EXCLUSIVE: Friars Club to award Tony Bennett highest honor

Posted on Jan 7 2016 - 11:39pm by admin


Singers Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett attend the "Sinatra 100: An All-Star GRAMMY Concert" celebrating the late Frank Sinatra's 100th birthday.Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Singers Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett attend the “Sinatra 100: An All-Star GRAMMY Concert” celebrating the late Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday.

Tony Bennett is to receive the Friars Club’s highest and most rarely awarded honor, [email protected] has learned exclusively.

The “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” crooner will become just the sixth star to accept the Entertainment Icon Award in the legendary private club’s 112-year history.

At a June 20 ceremony, Queens-born Bennett will join the exclusive group that includes Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, Cary Grant, his pal Frank Sinatra and silent-movie superstar Douglas Fairbanks.

In a statement given to [email protected], the crooner said, “It is an absolute thrill to be receiving the Icon Award this year. I have so many wonderful memories of events I attended at the Friars and I look forward to the evening in June.”

A spokesman for the Upper East Side institution for comedians and performers, told us it selected Bennett — who at 89 recently reinvigorated his career by recording and touring with Lady Gaga — because his “accomplishments transcend the entertainment industry by positively redefining the very culture we live in.”

The members gush that as well as racking up a mantle-crushing 18 Grammy Awards, including the lifetime achievement award, Bennett is one of a handful of artists to have new albums chart in each decade from the 1950s through the 2010s.

Tony Bennett performs at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas in December.Ethan Miller/WireImage

Tony Bennett performs at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas in December.

They also note that he joined the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965’s historic Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march and has raised millions of dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, which established a research fund in his name.

With his wife, Susan, Bennett set up the “Exploring the Arts” program to support arts education in public high schools and helped found the city Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, where he grew up.

“The Friars are proud to acknowledge all that Tony Bennett has accomplished throughout his incredibly successful career. And we are thrilled that 50 of those years have been as a member of our legendary fraternal family,” Friars Club Abbot Jerry Lewis said in a statement given to [email protected]

Cruise was presented with the awards at a splashy ceremony in 2012, where stars, including Alec Baldwin and Cuba Gooding Jr., paid tributes from the stage at the Waldorf Astoria.

Last year, De Niro received the honor, with Harvey Keitel and Sharon Stone lining up to celebrate him.



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