Decades before they fell in love, Tony Bennett met his wife Susan Benedetto — while she was still in her mother’s belly.
In his new book Just Getting Started, Bennett writes that his first encounter with Benedetto was when her mother was pregnant with her. He was 40 years old.
According to the book (out Tuesday) Benedetto’s parents, Marion and Dayl Crow, were dedicated Bennett fans. In 1966, they attended one of his shows in New York City. The Crows went backstage to pose for a picture with the twinkly-eyed, Italian-American vocalist.
“As fate would have it, Marion was pregnant at the time with … Susan!” writes Bennett. “It’s a photo we all laugh about, knowing the incredible turn of events that followed.”
Benedetto’s parents raised her to the sound of songs like Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and “The Way You Look Tonight.” As a teenager, Benedetto became the president of Bennett’s fan club in the San Francisco Bay Area in California, the book explains. Nineteen-year-old Benedetto finally met her future husband after requesting to meet him backstage after a show.
“It tickled me that someone of her age was so devoted to my music,” Bennett writes. “I not only agreed to say hello to her backstage but asked her to be my date for the evening, and that’s how it all really began, foreshadowed by a backstage photo taken in 1966!”
Bennett had been married twice before and had four children. But that didn’t stop him. He and Benedetto dated for 20 years before getting married in 2007. Though the ceremony was intimate, Benedetto was just happy to marry the man who continues to be her music icon.
“He’s always romantic – every day,” said Benedetto in an interview with PEOPLE.
According to Just Getting Started, the big age difference was never a point of contention for the couple.
“I can’t say that we didn’t notice the age difference when we first met,” writes Bennett. “But I can say that after all of these years together, we don’t notice it much now. We’re compatible in all ways.”
Benedetto, a former public school teacher, worked with her husband to form the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in honor of Bennett’s best friend, Frank Sinatra. They also co-founded the Exploring the Arts charity.
“She’s brought balance and contentment into my life,” writes Bennett of his wife. “Her goodness and the peace at the center of her soul have helped me to think straight, live well, and, I’m quite sure, live longer.”