Born to Italian immigrant parents in Astoria, Queens, Tony Bennett, née Anthony Benedetto, was raised with a drive to thrive. His gift for singing lifted him from a childhood in poverty to a lifetime of massive success as one of the greatest music artists of the 20th century. Now he gives back to the arts community in more ways than one, and this year’s Gap Holiday campaign by Milkt Director Danny Clinch celebrates Tony, his Exploring the Arts Foundation, and the next generation of rising artists.
Here’s some fascinating trivia about this music mogul’s multifarious life:
He has served more than music.
He fought in the U.S. Army infantry in the last stages of World War II. He aided in the liberation of the Landsberg Concentration Camp, that also held some American prisoners of war. Upon his return to the States and discharge from the Army, he began studying at the American Theater Wing on the GI Bill.
He puts down the mic to pick up the paintbrush.
Tony Bennett is also a revered painter under his birth name, Anthony Benedetto. His works are on permanent display at multiple elite art institutions. This oil painting, Central Park (1998), is at the Smithsonian.
He got some hope from Hope.
Actress and Singer Pearl Bailey recognized Anthony’s talent and asked him to open for her in Greenwich Village in 1949. She had invited Bob Hope to the show, who took Benedetto on the road with him and shortened his name to Tony Bennett.
The ladies love him.
When he married Ohio art student and jazz fan Patricia Beech at NYC’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1952, a crowd of 2000 female fans gathered outside, dressed in black, mourning the loss of the star’s single status.