Barry Manilow has proven an infectious and loveable singer over the course of his career, one capable of creating songs virtually the whole world can’t help but sing.
Thanks to The Mandy and Copacabana (At the Copa), he reached worldwide fame in the 1970s, even if critics didn’t think he was actually that good in the beginning.
It turned out Manilow carried a huge secret for a large chunk of his life – he came out as gay at 73. As of today, though, he is happier than ever, and lives his best life alongside his husband, Garry, and his daughter.
Now, though Manilow has been a heartthrob for many people worldwide, there are those who have also speculated whether or not he’s undergone plastic surgery. Well, the 78-year-old Brooklyn native isn’t afraid to telling the truth.
Here’s all you need to know about Barry Manilow – and how he looks today.
Barry Manilow was born in on June 17, 1943 in Brooklyn, New York. His grandparents were Russian immigrants – Barry is, in fact, also half-Irish as his father, Harold comes from Ireland.
That, however, was something he was taught not to talk about at a young age.
“The fact that Harold was an Irish truck driver was hidden from the family,” Barry told the Irish Independent.
“It was considered a terrible thing for my mother to have done. They wouldn’t even allow my name to be Kelliher. They changed it immediately.”
Barry Manilow – early life
He added: “When I was born, I was called Barry Pincus. They had to dig deep into my father’s family to find one Jewish relative. They went back to the 1800s and they found one uncle, a Jewish guy called Pincus. My mother made my father change his name to Pincus.”
Manilow was raised by his mother, Edna, and his grandparents – his parents divorced when he was just a baby. Just weeks before his Bar Mitzvah, he legally got the Manilow family name.
Barry Manilow’s father was dubbed a “monster” by his grandparents, but they rather liked his mother’s next love, who turned out to be Barry’s inspiration as it pertained to music. Irish truck driver Willie Murphy reportedly had an extensive record collection, and allowed Barry to listen to it all the time.
Moreover, his mother and stepfather eventually decided to club their money together to buy Manilow a piano for $800 – that alone took them five years to pay off. It showed how loved he was by his mother and stepfather – fortunately, we know now that he was able to pay it all back.
Before entering the New York College of Music, Barry enrolled at the City College of New York. He then attended the Juilliard School, studying musical theater, and moved on to work as a log clerk at CBS.
It was around this time that Manilow also found his first love. In 1964, at the age of 21, he married his high school sweetheart, Susan Deixler. It was just after their graduation – according to Barry, it was way too early to settle down.
Commercial work with McDonald’s & Dr. Pepper
“I was in love with Susan,” he said, describing her as adorable, small with “great legs and a voluptuous figure.”
Manilow added: “I just was not ready for marriage, I was out making music every night, sowing my wild oats. I was too young, I wasn’t ready to settle down.”
Barry, it seemed, had an entirely different dream. He wanted to work in the entertainment business badly, and resolved to do anything to reach his goal.
It probably sounded crazy at the time, but Manilow was ready to put it all on the line for a shot at breaking into the entertainment industry. For years, he wrote songs and landed gigs as a writer for commercials. He was lucky enough to feature in a Dr. Pepper commercial which, according to the man himself, “paid the rent for years.”
His big breakthrough, though, became the dramatic showstopper You Deserve a Break Today, which Manilow sang for a McDonald’s commercial. Looking back, going into the business of writing commercials was the best decision he ever took.
“When I lucked into writing commercials, the only way you can go up against other songwriters when you’re going for a commercial is to write the catchiest melody you can write in fifteen seconds, and if you don’t write the best one, then another songwriter will get the commercial,” Barry explained.
“And my instinct is always to write catchy melodies. I just like doing it. And so when I started to do jingles, I won a lot of them because my melodies were catchier than the other guys’ melodies.”
Barry Manilow – breakthrough with ‘Mandy’
Hee added: “But it was very helpful because when I found myself in the pop music world writing pop songs, which like I say I never really thought about doing, pop music is all about catchy melodies and hooks and choruses…Well, learning how to do that while I was writing commercials was very helpful when i wound up writing pop songs.”
“What I learned most of all in my jingle days was how to write a catchy melody,” Manilow said.
Barry would finally get to release his first album in 1973. He had sent songs to artists, but nobody wanted them, and so he released them himself. The self-titled debut album Barry Manilow wasn’t an instant hit — but just a year later, the singer would become a massive star.
“I would send my songs out but nobody wanted them because they wanted to do their own songs,” he told the Independent.
“I made my first album and it was good but I thought that was the end of that, but then Clive Davis [producer] came in and he found Mandy for me.”
Clive Davis was the president of Arista Records and claimed to have found a song that had potential for Barry, Brandy. Initially, it was a rock ‘n’ roll song, and so Manilow, young at the time, didn’t quite know what to do with it.
“In order to learn Brandy, I had slowed it down and — just because I wanted to — I’d changed the chords around and put in a key change,” Barry said in his Emmy Interview.
“But then I forgot about it and played Clive the rock-and-roll song. But now, I went to the piano and played him the ballad version of Brandy with my key and chord changes.
