Tony Bennett dead at 96: Carrie Underwood, Fran Drescher and Elton John react to iconic singer's passing

The 'I Left My Heart In San Francisco' singer died Friday at age 96

Hollywood is mourning the loss of Tony Bennett.

The singer who successfully led a decades-long career and captivated audiences with "I Left My Heart In San Francisco," died Friday. The star was 96, just two weeks short of his birthday.

Publicist Sylvia Weiner confirmed Bennett’s death to The Associated Press, saying he passed away in his hometown of New York. While there was no specific cause revealed, Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.

"Tony left us today but he was still singing the other day at his piano and his last song was, 'Because of You,' his first #1 hit," his official Instagram revealed. "Tony, because of you we have your songs in our heart forever."

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Tributes for the music icon soon began pouring in on social media.


"Today marks the end of an era, as we say farewell to Tony Bennett," the Amy Winehouse Foundation, established in honor of the late songstress, tweeted

"A true star, a true gentleman and a wonderful friend and mentor to Amy. Thank you for the music Tony. Our love and heartfelt condolences to all his family and friends."

The pair collaborated on Winehouse's last studio recording before her death in 2011 at age 27. Winehouse was captured in the Oscar-nominated documentary "Amy," which showed Bennett patiently encouraging the insecure young singer through a performance of "Body and Soul."

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"So sad to hear of Tony’s passing," Elton John captioned a photo of himself beaming alongside Bennett. "Without doubt the classiest singer, man, and performer you will ever see. He’s irreplaceable. I loved and adored him. Condolences to Susan, Danny and the family."

George Takei took to Twitter, and he described how Bennett endured for generations.

"The great Tony Bennett has passed away at the age of 96," the "Star Trek" actor tweeted. "He was the last of his kind, a master of the American songbook. He may have left his Heart in San Francisco, but he won all of our hearts, from Sinatra to Lady Gaga. Be at peace, and sing to us now from the stars, Tony."


"RIP Tony Bennett," Stevie Van Zandt said on Twitter. "The best of the best. The last of the legends. A man whose heart was as big as his voice. The world’s foremost practitioner of the ‘Art of Excellence.’ Deepest love and condolences to my friend Danny and the family."

"The Nanny" star and SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher also paid her respects on Instagram.

"He exemplified a person who was good as gold, sweet like sugar & a deeply feeling, empathic human being," the actress wrote. "I wish more had the stuff you were made of Tony."

Keith Richards also uploaded a photo of him embracing Bennett in 2015. It was paired with a video clip of the Rolling Stones guitarist sharing his thoughts about the fellow artist.

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The 79-year-old captioned the post, "May you Rest in Peace,Tony Bennett!"

Carrie Underwood, who collaborated with Bennett in "Duets II," also took to social media to mourn the star.

"Rest in peace, Tony," the country music songstress wrote. "You were the epitome of a gentleman with a God given one-of-a-kind voice. It was truly a great honor of my career and of my life to get to share the stage with you…"


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"Well....your journey was complete sir," Viola Davis said on Instagram. "Your greatness was not just measured by your talent but your influence. Generations will be inspired by your work. The angels are rejoicing today by gaining a magnificent choir member. May flights of angels....."

Dee Dee Sorvino, the widow of "Goodfellas" star Paul Sorvino, told Fox News Digital the two men bonded over painting, a passion of theirs.

"Tony and Paul both being Italian, they had a wonderful kinship through the years, and they respected each other's craft as performers and as fellow artists," she shared. "He will be missed. "I can just see my Paul and Tony in heaven now making pasta and singing together."

tony bennett dead at 96 carrie underwood fran drescher and elton john react to iconic singers passing

Nancy Sinatra (right) was among the many stars to mourn the passing of Tony Bennett on social media. (Getty Images)

Michael Bublé remembered Bennett as "one of the greatest vocalists, storytellers and interpreters of all time."

"To say he was an important part of who I became is an understatement," the singer explained. "My grandpa was constantly playing Tony Bennett records when I was growing up, and it was the honor of a lifetime to learn from him. Having my hero take me under his wing was one of the greatest moments of my life and my career. How did I get so lucky to kneel at the feet of the master for 2 decades? Tony, I’ll never stop learning from you, and I promise you I’ll do my best to keep the music we cherish alive. Rest in peace."

