A photographer who befriended Tony Bennett and knew him for decades spoke with Local 4 about who he was off the stage.
Linda Solomon has spent her career photographing the most famous people on the planet. Her pictures always reveal an extra layer that just isn’t visible without her lens.
She spent 40 years photographing Bennett, who wasn’t just a subject, but a dear friend.
It all started when she was at Pine Knob in the 80s on an assignment, and was tasked with photographing Bennett. She didn’t want a trite stage shot and asked him if he’d come with her and sit by himself in the pavilion. The shot was magical.
“He was so giving, and that was who he was,” Solomon said. “He has never changed with the great fame for seven decades.”
That picture sparked a friendship that would span 40 years. Solomon captured him at his most personal, when he was painting at his home. Once, while they were working on a series of photos, Bennett grabbed his sketchbook.
“As we were talking, he started sketching,” Solomon said. “I didn’t have a clue he was sketching me, and I looked, and it was such a surprise.”
The sketch sits framed in her living room to this day, along with one of Bennett’s paintings he gave to her and her husband, Barry, for their anniversary.
The man we all saw on stage was the same, if not even more gracious, in person, according to Solomon.
“When you’re a superstar, you don’t want to disappoint your fans, and he never did,” Solomon said. “Quite frankly, he was even more special.”
You can watch Mara MacDonald’s full story below.
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