“I understand a lot of my friends and colleagues are gonna be here so I’m thrilled about it,” Bennett told PEOPLE before the festivities began. “I’m very honored.”
And honored he was – with superstar performances from Bennett’s pals – including Gaga and Wonder, who teamed up for a rendition of his 1970s Motown classic “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.”
The Golden Globe-winning actress also took to the piano for a haunting, stripped-down rendition of her 2009 pop jam “Bad Romance.”
“Happy birthday, Tony,” Travolta said on the carpet. “I love you . I’m so happy I could be here with you on your 90th.”
“Happy birthday to Mr. Bennett,” Couric added. “I can’t wait to give you a big hug!”
And no birthday would be complete without a slice of cake. In Bennett’s case, there were actually two cakes – one decorated with the skyscraper-skyline of New York City and the other with the ocean views of San Francisco in honor of his 1962 hit (and signature song) “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
A replica of the Golden Gate Bridge connected the two, with the sweet versions of the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty also there. Danny Bennett presented his dad with the cake.
Earlier in the day, Bennett was honored at the Empire State Building, where the New York skyscraper put on a special light show set to a score of his biggest hits.
“This is a day I’ll never forget as long as I live,” he told reporters there. “To be treated this way at 90 years old and feel like I’m 19 years old? It’s one of the very special days in my life.”
The birthday festivities for Bennett will continue on Dec. 20, when NBC will air a two-hour tribute concert titled Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best Is Yet to Come.
Bennett’s last birthday special with NBC – Tony Bennett: An American Classic – won seven Emmy Awards back in 2006.
While he may be 90, Bennett said he has no plans to stop his 60-year career anytime soon.
“No, I’ll never retire,” he confessed to PEOPLE. “I just love life and I’m still learning a lot so I just want to keep getting better and better as I get older.”
• Reporting by MAGGIE PARKER