Jazz icon Tony Bennett had a decades-long romance with Susan Benedetto.
Bennett — who was previously married to Patricia Beech between 1952 and 1971 and Sandra Grant between 1971 and 1979 — and Benedetto technically first crossed paths in 1966. The singer noted in his 2016 memoir, Just Getting Started, that Benedetto’s parents, Marion and Dayl Crow, were die-hard fans and attended one of his concerts in New York City when Marion was pregnant with Susan.
“As fate would have it, Marion was pregnant at the time with … Susan!” Bennett, who was 40 at the time of the show, wrote in the book. “It’s a photo we all laugh about, knowing the incredible turn of events that followed.”
After Benedetto — who is 40 years Bennett’s junior — grew up listening to his music, they eventually met for real in 1985 when she attended one of his concerts. Benedetto, then 19, was the president of his fan club and had sweet-talked her way backstage to meet Bennett.
“It tickled me that someone of her age was so devoted to my music,” he penned in his memoir. “I not only agreed to say hello to her backstage but asked her to be my date for the evening, and that’s how it all really began, foreshadowed by a backstage photo taken in 1966!”
Keep reading for a look back at Bennett’s relationship with Benedetto:
Benedetto was over-the-moon to meet her musical idol backstage at one of his concerts. They started dating shortly after their encounter.
After 10 years of dating, Bennett and schoolteacher Benedetto cofounded their joint nonprofit to advocate for arts education.
“I happen to be one of those lucky people who can honestly say that dreams do come true,” she wrote in an October 2013 essay for The Huffington Post. “Being able to work with my husband, Tony Bennett, has been one such dream. Together we founded a nonprofit organization, Exploring the Arts (ETA), to transform the lives of young people through arts education.”
She added: “After more than a decade in New York City, where we have supported the arts programs in 14 public high schools, Tony and I are celebrating ETA’s expansion this year to three additional schools in Los Angeles — another dream come true.”
The pair tied the knot on June 21.
Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and Benedetto became his primary caregiver.
“I have my moments and it gets very difficult,” she later recalled to AARP in 2021. “It’s no fun arguing with someone who doesn’t understand you, but I feel badly talking about it because we are so much more fortunate than so many people with this diagnosis. We have such a good team. Danny handles Tony’s business affairs. We have great doctors, David helping us with the exercise.”
“Every day is different. Tony late at night, sometimes early in the morning, he’s more alert, if I can use that word. So, I’ll tell him, ‘Tone, you’re gonna be on 60 Minutes.’ He’s, like, ‘Great,’” she said. “I said, ‘You remember that show, 60 Min–‘ he’s, like, ‘I do.’ But in any other given moment, he won’t know. … He recognizes me, thank goodness, his children you know, we are blessed in a lotta ways. He’s very sweet. He doesn’t know he has it.”
Bennett’s rep confirmed on July 21 that the musician had died at the age of 96.