Tony Bennett Called Lady Gaga By Name During Final Performance Despite Alzheimer’s

@60Minutes via Twitter

It can be hard to watch people we love, respect and admire grow old and battle illnesses. Alzheimer’s can be an especially difficult disease for families because often the person with Alzheimer’s doesn’t remember things that they used to know. In some cases, they don’t even recognize their family members.

Tony Bennett has been battling Alzheimer’s since 2016, but according to his wife, Susan Benedetto, “He doesn’t know he has it.” In a 60 Minutes special, Benedetto explained that she feels “blessed” because he recognizes her and his children. Yet, life isn’t always easy.

In August, Bennett performed at Radio City Music Call with Lady Gaga. Back stage, Benedetto was seen reminding her husband that he was going to be performing. She wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but thankfully, as soon as he was on stage, he knew what he was supposed to do.

Benedetto explained, “Once he saw the audience, and you know, and he raises his hands, I knew we were alright. Because he became himself. He just turned on. It was like a light switch.”

Just because Bennett “turned on” when he was on stage doesn’t mean that his memory was back completely. Lady Gaga, who has collaborated with Bennett on multiple projects, shared that she wasn’t always sure if he knew who she was. Lady Gaga explained that he often called her “sweetheart” instead of saying her name.

During the duo’s final performance in August at Radio City Music Hall, something very special happened. Bennett was already on stage. Then Lady Gaga walked on stage, greeting him by saying, “Hey, Tony.” What he said to her made her quite emotional; although, she knew she had to keep it together for the sake of the show.

Bennett greeted Lady Gaga by saying, “Woah, Lady Gaga!” She responded by laughing and twirling around the stage. Bennett said, “I like that! Do it again!” She twirled some more. 

In an interview for the 60 Minutes special, Lady Gaga explained, “That’s the first time that Tony said my name in a long time.”

At the end of the night, Lady Gaga walked Bennett off the stage. She later said, “Just simply being the woman that got to walk him off stage, that’s enough for me.” 

Watch the following clip from the 60 Minutes special to hear more about how touched Lady Gaga was when Tony Bennett said her name on stage.