Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow Headshot

Singer • Musician • Actor

Birth Date: June 17, 1943

Age: 80 years old

Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York

An immensely talented singer-musician, Barry Manilow trained at Juilliard before creating several endlessly lucrative jingles for such companies as State Farm and Band-Aid. After accompanying Bette Midler during her famous bathhouse sets, he produced her first two albums, and also began longtime professional friendships with Clive Davis and Dick Clark, gifting the latter with "It's Just another New Year's Eve" and a new version of "Bandstand Boogie." Manilow embarked on his own successful solo career with his 1973 debut album, which included the future Donna Summer single "Could it Be Magic," and he would go on to notch the hit ballads "Mandy," "Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again," "Weekend in New England," "Looks Like We Made It," "Can't Smile Without You," "Ready To Take a Chance Again" and his most iconic smash, the upbeat, infectious "Copacabana." Frequently mocked for his middle-of-the-road persona and soft-focus music as well as his ambiguous sexuality, Manilow displayed a refreshing, self-deprecating sense of humor, and embarked on multiple successful international tours. He contributed a song to "Oliver & Company" (1988), co-wrote the scores for the animated films "Thumbelina" (1994) and "The Pebble and the Penguin" (1995), and co-wrote several live-action musicals. An Emmy winner, Manilow topped the Billboard album charts for the first time with 2006's The Greatest Songs of the Fifties and booked long-running stints in Las Vegas and on "American Idol" (Fox, 2002-16). Self-aware of his campy but inescapable appeal, Barry Manilow achieved international fame as a much-loved superstar.

Born June 17, 1943 in Brooklyn, NY, Barry Alan Pincus was born into a Jewish family, and took his mother's maiden name, Manilow, at the time of his bar mitzvah. Gifted with an innate, prodigious musical talent, Manilow enrolled in Juilliard in 1961, while working at CBS. There, he met a director who asked him to arrange some songs for a musical, "The Drunkard," but Manilow surprised him by writing the entire score, which then earned an eight-year run off-Broadway. Supporting himself as a pianist, arranger and producer, Manilow then embarked on the most lucrative of all his ventures: working as a commercial jingle writer. Enjoying unparalleled success, he wrote, composed and sang such immensely memorable and profitable jingles for companies such as State Farm, Band-Aid and McDonald's. Ed Sullivan's production company hired him as an arranger, and he began performing with Jeanne Lucas as a musical duo at New York's Upstairs at the Downstairs club.

In 1970, Manilow began accompanying Bette Midler for her famous sets in New York's Continental Baths, and their musical collaborations proved so inspiring to her that she retained him to assist with the production of her first two albums, 1972's The Divine Miss M and 1973's Bette Midler, as well as serving as the musical director for her "The Divine Miss M" tour. His debut album, 1973's Barry Manilow, included the song "Could It Be Magic," which would later become one of Donna Summer's biggest hits. The singer-songwriter's talents caught the eye of a young Clive Davis, who saw enormous potential in him, and he took a special interest in guiding and shaping his career at Arista Records. The second album, Barry Manilow II, (1974) cemented Manilow's stardom as a viable performer, spinning off the smash No. 1 hit, the timeless ballad "Mandy." So popular was the second album that it caused the label to remix and reissue his first album, retitled Barry Manilow I.

Manilow's 1975 appearance on "American Bandstand" (WFIL-TV, 1952-57; ABC, 1957-1987, syndicated, 1987-88, USA Network, 1989) led to a fruitful, longtime collaboration with Dick Clark, with Manilow composing and performing "It's Just another New Year's Eve" for Clark's annual specials and providing an updated rendition of "Bandstand Boogie," the series' theme song. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Manilow began a run of chart dominance with such lush, soft-focus smashes as "Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again," "Weekend in New England," "Looks Like We Made It" and "Can't Smile Without You." Capitalizing on his success, ABC tapped him to appear in four variety specials, which received huge ratings, multiple Emmy nominations and several wins. His smash "Ready to Take a Chance Again," which appeared on the soundtrack to the Goldie Hawn/Chevy Chase romantic comedy smash "Foul Play" (1978) earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.

But his most iconic song was perhaps the campy sing-a-long "Copacabana," which told the story of the passionate showgirl Lola and her ill-fated romance with bartender Tony. So catchy was the ditty that it took on a life of its own, later inspiring multiple projects by Manilow, including several musicals, including "Copacabana" (CBS, 1985), which starred Manilow as Tony and Annette O'Toole as Lola. In 1979, Manilow produced Dionne Warwick's platinum-selling Dionne and earned another Top Ten hit, "Ships." Throughout the 1980s, Manilow continued to enjoy musical success, but on the adult contemporary rather than mainstream pop charts, notching the hits "The Old Songs," "Somewhere Down the Road," "Read 'Em and Weep" and "I Don't Want to Walk Without You." Though his popularity had peaked in the 1970s, he continued to book multi-million dollar sold-out performances around the world, including a record-setting 10-night set at Radio City Music Hall in 1984.

