Legendary crooner Barry Manilow is admitting he stayed in the closet for 40 years because coming out in the 1970s would have meant the end of his career.
Manilow, now 80, was once married to a woman, Susan Diexler, from 1964 to 1966, at which time the couple annulled their union. And during the November 10 interview on CNN, Manilow said that in a way he really did love Diexler, who was his childhood sweetheart. He just could not deny his true sexuality and their coupling failed.
But even after that, Manilow said he simply did not want to discuss his private life back in those days, the BBC noted.
“Frankly, it was just too personal. I just didn’t want to talk about my personal life anyway… I was happy talking about music. But talking about my personal life was just kind of creepy to me. So I never did,” he told host Chris Wallace.
But times have changed, he added.
“Now being gay is no big deal,” Manilow said. “Back in the ‘70s it would have killed a career.”
He credited his husband, Garry Kief with whom he tied the knot in 2015, with saving his life as his career was exploding with hits including “Copacabana,” “Mandy,” and “Looks Like We Made It.”
“Garry actually kind of saved my life because as my career exploded, it was crazy. Going back to an empty hotel room you can get into a lot of trouble if you are all alone night after night,” Manilow explained.
“I met Garry right around when it was exploding and I didn’t have to go back to those empty hotel rooms and I had someone to cry with and celebrate with,” he said.
Manilow did not officially come out to the world as a gay man until 2017 when he favored People magazine for the announcement.
But Manilow, born Barry Alan Pincus, told Wallace that he felt coming out in his 70s was a “non-event.”
“I think everybody knew that Garry and I were a couple all those years,” he insisted.
Still, he did note that the outpouring of support from his fans was heartwarming.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he told Reuters at the time, “but I should have known better because my fans, and frankly the public, they care about my happiness and I have always known that.”
He did not fully blame being gay for the end of his marriage to Diexler, even though “the gay thing was pretty, pretty strong.” He said he was just too committed to his budding music career to be a proper husband who was around for his wife.
“We had a very nice marriage, it was great, but I was away every night making music, as a young musician would be… and it wasn’t good for me and it wasn’t good for her,” he insisted.
“I couldn’t be the proper husband. I was just away making music with a band. I wrote an off-Broadway musical called the Drunkard. And I was having a ball. I just couldn’t be a husband.”
He also admitted that he was not exactly prepared for fame. After “Mandy” came out he was no long just a musician doing his thing, but a star in the spotlight. And the notice was a bit unnerving.
“I was having a great time until I had to get up there and perform. I wouldn’t say nervous breakdown, but it was definitely a problem for me,” he said.