Edit
Tony Bennett Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trivia (33)  | Personal Quotes (30)

Overview (4)

Born in Astoria, Queens, New York City, New York, USA
Birth NameAnthony Dominick Benedetto
Nicknames Joe Barry
Joe Bari
Height 5' 7½" (1.71 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Tony Bennett, one of the legends of jazz and popular music who served during the Second World War and then developed a career spanning over half a century, is now giving another concert tour across the United States and Europe.

He was born Anthony (Antonio) Dominick Benedetto on August 3, 1926, in Astoria, Queens, in New York City. His father, Giovanni "John" Benedetto, was a grocer, his mother, Anna Maria (Suraci), was a seamstress, and his uncle was a tap dancer. His parents were both from poor farming families in Calabria, Italy. Young Tony gave a singing performance at the opening of the Triborough Bridge at the age of 10. He studied music and painting at the New York High School of Industrial Arts but dropped out at the age of 16. He had to support his family and he performed as a singing waiter in Italian restaurants.

During the Second World War Tony Bennett was drafted into the US Army. He served on the front lines until April 1945 and was involved in the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp at Landsberg, Germany. After the WWII he sang with the Army military band under the stage name "Joe Bari" until his discharge and return to the US in 1946. He studied the Bel Canto singing discipline at the American Theater Wing on the GI Bill and continued singing while waiting on tables at New York restaurants.

At the beginning of his career he drew from such influences as Judy Garland, Louis Armstrong, and Bing Crosby among others and eventually created his own style of singing. He also integrated jazz-style phrasing into his singing by imitating the instrumental solos with his own voice.

In 1949, Bennett was invited on a concert tour by Bob Hope, who suggested him to use the name Tony Bennett. In 1950, he was signed to Columbia Records and made his first big hit 'Because of You', produced by Mitch Miller with orchestration by Percy Faith. It sold over a million copies, reaching #1 in 1951 pop charts. His other #1 hits were 'Blue Velvet', 'Rags to Riches', and "Stranger in Paradise" in 1952-54. Bennett was able to do five to seven shows a day in New York to crowds of screaming teenagers.

In 1956, he hosted The Tony Bennett Show (1956), which replaced Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall (1948). He continued making recordings with the top jazz musicians of the day and his collaboration with Count Basie brought two albums, with 'Chicago' and 'Jeepers Creepers' becoming popular songs. His landmark concert at the Carnegie Hall in June of 1962 featured 44 songs and was accompanied by an all-star band. The same year he released 'I Left My Heart in San Francisco', which remained on the charts for a year and has become his signature song. The eponymous album became a gold record.

Bennett had a change of fortune after 1964, with strong competition from The Beatles and the British Invasion. In 1965, he separated from his first wife, artist Patricia Beech, with whom he had two sons. The marriage did not work under the pressures of being too much on the road and eventually ended in divorce. At the same time, his first acting role in the film The Oscar (1966) was not a success; he received poor reviews, and the film was lambasted by critics, ignored by audiences and became one of the biggest flops of the year. His singing career took a downturn when his bosses at Columbia Records, worried about competition from The Beatles, forced him to change his image and style, which pleased no one. He left Columbia in 1972. A brief contract with MGM Records yielded no hits, and Bennett was left without a recording job.

He married again. He started his own record company and made two highly praised albums with Bill Evans. He moved to England for a while, where he once performed for the Queen. Back in the US, Bennett found only one regular gig in Las Vegas, but no recording deals or concert tours. His debts grew to the point of bankruptcy, and the IRS was trying to seize his house in L.A. By the late 1970s, his second marriage to actress Sandra Grant, with whom he had two daughters, was failing. He also suffered from a drug addiction, and after an overdose in 1979, he called for help from his son Danny Bennett. Danny signed on as his father's manager, and it turned out to be a smart move.

