On April 5, singer Barry Manilow officially came out of the closet by confirming in People magazine that he has been in a relationship with his manager, Garry Kief, since 1978. The couple tied the knot in 2014.
In the 70s and 80s, Manilow rocketed to the top of the charts with such hits as “Mandy” and “Copacabana (At the Copa).” A deeply private person, the star claims he did not openly talk about his sexuality because he was afraid his fans would be disappointed if they knew he was gay. However, the response from fans has been overwhelmingly positive.
In People, Barry Manilow talked about how people reacted when they found out Barry and Garry Kief were a couple.
“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.”
At 73, Manilow is by no means the first celebrity to have an official coming out later in life. Here are three more famous gay celebrities who revealed their sexual orientation to the public at age 60 and above.
George Takei, the Japanese American actor of Star Trek fame, had his official coming out in 2005. In this year, Takei announced in Frontiers, an LBGTQ magazine from Los Angeles, that he was gay and had been in a committed relationship with Brad Altman for 18 years. Sixty-eight-years-old at the time, Takei’s public coming out was in response to the veto of same-sex marriage legislation in California, carried out by then-governor Arnold Schwarznegger. Unlike Barry Manilow, George Takei’s coming out was not welcomed by all; at least not by former Star Trek star, William Shatner. When Takei, who played the role of Mr. Sulu on the popular 1960s sci-fi series, came out in 2005, Shatner launched an attack, calling him “sick” and “psychotic.” However, Shatner may have been lashing out to statements made by Takei, in which the actor admitted he still held a grudge against the star. Takei claimed Shatner had a gigantic ego and was always stealing the limelight on the show and in Star Trek movies. Takei and Altman got married on September 14, 2008, and Captain Kirk was not invited to the wedding.
On the Netflix series, Grace and Frankie, Lily Tomlin plays Frankie, a woman in her seventies whose husband Saul leaves her to marry his longtime male lover. Like Saul, Lily Tomlin married her longtime partner, Jane Wagner, in 2013, when she was 74. However, unlike Saul, her relationship with Wagner has never exactly been a secret. Tomlin and Wagner, who is a writer, met and fell in love in 1971. They never denied their relationship over the years, which, like Manilow and Kief’s, was always an open secret not many people talked about. In 2008, Tomlin said everyone in the industry was definitely aware she was a lesbian and that she had talked freely about Jane in interviews. However, she did admit last December that she was reluctant to come out to her mother because it would have killed her.
About her mother, Tomlin said, “…she was Southern, basically fundamentalist, but she was very witty and sweet and kind and she adored Jane. She died 10 years ago. She was 91. So that was always kind of a dilemma for me.”
Actress Holland Taylor is perhaps best known for her role as the formidable and frightening Evelyn Harper on the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men. In 2015, Taylor came out in a radio interview, admitting most of her relationships had been with women and that she was currently involved with a younger woman. Her girlfriend was later revealed to be actress Sarah Paulson, born in 1974. Taylor’s official coming out happened when she was 72 years old, one year younger than Barry Manilow.
[Featured Image by Joe Cavaretta/AP Images]