Barry Manilow finally spoke about his 39-year romance with husband Garry C. Kief, who is also his manager. The two married in April 2014 and celebrated their three-year wedding anniversary by finally talking about it publicly. Manilow also spoke about why he held off on coming out publicly and his brief marriage to Susan Deixler. Like Manilow, Kief was also married to a woman. He also has a daughter, who has Manilow as a godfather.
“He’s the smartest person I’ve ever met in my life — and a great guy, too,” Manilow told People Magazine in an interview published on April 5.
The 73-year-old Manilow also has a new album coming out on April 21, called This Is My Town: Songs of New York.
Here’s what you need to know about the 68-year-old Kief and his relationship with Manilow.
1. Manilow & Kief Have Been Together for 39 Years & Married in April 2014
Manilow and Kief have been in a relationship for 39 years. They got married at their 53-acre Palm Springs estate in April 2014. However, it wasn’t until a year later that Manilow finally revealed that he tied the knot.
In April 2015, Us Weekly confirmed the marriage. The magazine reported that even their guests didn’t know they were invited to a wedding when they arrived at the estate.
The privacy that surrounds Manilow’s private life isn’t surprising. In a 2012 Telegraph interview, he said that the only people who know about his private life are those he invites in.
“I am a private guy. You can only come into my world if I invite you in. From the very beginning that was the rule. I learnt how to deal with the publicity/press thing. You just say, ‘I’m not interested in talking about [that].’ Even the names of my dogs! They are my kids, my friends are my friends and my family, they are mine. That’s the only way I can survive. I have to keep that to me. I don’t want strangers knowing everything. If that happened, that would drive me crazy.”
In a new interview with Entertainment Tonight, Manilow said that he didn’t even want his marriage to Kief to go public. His fans only learned about it when his friend, Suzanne Somers, spilled the beans during an episode of Watch What Happens Live.
“I don’t even like people knowing the names of my dogs, so for the public to get that close was really very… it was strange that we were even talking about it,” he told ET. “But I don’t mind at all. I’m proud of it, I am. I’m proud of it.”
“There’s Barry Manilow the performer, and then there’s the Barry ‘machine.’ It takes enormous savvy and know-how to book and market complicated arena tours, choreograph promotion, direct the entire team and make it look effortless, and that part is Garry’s domain. A major career takes two. Between them, there is enormous comfort and trust,” Somers told People Magazine.
2. Kief Is the President of Barry Manilow Productions & Stiletto Entertainment Group
Manilow told People that the couple first met in 1978. “I knew that was it. I was one of the lucky ones,” Manilow told the magazine. “I was pretty lonely before that.”
A short time after they met, Kief, who is from Houston, went to one of the “Mandy” singer’s concerts. “I got into the car with him, and [the fans] were rocking the car,” Manilow told People. “He was like, ‘I can’t handle this. It’s not for me.’ I’m glad he stayed.”
Kief also quickly became Manilow’s manager, a role he still plays today. He is currently the president of Barry Manilow Productions.
The company has produced concerts, theatrical productions and TV shows around the world. Stiletto also coordinates advertising, contracts, schedules and casting. In addition to Manilow, the company has also represents Brian Culbertson, Straight No Chaser and Lorna Luft. It also ran a cruise ship production called Barry Manilow’s Copacabana, which was the first original book to be performed on a cruise ship.
“It seems like yesterday that I was taking our first cast to the ship that would be their home for the next six months. Some of those wonderful kids have stayed in touch with us ever since,” Kief told Vegas Report News Wire in 2015.
Kief is also on the board of directors for the McCallum Theatre, Sigma Phi Epsilon and the Palm Springs International Festival.
In 1970, he graduated from the University of Southern California, where he studied journalism, public relations, marketing and broadcast journalism.
Kief also has a private Twitter account.
3. Kief Has a Daughter Named Kristen Who is Manilow’s Goddaughter
Kief does have a daughter from his marriage before he met Manilow. The Daily Mail notes that he was previously married to a woman. Radar Online claims that Kief’s wife was Jane and they married in 1971, when Kief was 22 and Jane was 21. Jane died in 2005 and her obituary referred to her as “Jane Kief,” a “cherished” wife. They never legally divorced.
Jane Kief’s obituary notes that she “died peacefully” at 55 years old. It does not list the names of her husband or daughter.
Kirsten Kief is the director of Business Services at Stiletto, according to her LinkedIn page. She graduated from Whittier College in 2001 with a B.A. in Sociology. The 40-year-old Kirsten also works at Bluebell Events, a wedding planning firm, as an assistant.
Kirsten is Manilow’s goddaughter and attended the 2006 Emmys with him.
Manilow himself never had children, but he told the Telegraph in 2012 that he never regretted that.
“It was impossible,” Manilow said in 2012. “This insane world that I have and trying to be a father – I think I would have had to choose one or the other. But, ah, the choice never really happened anyway. Hey, look, the closest I get is raising dogs. Whenever I get one of those little puppies, I stop everything. I do. And I give them a good eight or nine weeks just with me. I train them. My belief is that you do that and you get a great eight or nine years with a great dog.”
In a interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Manilow said that he and Kief raised Kirsten together. “Kirsten’s turned out to be one of the most beautiful and smartest women you’ll ever meet,” Manilow said.
4. Manilow Says He Hasn’t Received 1 Negative Response From Fans After Marrying Kief
In another new interview with Entertainment Tonight, Manilow said that his fans have been happy about his marriage.
“I have not read one negative response,” Manilow told ET. “These strangers out there, and I’ve always known it, they care about me.”
“It was just an amazing, beautiful, beautiful thing,” Manilow added.
In his People interview, Manilow said he thought he would disappoint fans by telling them he was gay.
“I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything,” Manilow told the magazine. “When they found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy. The reaction was so beautiful — strangers commenting, ‘Great for you!’ I’m just so grateful for it.”
Manilow also said that he doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon. “I’ll be making music until I croak,” he jokingly told ET.
5. Manilow Was Previously Married to a Woman, Susan Deixler, Who he ‘Loved’
Manilow was previously married to his high school sweetheart, Susan Deixler. They were married for two years before getting an annulment in 1966, Us Weekly notes.
“I was in love with Susan. I just was not ready for marriage,” Manilow told People Magazine. “I was out making music every night, sowing my wild oats — I was too young. I wasn’t ready to settle down.”
“I wish him well. I’m happy for him. I’m glad that he’s found love and happiness,” Diexler, who was 19 when she married Manilow, told the Daily Mail after she found out about Manilow’s marriage. “What happened between us, our relationship, is ancient history and I don’t want to dig back into ancient history. It’s 50 years ago.”
Manilow was linked to several women over the decades, even while he was privately in a relationship with Kief. He tried to keep his relationship with Kief such a secret that he told the Telegraph in 2012 that he was “happily single.”
Manilow was so guarded about his sexuality before speaking out about it that publisher Chris Charlesworth told the Daily Mail in 2015 that lawyers told him to take out references to Manilow being gay in a 2002 biography by Patricia Butler.
“I protested. Not only was it fairly well known within the music industry that Manilow was gay but my author had done her research well and come up with quotes from friends and professional colleagues that confirmed Manilow was a gay man,” Charlesworth told the Daily Mail. He decided to publish the book and Manilow never sued. However, Manilow still never publicly acknowledged his sexuality until now.