Tony Bennett is an artist who moves the hearts and touches the souls of audiences. Hes not just the singers singer but also an international treasure honored by the United Nations with its Citizen of the World award, which aptly describes the scope of his accomplishments.The son of a grocer and Italian-born immigrant, Anthony Dominick Benedetto was born on August 3, 1926, in the Astoria section of Queens, New York. He attended the High School of Industrial Arts in Manhattan, where he nurtured his dual passions, singing and painting. His boyhood idols included Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole, both big influences on Bennetts easy, natural singing style. Tony sang while waiting tables as a teenager then performed with military bands throughout his overseas Army duty during World War II. After the war, the GI Bill enabled him to study vocal technique at the American Theatre Wing School. The first time he sang in a nightclub was 1946 when he sat in with trombonist Tyree Glenn at the Shangri-La in Astoria.Tonys big break came in 1949 when comedian Bob Hope noticed him working with Pearl Bailey in Greenwich Village. As he recalls, Bob Hope came down to check out my act. He liked my singing so much that after the show he came back to see me in my dressing room and said, Come on kid, youre going to come to the Paramount and sing with me. But first he told me he didnt care for my stage name (Joe Bari) and asked me what my real name was. I told him, My name is Anthony Dominick Benedetto, and he said, Well call you Tony Bennett. And thats how it happened. A new Americanized name, the start of a wonderful career and a glorious adventure that has continued for sixty years.
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