Tony Bennett rejuvenated his career by bringing back his original style, tuxedo and the Great American Songbook. He staged a strong comeback during the 1980s and 1990s, signed with Columbia again, and made two gold albums in 1992 and 1993, and developed a surprising and loyal following among audiences in their 20s and 30s. He also received a Grammy Award, the first since 1962. He again performed and recorded with Frank Sinatra, and extended musical collaboration to gigs with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Elvis Costello, and k.d. lang among others. Bennet also appeared as himself on MTV's documentary series Unplugged (1989) in 1994 and 2000.

His resilience and successful comeback became a sensation in the modern day entertainment industry. Bennett appeared as himself in the films Analyze This (1999), The Scout (1994), and Bruce Almighty (2003). He has sold over 50 million records worldwide, was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame (1997), published an autobiography "The Good Life: The Autobiography of Tony Bennett" (1998), received a lifetime achievement award from ASCAP (2002), and was the recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor in December of 2005. Honored by the United Nations with its Citizen of the World award, he is widely considered an International treasure.

On his 80th anniversary, Tony Bennett enjoyed congratulations from millions of fans from all over the world. In November 2006, Bennett hosted a Gala-party in his honor at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. There he enjoyed live performances by numerous celebrities. The party came to culmination when Mr. Bennett entertained his guests by singing his best known hits: 'I Left My Heart in San Francisco' and 'What A Good Life.'

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Family (3)

Spouse Susan Benedetto (21 June 2007 - present)
Sandra Grant (29 December 1971 - 13 July 1979)  (divorced)  (2 children)
Patricia Ann Beech (12 February 1952 - 18 October 1971)  (divorced)  (2 children)
Children Antonia Bennett
Danny Bennett
Dae Bennett
Joanna Bennett
Relatives Kelsey Bennett (grandchild)
Rémy Bennett (grandchild)

Trivia (33)

Well known for hit ballads like "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" (a come back hit released in 1962), and "Rags to Riches" (released in 1954).
Was a close friend of Frank Sinatra.
Bob Hope suggested Tony change his stage name from "Joe Bari" to "Tony Bennett."
On May 20, 2002, he received the Pied Piper lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
In 2001 he founded The Frank Sinatra High School of Performing Arts in Queens, NY, named after his long-time friend Frank Sinatra.
Inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1997.
He is an accomplished painter with an art studio in New York City, USA.
Recipient of the 2005 Kennedy Center Honors. Other recipients were Robert Redford, Tina Turner, Suzanne Farrell, and Julie Harris.
Despite his hit ballad song, "I Left My Heart In San Francisco," he was actually born in New York.
His daughter Antonia Bennett has sung alongside her father since the age of four.
Co-founder, with his wife Susan Benedetto (nee Susan Crow), the charitable organization, "Exploring the Arts".
Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and his wife, Matilda Cuomo, were witnesses to the civil ceremony between Tony & Susan Benedetto (nee Susan Crow).
On Jan. 4, 2007, he sang "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" at the celebrations for the inauguration of Nancy Pelosi as first female Speaker of the House of Representatives.
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 1560 Vine St.
He was inducted into the 2011 New Jersey Hall of Fame for his contributions to the Arts and Entertainment Industry.
His chance to perform at the Triborough Bridge opening in 1936 was arranged by his uncle Frank, the Queens Borough library commissioner. There he stood next to and received pats on the head from legendary Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.
When 85-year-old Bennett's album "Duets II" topped the Billboard 200 chart in September of 2011 he became the oldest living artist in history to capture the peak position. The record had previously been held by Bob Dylan, whose "Together Through Life" (2009) debuted at #1 when Dylan was 67. In September 2014 Bennett broke his own record at age 88 when his duet album "Cheek to Cheek" with Lady Gaga also debuted at #1.
Signs his paintings/portraits simply "Benedetto", his birth name.
In 2011 his Belvedere (CA) mansion--9500 sq.ft / 5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, 7-car parking) went on sale with an asking price of $27.5 million.
With his 15th and 16th wins at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards--Best Pop Duo/Group Performance (with Amy Winehouse) for "Body and Soul" and Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for "Duets II"--Bennett captured the record for the longest Grammy participation span of 49 years between wins.
Father, with Patricia Ann Beech, of son Danny Bennett, who is also Tony's manager.
In 2011 when he recorded "Body and Soul" with Amy Winehouse for his "Duets II" album, it would mark her final recording before her untimely death. The age gap between both artists was just over 57 years.
As of November 2010 he was living in Englewood, NJ, USA.
Tony's duet with wunderkind Jackie Evancho on "When You Wish Upon a Star" marked a unique collaboration, considering the age gap between both artists was over 73 years.
His favorite movie is The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948).
Lifelong supporter of the Democratic Party.
Nearly died after overdosing on cocaine in 1979.
Winner of the 2017 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
Friends with Joe Mantegna.
His sons Danny and Robert act as his managers and operate as rock band Neon.
His idols were Fats Waller, , Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra.
In the 1980 book "The Golden Turkey Awards" by Harry and Michael Medved, Tony won the award for "The Worst Performance by a Popular Singer" for his role as Hymie Kelly in the 1966 film "The Oscar".

