Tony Bennett wears a dark suit onstage

Tony Bennett is struggling in his fight with Alzheimer’s. The legend’s wife Susan Benedetto just gave an update on his condition and it’s disheartening. Here’s what’s happening.

Tony Bennett’s Final Performances

Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017. In August, he headlined back-to-back shows at New York’s Radio City Music Hall with his friend and frequent collaborator Lady Gaga. Not long afterward Bennett’s family revealed that those would be his final live performances. There are worse ways to go out than two big nights at a legendary arena, and it’s a fitting send-off for a friend of Frank Sinatra.

How’s He Doing?

For 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper chose to profile Bennett amid his struggle with Alzheimer’s. The disease has progressed to the point where Bennett cannot hold a conversation or accurately tell his own story. When Cooper congratulates him on the Radio City shows, Bennett is flattered by visibly doesn’t know what Cooper is talking about. He and his family had hoped Bennett would continue to tour as it makes him happy, but the 2020 pandemic forced him to stop. This was hard for everyone.

To get a better handle on the situation, Cooper naturally spoke to Benedetto. For now, she says, “He recognizes me, thank goodness, his children, you know we are blessed in a lot of ways.” Sadly, Benedetto says “he doesn’t know he has it.” Previously he just didn’t understand what the disease was, but now he doesn’t know. This is what you would expect from a 95-year-old after years with the disease.

He Can Still Perform

Fellow music legend Glenn Campbell also suffered from Alzheimer’s. As depicted in the documentary I’ll Be Me, Campbell was still able to perform on stage years into his fight. The same goes for Bennett. He can still remember lyrics perfectly, and still has a deep desire to entertain.

Benedetto explains, “Tony likes to say he’s in the business of making people feel good, and he still is.” His family won’t have him perform in public over an understandable fear of an accident or embarrassment, but privately, he’ll still sing and follow a tune.

How Does Gaga Feel?

Cooper asked Gaga, who’s released multiple albums with Bennett, about his turn. The A Star is Born star says “it’s not a sad story… it’s emotional. It’s hard to watch somebody change.” She takes comfort in seeing his talent still come through, and in the knowledge that “you can still be magnificent” in the face of change.



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