Bennett and Susan Crow, establish Exploring the Arts, a foundation which works with 17 schools in New York City and Los Angeles. Their mission is “to strengthen the role of the arts in public high school education.”
2000 – Wins a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance for the album, “Bennett Sings Ellington – Hot & Cool.”
February 21, 2001 – Is presented with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
2001 – Is commissioned by the United Nations to create a painting for its 50th Anniversary.
2003 – Wins a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for “Playin’ With My Friends – Bennett Sings the Blues.”
2004 – Bennett and k.d. lang win a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for “A Wonderful World.”
2005 – Bennett is a Kennedy Center Honoree.
2006 – Wins a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for “The Art of Romance.”
2007 – Wins a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for “Duets: An American Classic” and a Grammy along with Stevie Wonder for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for song “For Once in My Life.”
2007 – Wins an Emmy award for Outstanding Individual Performance In A Variety Or Music Program for “Tony Bennett: An American Classic.”
2011 – Bennett’s album, “Duets II,” hits number one on the Billboard 200 chart, making him the oldest living artist to achieve that feat.
2012 – Wins a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for “Duets II” and a Grammy along with the late Amy Winehouse for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Body and Soul.”
2015 – Wins a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for “Cheek to Cheek” with Lady Gaga.
February 15, 2016 – Wins a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for “The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern.”
December 20, 2016 – “Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best Is Yet to Come” airs on NBC. The special includes performances by Lady Gaga, Bob Dylan, Madonna, Elton John, Rufus Wainwright, Billy Joel and others.
February 1, 2021 – In an AARP magazine exclusive, Bennett’s family reveals that he began showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in 2015 and was diagnosed in 2016.