Legendary entertainer, true New Yorker Tony Bennett dies at 96

Singer Tony Bennett holds up a proclamation given to him in 1981 by the City of San Francisco naming his hit "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" the theme song of the city on April 4, 1984. Bennett was reacting to the San Francisco Board of Supervisor's vote to officially change the song to "San Francisco, Open Your Golden Gate." File Photo by UPI | License Photo

July 21 (UPI) -- Famed entertainer Tony Bennett died Friday in New York City after a battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 96.

His publicist, Sylvia Weiner, announced his death to The New York Times.


Variety also confirmed his death, but did not disclose the exact cause.

Born Anthony Dominick Benedetto in the New York City borough of Queens, Bennett was a World War II veteran who went on to enjoy a music career that spanned more than 70 years and earned him 19 Grammy Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards and a Kennedy Center Honor.

Bennett was best known for his songs, "I Left My Heart In San Francisco," "Because of You," "Rags to Riches," "Stranger in Paradise," "Blue Velvet" and "There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight."

He also was an accomplished painter whose original works are part of the Smithsonian Institute's permanent collection. His autobiography, The Good Life, was published in 2020.


The pop and jazz singer was a sought-after guest on variety and chat shows, as well as a draw at charity events.

Bennett revealed his 2016 Alzheimer's diagnosis in an interview with AARP magazine in February 2021.

As the story broke, he tweeted: "Life is a gift -- even with Alzheimer's. Thank you to Susan and my family for their support, and @AARP The Magazine for telling my story."

Bennett continued to tour until the coronavirus pandemic shut down live performances in 2020. He officially retired from public life at age 95 in August 2021 after a pair of triumphant farewell concerts he headlined with his frequent collaborator Lady Gaga at New York City's Radio City Music Hall.

Bennett had been expected to go back on the road to perform six more solo concerts that were postponed because of the pandemic, but his son and manager Danny Bennett told Variety after the Gaga gigs, "There won't be any additional concerts."

"This was a hard decision for us to make, as he is a capable performer. This is, however, doctors' orders," the younger Bennett added.

"He'll be doing other things, but not those upcoming shows. It's not the singing aspect but, rather, the traveling. Look, he gets tired. The decision is being made that doing concerts now is just too much for him. We don't want him to fall on stage, for instance -- something as simple as that."


Love For Sale, Bennett and Gaga's second album of duets, was released in October 2021. They previously collaborated on the album Cheek to Cheek in 2014.

One of the last actions New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took before he resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal was to declare Aug. 3, 2021 -- Bennett's 95th birthday -- Tony Bennett Day.

"Music and the arts have long been an essential piece of the fabric of New York, and you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has made more of a contribution in this space than Tony Bennett," Cuomo said at the time.

"Not only is Tony a born and bred New Yorker who has been dazzling audiences with beautiful music for more than six decades, but he has always stayed true to his humble New York roots and can always be spotted throughout the city, whether he is working on his next painting in Central Park, or just chatting with fans on the street.

"From growing up as a child of immigrants, to all the contributions he has made to our community, Tony Bennett is a New Yorker in the truest sense of the word."

Bennett is survived by his third wife, Susan, and four adult children -- Danny, Dae, Antonia and Joanna.


Bennett and his spouse also established the Exploring the Arts program to support arts education in public high schools, which was initiated by the creation of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens.

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Lee Sun-kyun arrives at a photocall for "Parasite" during the Cannes International Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 22, 2019. The South Korean actor died at the age of 48 on December 27. Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

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