Despite, or perhaps because of, Manilow's amazing success, he was frequently the target of jokes and parody, most often in terms of rumors regarding his ambiguous sexuality and his perceived "middle of the road," un-cool persona, which he bore through the years with self-deprecating humor. Artistically, he began incorporating more world music into his compositions, and to generously support music departments at multiple colleges and universities. His autobiography, Sweet Life: Adventures on the Way to Paradise, was published in 1987 and he wrote a song, "Perfect Isn't Easy" for Bette Midler's character to sing in the animated Disney film "Oliver & Company" (1988). Starting in the late 1980s and into the 1990s, Manilow began focusing on recording other artists' music, releasing albums of holiday, Broadway, Big Band and tribute covers. He co-wrote the musical scores for the Don Bluth animated films "Thumbelina" (1994) and "The Pebble and the Penguin" (1995) and co-wrote a live-action musical, "Harmony," which was eventually canceled due to financial issues.

His 2002 greatest hits CD, Ultimate Manilow, was a hit, and he once again collaborated with Midler on two successful projects: 2003's Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook and 2005's Bette Midler Sings the Peggy Lee Songbook. Like many crowd-pleasing artists of his ilk, he began a long-running gig in Las Vegas as well as a string of appearances on "American Idol" (Fox, 2002-16) as a mentor and guest judge. Far from winding down, his career continued unabated; he earned his first No. 1 album with 2006's The Greatest Songs of the Fifties, which went platinum; won an Emmy for his performance in "Barry Manilow: Music and Passion" (PBS, 2006); and notched a No. 2 album with 2006's The Greatest Songs of the Sixties. In 2010, Manilow performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert. In April 2015, it was revealed that Manilow had married his longtime manager, Garry C. Kief, in a small private ceremony in 2014.

By Jonathan Riggs

Credits

Barry Manilow's A Very Barry Christmas

Executive Producer
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2023

Barry Manilow's A Very Barry Christmas

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2023

Christmas in Rockefeller Center

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2023

Who's Talking to Chris Wallace?Stream

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2022

Barry Manilow: Live On Broadway

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2022

Being...Barry Manilow

Self
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2022

Being...

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2021

The Drew Barrymore ShowStream

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2020

The Kelly Clarkson ShowStream

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2019

Today With Hoda & Jenna

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2019

Strahan & Sara

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2019

Backstage With Brauch: Barry Manilow

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2018

Today 3rd Hour

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2018

Barry Manilow: They Write the Songs

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2018

Celebrity PageStream

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2016

A Capitol Fourth

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2015

The Late Late Show With James CordenStream

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2015

Good Morning Britain

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2014

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy FallonStream

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2014

Barbra Streisand & Barry Manilow: I Won't Be the One to Let Go

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2014

A Capitol Fourth

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2013

Katie

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2012

Barry Manilow at the BBC

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2012

Dr. Steve

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2011

Piers Morgan Tonight

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2011

The Gayle King Show

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2011

The Talk

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2010

The Talk

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2010

Access Hollywood Live

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2010

Christmas in Rockefeller Center

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2009

Lopez Tonight

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2009

The Joy Behar Show

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2009

The Jay Leno Show

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2009

A Capitol Fourth

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2009

The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien

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2009

Tonight's the Night

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2009

The Doctors

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2008

The Wendy Williams Show

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2008

My Generation

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2008

Barry Manilow: Never Gonna Give You Up

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2008

Today With Kathie Lee & Hoda

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2007

The Graham Norton ShowStream

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2007

The Graham Norton ShowStream

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2007

Rachael Ray ShowStream

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2006

Rachael Ray ShowStream

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2006

Barry Manilow: Music and Passion

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2006

Barry Manilow: Can't Take My Eyes Off of You

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2006

Barry Manilow: Unchained Melody (Live)

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2006

All I Have to do is Dream: Barry Manilow (Karaoke Version)

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2006

The Colbert Report

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2005

Dancing With the StarsStream

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2005

The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson

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2005

Barry Manilow: Unchained Melody

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2005

One Night With Barry Manilow

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2004

The Insider

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2004

The Insider

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2004

Tavis Smiley

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2004

Barry Manilow: I Can't Get Started

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2004

Barry Manilow: Let's Hang On

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2004

Barry Manilow: Read 'Em and Weep

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2004

The Ellen DeGeneres Show

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2003

Jimmy Kimmel Live!Stream

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2003

Jimmy Kimmel Live!Stream

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2003

Ultimate Manilow!

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2002

Unconditional Love

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2002

The Early Show

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1999

Family Guy

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1999

Family GuyStream

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1999

The Daily Show With Jon StewartStream

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1999

Will & GraceStream

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1998

Ally McBeal

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1997
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The View

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1997

The View

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1997

Access Hollywood

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1996

Hubi, der Pinguin

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1995

The Pebble and the Penguin

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1995

Christmas at Home With the Stars

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1994

The Tonight Show With Jay Leno

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1992

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1992

This Morning

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1988

Copacabana

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Tony Starr
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1985

Entertainment Tonight

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1981

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1981

CBS News Sunday Morning

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1979

Good Morning America

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The Merv Griffin Show

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The Tonight Show Starring Johnny CarsonStream

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Today

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Today

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