The Patriarch from Queens
An era is ending The great and popular Italian-American singers are dwindling. These are the singers who had Italian-born fathers and, likely, Italian-born mothers. These are the singers who were the first generation to be born in the United States; born to bring vibrant Italian-American voices to the ears of America and the globe. There will be no more. The most prominent of those still singing in 2007 had passed his 80th birthday; but was getting publicity that would be the envy of any artist of any age. Tony Bennett (Anthony Dominick Benedetto) was featured on the cover of parade magazine, had a three-page coverage in TIME and likely only his publicist knows where else. In 2007, he was featured within and on the cover of the AARP magazine, the largest magazine in the world.
His father, Giovanni Benedetto, emigrated from Italy's Calabria region. Tony, who was born in 1926, grew up on the streets of Queens, New York. He was singing publicly before he reached his teen years. From being a singing waiter, Bennett became part of a soldiers' quartet during the Second World War. In 1949, he was invited, by Bob Hope, to become part of Hope's show at the Paramount Theater. The next year Bennett was recording
In 1962 he recorded the song that is as much a part of Tony Bennett as his wavy locks:
Bennett has won several Grammy awards, along with honors from the United Nations and the Kennedy Center. Although he came from an impoverished childhood, he doesn't accumulate expensive objects, owning no car or boat or house.
...The handsome octogenarian is still performing and drawing old and new fans...