A "Special" Tony Bennett

The Energizer bunny has nothing on Anthony Dominick Benedetto who, at age 90, keeps on going. NBC will showcase a two-hour tribute, “The Best Is Yet to Come”  on December 20 to celebrate Astoria, NY singer, Tony Bennett. Lady Gaga, Elton John, Billy Joel, and Aretha Franklin will join the star-studded special for the one-time singing waiter who began his career as Joe Bari and went on to dominate the pop charts and emerge as one of the most beloved crooners of all time. It was Bob Hope, the legendary comic, who suggested he change the name Bari to Bennett.

Probably forgotten in Bennett’s early career was his appearance at Moe’s Main Street in Cleveland or his clothes shopping adventure near Wade Park Manor at Nobby’s at E. 107th and Euclid Ave. His first hit was “Because of You” on Columbia Records in 1951 followed by other Billboard favorites “From Rags to Riches” and “Stranger in Paradise.” Bennett’s signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” topped the charts in 1962. 

Bennett won 17 Grammys, sold more than 50 million records, made several charity appearances, and headlined the September 2004 NOIA Gala attended by 900 people at the State Theater in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square.

“Old Blue Eyes” and “Chairman of the Board” Frank Sinatra offered a   personal judgment, “For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business.”  

While proud of his singing career, Bennett also owns a New York art studio where his painting choices include all things nature, such as Central Park. The changing four seasons are among his favorite scenes.

Another Sunday favorite was recalling spending time with his mother Anna, performing in front of family and listening to the great tenor Enrico Caruso. His father passed away when he was 10-years-old and his family played a staunch supporting role. 

A showbiz favorite was the “Schnozz,” Jimmy Durante, who Bennett says motivated him to go into show business. And show the biz he did - early on performing at the Paramount Theatre in New York - seven shows a day. During his career, Bennett has connected and played for every generation and he “keeps going and going…”