Five albums on the best-selling charts
He said, ‘Do that. And we can’t use Brandy. Sing Mandy.’ There had been a hit record called Brandy out two years earlier: “Brandy, you’re a fine girl….” So we changed the name. I played the slow version, we put a small band behind it and added Mandy to that second album. And my life changed.”
Just as Barry said, Mandy changed his life forever. It went straight to No.1 on the charts, and Manilow followed it up with songs such as I Write the Songs, Could It Be Magic, and the legendary Copacabana (At the Copa).
In 1978, only five years after releasing his first album, Barry had five albums on the best-selling charts simultaneously, as well as ten No. 1 singles. He’d also won several awards, including Grammy and Tony Awards and become the heartthrob of an entire generation along the way. His fans were termed “Fanilows.”
It should go without saying that we’ve seen many examples of sudden fame turning toxic throughout history. In Barry’s case, though, it was important for him to embrace fame in a way that he never let it go out of control. That meant looking beyond himself.
“I’ve learned over the years that at the beginning of your life it’s all about me, me, me. ‘Look at me, look what I can do, look how great I am’,” he says. “Then somewhere in the middle, mid-30s or maybe later for me, you realise that now it’s gotta go the other way,” he explained.
“The arrows have to stop pointing towards yourself. They have to flip around and point out — and that’s not just for a performer, that’s for everybody. If you wind up being 40 years of age still showing everybody how great you are, it’s very unbecoming.”
Barry Manilow – net worth, husband, children
Years before Barry’s big break, he and his wife Susan Diexen divorced. They were married only two years before he walked out on what he said was “the perfect wife” to pursue “this wondrous musical adventure.”
Manilow’s career spans decades – the longtime artist still performs today. He is said to have a net worth of around $100 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
However, he did not walk unburdened. It turned out, Barry kept a big secret for large parts of his adult life. Finally, in 2017 – at 73 years of age – Manilow came out as gay. This was undoubtedly a courageous decision, especially given his age. At the time, he already had a partner in Garry Kief.
In 2014, the two married at their Palm Springs estate. According to The Sun, it was such a big secret that even the guests didn’t know they were to attend their wedding.
According to reports, Barry and Garry met for the first time back in 1978. Today, he is the president of Barry Manilow Productions, and also functions as Barry’s manager.
“I knew that this was it,” Barry recalled of meeting Garry for the first time. “I was one of the lucky ones, I was pretty lonely before that.”
Coming out as gay wasn’t an easy decision Barry. He feared that it would’ve harmed his career if he’d come out earlier, and that it would “disappoint” his fans, especially the female ones.
“People just wanted me to be happy”
However, it turned out to be the complete opposite.
“Well if I had done it much earlier, I think it would have affected my career a lot. But by the time Garry and I decided to do it, being gay and being alive was accepted, so nothing changed,” Barry explained.
“Nothing’s changed. The only thing that is different is people are very happy for me,” he added.
“People just wanted me to be happy and when I said I had someone in my life, they were happy for me and there was no negativity and all. I kind of expected that and these people are great, it’s great.”
Besides sharing his life with his beloved Garry, Manilow also got the pleasure of helping raise his husband’s biological daughter, Kristen.
As for their private life, some might argue that having your partner as a manager might be risky for a relationship. Barry and Garry, though, make it work.
“That’s the miracle of this relationship. It’s a relationship built on respect, and we’ve never bumped heads about anything,” Manilow said.
“Garry’s the smartest guy I’ve ever met. He’s a great manager. He takes care of my career on the business level, and I take care of the music, and we plan out what we want to do together. It’s about two guys who made it through 40 years.
“Maybe [coming out] will make people feel good. Maybe it will inspire some young people that they can do it, too. [Ours] has been a very positive love story. We’re still talking to each other!”
Over the years, Barry has also drawn attention due to a matter entirely separate to his music or private life.
Barry Manilow – plastic surgery & botox
It’s been reported and speculated numerous times that Manilow has had facelifts and eye surgery, as well as Botox injections to firm up his face. In an interview with the Irish Independent, he confirmed that was indeed the case.
Barry said that he had undergone a procedure to get rid of his jowls, “But they came right back. That kind of stuff doesn’t last. Then many years ago, all of LA was running for Botox, and I did too. I gave it a try, but I just didn’t like it. It didn’t look right for me.”
In 2011, plastic surgeon Said Youn said that he thought Manilow had had “too much work” on his face. On the other hand, Barry says it’s “ridiculous” to think he’s the “Joan Rivers of the guys.” One explanation, he says, is that he has undergone several surgeries, which has affected his face.
“I’ve had this nasty hip problem for the last ten years,” he said. “I’ve had three surgeries, the last one four months ago. I didn’t want to limp out on stage at the Grammys, and the only way I got any relief was by steroid shots right into my hips. But then your face blows up and looks odd.”
Barry appeared on the British morning show This Morning just days ago and he was almost unrecognizable. But how can he look so youthful?
“It’s luck, it’s just blind luck,” Barry said, laughing.
“I’m really very old, please let’s not talk about it. It’s really depressing.”
Barry Manilow is a true legend – and he should be praised for his courage in coming out as gay so late in his life.
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