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    Rink Remembers: Tony Bennett

    Photos by Rink

    Following the announcement of the passing of beloved singer Tony Bennett on July 21 at age 96, San Francisco Bay Times lead photographer Rink was among fans who fondly remembered attending Bennett’s live performances at the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel’s Venetian Room in years past. Rink covered the 90th birthday celebration for Bennett held outside the Fairmont on August 19, 2016.

    Bennett (1926–2023) was on his way to the Fairmont in 1961 during a tour when he was first presented with the iconic song “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” which he sang in December of that year for the first time—in the Venetian Room. In the audience that night were then San Francisco Mayor George Christopher and future mayor Joseph Alioto. For the next two decades, Bennett always sang the song at his appearances in the Venetian Room.

    For the 2016 commemorative event, a large appreciative crowd of admirers gathered to hear the program led by then San Francisco Chief of Protocol Charlotte Schultz (1933–2021) and former Mayor Willie Brown. The statue of Bennett singing on the lawn of the Fairmont, a favorite attraction of visitors to San Francisco, was unveiled. Bennett attended accompanied by his wife Susan Crow.

    For more about the history behind “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” check out this San Francisco Chronicle story: An AP Archive video shows the Bennett statue unveiling in 2016 and program:

    Rink Remembers
    Published on July 27, 2023