Personal Quotes (30)

I only met Bing Crosby once. He called me the best singer he'd ever heard.
It's an interesting thing. When Coretta Scott King passed away recently they had a memorial where they refreshed people's minds about Martin Luther King, and the idea of non-violence. And now in America you're suddenly seeing war movies again on TV--they never showed war movies until recently--and how great it is to be patriotic. It's wrong. The day and age we live in now, it's all full of fear and frightening feelings. It's the opposite of [Franklin D. Roosevelt] saying, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself". Now we're saying, "Look out, this is going to happen". We're being told, "Get frightened". This business of machoism is ridiculous. I'm not interested in that. I search for truth and beauty in what I do.
[about his military service during World War II] It gave me a social conscience. And the war itself made me a pacifist; I just know that every gun in the world should melt somehow and as soon as possible. But that looks impossible now.
When you're young you think, "What shall I do--the movies, a sitcom?" But that went away. I did Hollywood for a while and had the great pleasure of taking advice from Fred Astaire and Cary Grant--two of the classiest guys that ever lived--and they both told me how to play so you don't get overexposed. Cary Grant told me, "Just do cameos in films, it's the most boring business in the world". He said, "Just go and become a performer in front of audiences--you're alive, they're cheering you". I liked it when they asked [him], "Why did you retire?" and he said, "I got tired of walking on cables".
But what's interesting to me is knowing the past masters that I knew--Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, and I'm really name-dropping here--when they were my age, even before that, in their early 70s, they were very prestigious, but it was very difficult for them to get a film or make a recording. My son acquired about six months ago a huge contract with Columbia/Sony which goes into millions of dollars for two albums over a four-year period, and then if I do two more after that they'll give me an extra half a million for each album. That's unheard of for someone of my age! He's got it turned around to a point where I've never been more exposed and out there. Last year was the most successful year in my life in show business, and it was also the most tragic, because my sister and brother died. It's just life. [William Shakespeare] said that. It's the yin and yang of life. No matter how successful it is, there's always something that says, "Whoops!".
I have traveled around the world to Asia and Europe. They show you what they have contributed to the world. The British show you theater, the Italians show you music and art, the French show you cooking and painting, and the Germans show you science. The only thing that the United States, which is still a young country, has contributed culturally to the world is jazz--elongated improvisation. It's tragic. Fifty years from now people will be bowing to Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, just like impressionist painters like Mone Divine, who were starving in their day. The Americans don't even know what they have come up with.
We all know how wonderful Peggy Lee sings, but let's not forget what a great composer she is as well.
[1987, on Judy Garland] She was the very best there was. In our profession, no one could command an audience the way she did. Of course, she had the most marvelous training. At MGM there were so many people to tell her what to do, how to make the best of herself. Tragic? Oh yes.
I sing in Asia and I sing in Europe, and I start singing a Cole Porter song or a Gershwin [George Gershwin] song and the whole audience starts singing it with me. They are America's greatest ambassadors. We have created the greatest popular music that has ever been written and will not be topped because it's not dated. It doesn't sound old-fashioned, it's not old. The corporations will say, "That's old music". It's NOT old music, it's great music and it comes out of the United States.
[on Amy Winehouse] Of all the contemporary artists I know, she has the most natural jazz voice, but I'm worried about her and I'm praying for her. She'd help everyone by sobering up and cleaning up her spirituality.
[at Amy Winehouse's death] She was an extraordinary musician with a rare intuition as a vocalist. When we recorded together she gave a soulful and extraordinary performance. I was honored to have the opportunity to sing with her.
