All those celebrity gossip sites had heard rumors of a secret wedding, but Suzanne Sommers confirmed it: yes, the soft rock icon of the 1970s had married his longtime manager, Garry Kief.
Now, Manilow had never come out as gay, and the ceremony took place last year, privately, at Manilow's Palm Springs home.
Why do I find this fact interesting?
I grew up with Barry Manilow (not literally). My mother was a Manilow fanatic. I remember hearing those songs “Mandy,” “I Write the Songs,” and “Can't Smile Without You” innumerable times during my adolescence. Not just playing on the record player, but on the car radio. And also in even soupier versions in stores and on elevators.
If you want to torture me, play these songs. I will confess to anything.
When ABC premiered his first prime time special, “The Barry Manilow Special” in 1977, one would have thought the second coming of Christ had occurred in our house.
(By the way, Barry is Jewish. I found out his name was originally Barry Alan, the son of Edna and Harold Pincus. Harold deserted the family when Barry was two. Manilow was his mother's maiden name, which he adopted at his bar mitzvah. )
My poor mother. She didn't now that so many of her favorite artists were/are gay. As I said above, Barry never came out as gay, but she was quite enamored of the openly gay Village People. (If youtube had existed at that time, I am certain her YMCA dance might have gone viral.) She also liked Saturday Night Fever. Yes, John Travolta … still in the closet.
Now, I am not trying to denigrate the very talented Manilow (I just don't get his music), but what I find fascinating is the attraction Manilow holds for women of a certain age. I don't know of any girl going to high school at that time who liked him (or admitted to liking him). It was always someone's MOTHER who loved him.
I remember reading somewhere that Barry's most fanatic “fanilows” or “Maniloonies” are British homemaker types. Manilow himself proclaimed his “love affair” with the United Kingdom fans, lauding them for their loyalty.