“He doesn’t know he has it”: Susan Benedetto on Tony Bennett’s diagnosis
Susan Benedetto, Tony Bennett’s wife, has revealed that the musical icon “doesn’t know” he has Alzheimer’s disease.
The 95-year-old singer appeared on the US 60 Minutes with Benedetto and interviewer Anderson Cooper, as the show followed his final on-stage appearance with Lady Gaga in August.
“He recognises me, thank goodness, his children, you know we are blessed in a lot of ways,” Benedetto told Cooper. “He’s very sweet.”
Referring to his Alzheimer’s, Benedetto said, “He doesn’t know he has it.”
Bennett’s family revealed in February that he had been living with the disease.
Image: 60 Minutes / YouTube
Benedetto previously said Bennett was unable to understand what the disease is.
“He would ask me, ‘What is Alzheimer’s?’ I would explain, but he wouldn’t get it,” she told AARP Magazine earlier this year.
“He’d tell me, ‘Susan, I feel fine’. That’s all he could process - that physically he felt great. So, nothing changed in his life. Anything that did change, he wasn’t aware of.”
Bennett was first diagnosed in 2017, after he became concerned with his memory a year earlier.
“We came home one night and he said, ‘Susan,’ he said, ‘I’m having a hard time remembering the names of the musicians [who he works with]’,” Benedetto said.
“And so it was unusual and I said, ‘Well do you wanna go see a doctor about it?’ and he said, ‘I do’.”
When Cooper asked Lady Gaga if she thought Bennett’s last performance was “a sad story”, she shared her thoughts on working with the icon.
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) October 3, 2021
“It’s not a sad story,” she said.
“It’s emotional. It’s hard to watch somebody change. I think what’s been beautiful about this, and what’s been challenging, is to see how it affects him in some ways, but to see how it doesn’t affect his talent.
“I think he really pushed through something to give the world the gift of knowing that things can change and you can still be magnificent.”
Gaga and Bennett performed at two sold-out concerts in celebration of his 95th birthday and their second and final album together, Love for Sale.
When asked about the recording process, Gaga told USA Today it was “hard” to talk about, but “it’s important during times like this to be authentic and share the pain of the realities of what it’s like to have a loved one have Alzheimer’s or dementia”.
Tony, this is the last album we will have created together, but the celebration of jazz, and us as musical companions, will live on with me forever. We offer the public “Love For Sale” for free love, to make them smile, because that’s what we’re here for. ❤️ Love, LG pic.twitter.com/VP6QifdrHA
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) September 17, 2021
“I really extend my heart to people going through a similar situation.”
See an excerpt of Bennett, Benedetto and Gaga’s appearance on 60 Minutes here.
Image: @itstonybennett / Instagram