God forbid, if something happened and I couldn't sing well I would just paint for the rest of my life.
[on being asked to perform in films] Because I'm Italian-American they were all gangster movies. I didn't want to put my [people] down. I'm the only guy that didn't like The Godfather (1972). I didn't like The Sopranos (1999). I don't like that Jersey thing they've got going.
[on the massive rock-and-roll concert scene] When the music executives saw how much money they could make, they went into ballparks and giant outdoor venues. The more people they got, they acted like they're bigger than anybody else. My answer to them is: "Adolf Hitler had more people than that, and he was lousy".
My ambition is to actually sound better as I get older. It's all about meaning it more, giving it more depth. Being genuine.
The audience is never cold. If they're cold that means you're cold. You gotta walk out there energized. [Frank Sinatra] taught me that years ago.
For many years I was told I wasn't doing disco or whatever. I just kept singing good songs. I was turned down by an awful lot of fellows in the record business, who would tell me, "You're not what's happening". I'd say, "Well, it's going to last somehow, I know it". And it did. I feel very gratified for it.
You're only as good as your next show. You never know, quite what's happening. You need butterflies.
If you don't care whether the audience is going to respond right back at you, you're a fool. The ones who fail are the ones who don't care whether you like it or not.
[on painting] It's everything to me. To have a view on Central Park and watch the four seasons and the great vastness of the sky--it changes every day. Rembrandt said it: "There's only one master--that's nature". It gives me unbelievable subjects to study and paint.
[on attempting to categorize popular music generationally] I'm anti-demographic. I never liked it when [record labels] split it up and said, "This is your music, and your parents like something else". I thought that was an incorrect way of treating the public. You know, if you're an entertainer, you're really just supposed to sing to an audience. You don't care what the their ages are. That's almost a Nazi attitude.
In the '20s, '30s and '40s, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and Cole Porter would not have anyone else introduce their songs except Fred Astaire. He was their favorite. The songs were a renaissance in our young country. The public still doesn't realize that it's the best thing that we've ever contributed to the rest of the world. Because everybody in the world, no matter where I go, loves those songs. They know them. I'm convinced that 35, 40 years from now popular music--what the British call light entertainment--will be called America's classical music.
[in 2014] The songs that are written today, most of them are terrible. It's a very bad period musically throughout the world for popular music. The corporations took it over and they want to make so much money and they don't care whether the public likes it or not. They think the public is ignorant, so their attitude is, "Don't give them anything intelligent because it won't sell".
[on K.D. Lang] When she sings I actually see angels.
I learned something from watching Judy Garland. She knew the secret: a performer is a mirror. As much as you feed the audience, that's how much you're going to get back. When she came out on that stage, wherever it was, she loved the audience so much...that's how much intensity came back to her. And that's where I learned that a performer is nothing but a reflection of the audience...Judy did that better than anyone else.
To start a war in Iraq was a tremendous, tremendous mistake internationally.
The Germans were frightened. We were frightened. Nobody wanted to kill anybody when we were on the line, but the weapons were so strong that it overcame us and everybody else.
But who are the terrorists? Are we the terrorists or are they the terrorists? Two wrongs don't make a right. They flew the plane in, but we caused it. Because we were bombing them and they told us to stop.
I'm anti-war. It's the lowest form of human behavior.
The first time I saw a dead German, that's when I became a pacifist. It was a nightmare that's permanent. I just said, 'This is not life. This is not life.'

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

View agent, publicist, legal and company contact details on IMDbPro Pro Name Page Link

Contribute to This Page


Recently Viewed