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Tony Bennett’s widow shares their love story and private photos: ‘He was my life’

The late icon and wife Susan Benedetto married in 2007, after more than 20 years together. She became his caregiver after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.
/ Source: TODAY

Less than two weeks after the death of music icon Tony Bennett, his widow, Susan Benedetto (née Crow), is opening up about losing her partner after 38 years together. 

Benedetto spoke about the start of their love story and shared private photos from their decades-long partnership in an interview with TODAY’s Hoda Kotb that aired Aug. 3, what would’ve been her husband’s 97th birthday. Danny Bennett, one of Bennett's sons from a previous marriage, was present for the interview as well.

Tony Bennett
Susan Benedetto shared with TODAY private photos from her love story with late husband Tony Bennett.TODAY

The 56-year-old recalled feeling an instant spark with Bennett, who died on July 21 at the age of 96, after meeting him in 1985 at one of his concerts. Despite their 40-year age gap, the two fell in love and married in 2007. 

“He performed to everybody. He never saw generation gaps or anything. And privately, we didn’t either,” Benedetto said. 

She added, “We just absolutely loved each other. And he was my life. He was my life.”

Benedetto said she is still processing his loss and sometimes feels like she is simply waiting for him to return from a music tour. 

While becoming emotional, she shared, “He didn’t just light up a room. He just loved the room, you know? He just was all love, all love, all the time.” 

The jazz crooner was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016 and his wife acted as his caregiver. Bennett battled the disease until his dying days. (No specific cause of death has been confirmed.) 

Benedetto told Hoda that her husband remembered her in his final moments and continued to express how much he cared for her. She revealed that the last thing he told her was that he loved her. 

"He woke up happy every day."

Susan Benedetto on her late husband, tony bennett

“He would wake up every day and still say that,” she said. “You know, he woke up happy every day. Even if he had had a bad day or night, he didn’t remember it. That was the only blessing.” 

Benedetto said her husband repeatedly said, “‘Susan. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.’”

She is grieving, but she said she does not want people to pity her. 

“I lost my North Star,” she shared. “No reason to feel bad for me, though, because my life has been wonderful.”

She concluded, “I’ll find a way to make sure it stays that way. It’ll just be different forever.”

Read on to learn more about how Benedetto, who was once the president of a San Francisco area fan club dedicated to Bennett, found her soulmate. 

Her parents were huge fans of Bennett

Bennett actually met Benedetto’s parents years before his first encounter with his wife. “The Best Is Yet to Come” singer — who was previously married twice — performed at a concert in New York City in 1966 that Benedetto’s parents, Marion and Dayl Crow, attended.

Tony Bennett

He wrote about taking pictures with the couple backstage in his 2016 memoir, “Just Getting Started." At the time, Marion and Dayl Crow were expecting a child.  

“As fate would have it, Marion was pregnant at the time with … Susan!” the musician said in the book. “It’s a photo we all laugh about, knowing the incredible turn of events that followed.”

Benedetto was born later that year, in September 1966. 

Benedetto met her future husband when she was 19

Almost 20 years after Bennett snapped a picture with her parents, Benedetto also had an opportunity to meet the Grammy-winner backstage at one of his shows in the '80s. 

A 19-year-old Benedetto was eager to come face to face with the “Rags to Riches” vocalist as she was the president of the San Francisco chapter of his fan club at the time, according to AARP. She had followed in her mom’s footsteps — Marion Crow used to be a self-professed “Tonymaniac.” 

Tony Bennett

The outlet reported that Benedetto would call local radio stations and ask them to play Bennett’s songs. She used her presidential credentials to secure the backstage passes. 

Bennett fondly remembered being impressed by Benedetto’s knowledge of his music during their initial meeting in 1985.  

“It tickled me that someone of her age was so devoted to my music,” he recalled 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!”

They dated for over 20 years before marrying

Benedetto and Bennett later started dating and she attended Fordham University and Columbia University’s Teachers College, according to his memoir. 

She became a social studies teacher and taught at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts, her bio on the official website for Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation states. (Gaga and Bennett performed together for years and released multiple albums.)

Tony Bennett
Tony and Susan married in 2007.TODAY

Benedetto and Bennett then co-founded a nonprofit organization called Exploring the Arts in 1999. She highlighted the charity and the importance of teaching young people about the arts in an op-ed she wrote for The Huffington Post in 2013. 

While working on the organization, she also continued teaching and became assistant principal at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, a public high school located in Queens that she founded with Bennett in 2001, her bio on the Born This Way Foundation’s website said. 

Bennett and Benedetto built a philanthropic life together in New York for more than 20 years before they decided to say “I do” in 2007. 

The “Body and Soul” singer married Benedetto in a New York City ceremony, People reported. 

His rep described their nuptials as “private” and “intimate.” The outlet also reported at the time that their honeymoon would be in Italy.

Benedetto became her husband’s primary caregiver in 2021

They enjoyed several years together after their wedding and Benedetto joined her husband for his performances around the world. 

“I was, like, fine. Twist my arm!” she joked to AARP, recalling her husband asking her to come on tour. 

She added, “It’s a great life.”

But in 2015 Bennett told his wife he was struggling to remember some of the musicians’ names on stage. In 2021, his family publicly announced that Bennett had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease five years ago, when he was 90. 

His son Danny Bennett and Benedetto spoke about the diagnosis in the 2021 February/March issue of AARP The Magazine.

Benedetto candidly shared details of her experience taking care of Bennett. “I have my moments and it gets very difficult,” she said. “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.”

Tony Bennett

She witnessed rare moments when her husband seemed like his usual self. 

“There’s a lot about him that I miss. Because he’s not the old Tony anymore,” she said, getting choked up. “But when he sings, he’s the old Tony.”

In October 2021, Benedetto told Anderson Cooper during an episode of “60 Minutes” that they were “blessed” because her husband still remembered her and his four children: Danny Bennett, 69, and Dae Bennett, 68, from his marriage to Patricia Beech and Joanna Bennett, 53, and Antonia Bennett, 49, from his marriage to Sandra Grant Bennett. 

“He doesn’t know he has (Alzheimer’s disease),” she said. 

During the sit-down with Cooper, Benedetto turned to her husband and placed her hand on top of his. “How ya doing handsome?” she sweetly asked. 

“Okay,” he replied before flipping through photo albums. Benedetto pointed out childhood pictures to Bennett. 

Bennett died in 2023, and he sang to Benedetto until his final days 

In her interview with TODAY Aug. 3, Benedetto said that Bennett sang “Because of You,” his first No. 1 song, released in 1951, to her until he died. 

“It bookends his career if you think just musically speaking. That was his first hit. And then that was literally just the last song that he sang,” she told Hoda.

She added, “The music never left him.”