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Nancy Sinatra took to Twitter and honored Bennett, who was one of her father Frank Sinatra's favorite artists and contemporaries.

"Tony was one of the most splendid people who ever lived," the singer tweeted. "Kind, loving, talented and generous, he never let us down. Sending my love to Susan, Danny and their family and friends. Tony was a true champion."

In his lifetime, Sinatra praised the fellow crooner.

tony bennett dead at 96 carrie underwood fran drescher and elton john react to iconic singers passing

Frank Sinatra (left) and Tony Bennett (right) performing together, circa 1977. Sinatra died in 1998. (ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

"For my money, Tony Bennett is the best singer in the business," Sinatra told Life magazine in 1965. "He excites me when I watch him. He moves me. He’s the singer who gets across what the composer has in mind, and probably a little more."

Pat Boone also remember Sinatra's feelings about Bennett.

"Frank Sinatra, who we considered the best singer of all time, said that he believed Tony Bennett was the best singer in the entertainment business," Boone told Fox News Digital. "You can’t get a higher accolade or commendation than that from Frank Sinatra.

"Tony was a friend of mine. We worked out at the gym together, and he told me how he vocalized three to four hours a day to keep his chops up, and boy did he. He was the champion. We’re sorry we won’t be hearing more from him because he could still produce even at his later age with Lady Gaga."

tony bennett dead at 96 carrie underwood fran drescher and elton john react to iconic singers passing

Director Martin Scorsese, left, and singer Tony Bennett attend the screening of "La Dolce Vita" at the Tribeca Grand Hotel June 1, 2011, in New York City. (Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)

"Tony Bennett was a consummate artist," Martin Scorsese said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. "All you have to do is listen to any one of his hundreds of recordings to recognize that. Very early on, his music quietly wove itself into the fabric of our lives. His voice felt as familiar and as close as the voices of our loved ones. 

"I know that this was true for millions of people around the world. For Italian Americans who were growing up in the middle of the 20th century, that familiarity ran even deeper. At a certain point, we started to imagine that Tony would live forever. Of course, he didn’t. Nobody does. But the music? That’s another story."

Linda Hope also remembered Bennett, who was discovered by her father Bob Hope at a New York City nightclub in 1949.


tony bennett dead at 96 carrie underwood fran drescher and elton john react to iconic singers passing

Columbia recording artist Tony Bennett as a teen idol. (Bettmann/Getty Images)

"Tony was my mother’s favorite singer," Hope explained. "As most people know, my dad was instrumental in supplying Tony’s first big break in 1949. Dad recognized his talent while seeing him work with Pearl Bailey in Greenwich Village in New York City and asked him to open for him at the Paramount Theatre. His one suggestion was that he change his stage name from Joe Bari to Tony Bennett, as his real name, Anthony Benedetto, was too long for the marquee. Tony had a cool, smiling demeanor and was a champion of the great American songbook."

Billy Joel also remembered his beloved collaborator and friend.

"Tony Bennett was one of the most important interpreters of American popular song during the mid to late 20th century," the singer wrote. "He championed songwriters who might otherwise have remained unknown to many millions of music fans."

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"His was a unique voice that made the transition from the era of Jazz into the age of Pop," the 74-year-old shared. "I will always be grateful for his outstanding contribution to the art of contemporary music. He was a joy to work with. His energy and enthusiasm for the material he was performing was infectious.

"He was also one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever known."

"Very sad to hear about @itsTonyBennett’s passing," Ozzy Osbourne shared, along with a photo of the pair together. "Rest in Peace."

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"We lost one of the greats today," added John Legend. "Tony Bennett was such a wonderful artist and a lovely man. It was an honor to spend time and make music with him."

"An incredible man, musician, and mentor to so many," wrote Josh Groban. "A singer that all singers looked up to. He approached each lyric with a spark of wonderment and play. But he always had a life-long respect for singing and his own one of a kind vocal gift that allowed him to keep blowing us away decade after decade. He will continue to be an enormous inspiration to me and countless others and will be so deeply missed. Thank you for your kindness, wisdom, and music, Tony. What a life."

Stephanie Nolasco covers entertainment at

Authored by Stephanie Nolasco via FoxNews July 21st 2023