Barry Manilow was a heartthrob musician for decades, snatching the hearts of female fans around the world with his mesmerizing vocals. It came as a shock to many of them that the singer suddenly revealed his 39-year relationship with a man with whom he shares a child and wed at 71.
Barry Manilow, born Barry Alan Pincus to a single mom named Edna Manilow, rose to fame after his pop-rock ballad "Mandy" hit the charts. Since then, he was constantly under the spotlight, snatching the hearts of his millions of female-dominated fans.
It was a shock to many that he suddenly revealed his 39-year relationship with a man, especially since he was once married to his high school sweetheart, Susan Deixler. Their relationship was once highly-publicized, as fans enjoyed watching the singer's every move.
Garry Kief and Barry Manilow attend the 2016 Pre-GRAMMY Gala on February 15, 2016. | Source: Getty Images
Aside from music, Manilow's first love was Deixler. She was the "prettiest girl in the class." He once described her lovingly, saying: "she was adorable, small with great legs and a voluptuous figure. Jet-black hair, dark brown eyes, and a smile that lit up the room."
Deixler ended up liking Manilow back, and when he was 21 and she was 19, they exchanged vows before a judge in 1964 before repeating the ceremony with a rabbi after her family insisted.
Unfortunately, their union didn't last long, and the pair separated two years later. Manilow admitted that the wedding was rushed, and while he was in love with Deixler, he was simply not ready for a life-long commitment like marriage.
According to the pop-rock superstar, he was preoccupied with making music that it didn't take long for his relationship with Deixler to deteriorate. He said:
“I was out making music every night, sowing my wild oats — I was too young. I wasn’t ready to settle down.”
Although it came at the expense of his marriage falling apart, Manilow pouring his heart and soul into music eventually started to pay off. He skyrocketed to fame, beginning with the hit ballad "Mandy" before releasing classic hits like "Copacabana (At the Copa)," "Can't Smile Without You," and "Looks Like We Made It."
Only four years after "Mandy" hit the charts, his fame allowed him to meet Garry Kief, a TV executive that would end up being the love of his life. While Manilow maintains he was not struggling with his sexuality when he separated from Deixler, he would come to terms with the fact that the person he was in love with was a man.
While Manilow found "the one," he had to keep his sexuality and same-sex relationship private at the time to stay away from controversies and tabloid headlines. He didn't open up, saying “it was very difficult to do that [back then], to have a conversation like we’re having, because it would have [resulted in] a very negative article.”
THE MAN WHO CHANGED HIS LIFE
Soon after meeting Kief, the TV executive became Manilow's manager, which is a role he has until today. He is also the president of Barry Manilow Productions, and for a good reason. According to Manilow, "[Kief is] the smartest person I've ever met in my life – and a great guy, too."
Some might think Kief hit it big when he met Manilow in 1978, but the singer insists it's actually him who hit the jackpot. He knew he finally met "the one," which holds true until today. "I knew that this was it. I was one of the lucky ones. I was pretty lonely before that," he gushed.
Garry Kief and Barry Manilow at the 2016 Pre-GRAMMY Gala on February 15, 2016. | Source: Getty Images
ON KEEPING THEIR RELATIONSHIP A SECRET
Manilow and Kief have been happy to be by each other's side for more than four decades now, but it wasn't always easy for the couple. They had to keep their relationship and Manilow's sexuality a secret because fans were becoming aggressive and would show their displeasure.
Early in their relationship, Kief attended one of Manilow's concerts and got into the car with him. Fans ended up rocking the vehicle, and Kief admitted then and there that he couldn't handle it. In the end, Manilow was glad he stayed.
Since the harrowing situation, Manilow ultimately decided to stay mum about his sexuality in fear of disappointing his fans. Manilow's goal had always been to give them work that they could be proud of and be proud of him as a human being.
Although most of the time, no one would point out that Kief and Manilow would eat dinner in public together, there was once one interviewer who asked about his sexuality. He lied simply because he had to. However, the singer admitted that he would have proudly answered honestly if someone were to ask him again.
GETTING MARRIED AT 71 YEARS OLD
There's no need for Manilow and Kief to hide any longer, as they've been happily married since 2014. However, the singer admitted at the time that he was still hesitant to discuss their relationship with the press and to come out publicly, even after their wedding.
Manilow and Kief wed in a secret ceremony at their Palm Springs estate in April 2014, surrounded by their closest family and friends. A year after, news finally broke out about their wedding and Manilow's sexuality.
Admittedly, the superstar calls it "a blessing and a curse." He had always been considerate of his fans, thinking he would be disappointing them if they knew the truth about his sexuality.
In the end, he was relieved that fans were happy to find out about him and Kief, and he was touched to read all their kind comments about their union. Until today, their union remains rock-solid, and they share a child, Kief's biological daughter Kirsten, whom they raised together.
When Kief and Manilow met, the TV executive was married with a one-year-old daughter. Manilow is a proud stepdad, and has nothing but nice words to say about his husband, once saying:
“That’s the miracle of this relationship. It’s a relationship built on respect, and we’ve never bumped heads about anything.”
Manilow's ex-wife, Deixler, heard about the wedding at one point and expressed her happiness for him. She called their previous marriage "ancient history" and wished Manilow and Kief well.
Now that the world knows of his sexuality, Manilow admits nothing has changed given his family and friends always knew. However, the stark difference is that he is able to speak up about his sexuality freely to the rest of the world. He shared:
“For me, there’s never been anything wrong with it. I could not be prouder of being a gay man and having a beautiful life and a great partner for 40 years.”
With sexuality no longer a taboo topic, singers like Harry Styles have followed suit and have openly spoken about sexuality. With nothing to hide, the likes of Manilow and Styles are able to give the world the best of themselves, whether it be as a performer or public figure.