Tony Bennett turned 90 today, and he’s still going. His father was a Queens grocer and his mother was a seamstress. I doubt that they could have imagined the life their son would lead or the world that he’s living in today. After fighting in World War Two and helping to liberate a concentration camp, his career as a singer was launched by Pearl Bailey and Bob Hope. It was apparently Hope who anglicized his name from Anthony Benedetto.
The war made him a pacifist and having the still-segregated army demote him for eating with his black childhood friend made a lasting impression on him. Later on, Henry Belafonte Jr. convinced Bennett to march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and that’s how he wound up at Selma.
I could write all day about what a talent and overall great guy Tony Bennett is, but I’ll just wish him a very happy birthday and let him sing for us.
NBC will air his birthday shindig on Dec. 20th.