AARP has a remarkable profile of 94-year-old iconic crooner Tony Bennett's battle with Alzheimer's. Diagnosed four years ago, the Bennett family kept it a secret, choosing to reveal it now as the singer's new album with Lady Gaga approaches its release date. The family made the decision without Bennett's input as he "is incapable of understanding the disease."
From John Colapinto:
Bennett himself was seated at a desk along one wall, his chair turned toward the windows as he paged slowly through a coffee-table book open on his lap. Nattily dressed in a blue blazer over an open-collared shirt, dark slacks and white running shoes, he was, at 94, startlingly youthful in appearance and instantly recognizable: the blue, heavy-lidded eyes, the iconic Roman nose, the coiffed salt-and-pepper hair. Missing, however, was the easy, ever-present smile that helped brand him the nice-guy singing idol of his generation — more approachable than the volatile Sinatra, or the jokily "drunken" Dean Martin. Instead, his expression had a masklike impassivity that changed only slightly to dim awareness when Susan, a slim, fine-featured 54-year-old, placed a hand on his shoulder, leaned over and said: "This is John, Tone. He's come to talk to us about the new album." She spoke into his ear, a little loudly perhaps, in a prompting, emphatic register, as if trying to reach her husband through a barrier that had fallen between him and the rest of the world. Indeed she was. He looked expressionlessly into my eyes before returning wordlessly to his book.
It's a lengthy profile of a life that continues to be well-lived, even in the face of an unsparing disease. Bennett and Gaga's album is scheduled for release this spring.
Tony Bennett's Battle With Alzheimer's (John Colapinto/AARP)