Tony Bennett was born Anthony Benedetto in New York City in 1926. He was 10 years old when his father died, and Bennett dropped out of school at age 16 so he could help support his mother and two siblings. He was drafted in 1944 and fought with the U.S. Army in France and Germany until the end of World War II. Bennett had begun singing as a child, inspired by artists like Bing Crosby, Eddie Cantor, Judy Garland and Louis Armstrong, and during his stint in the armed services he sang with an Army band. After the war the GI Bill allowed him to receive professional vocal training at the American Theatre Wing in New York, which led to the development of his inimitable crooning style and his first breaks as a performer (it was around this time that he began using a modified version of his name). His first hit was "Because of You," which topped the charts in 1951, followed by "Blue Velvet" and "Rags to Riches." Among his many subsequent hits was "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," for which he won Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Solo Male Performance in 1962. Bennett also became known for his live performances, especially his shows in Las Vegas. During the 1980s and 1990s he began making efforts to reach younger audiences without sacrificing his song list of American standards; this led to multiple late-night television appearances and his 1994 "MTV: Unplugged" concert. In 2008 he released "Duets: An American Classic," a 19-track disc featuring collaborations with Elvis Costello, Bono, Diana Krall and other top artists. This was followed by 2011's "Duets II," which included tracks with Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga, Queen Latifah and Willie Nelson. In addition to his music career Bennett is a prolific painter, and his works have been displayed in museums and galleries across the country.
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Name: Tony Bennett