Barry Manilow, born Barry Alan Pincus, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.
Manilow's father was an Irishman, likely raised Irish Catholic (others speculate that this was the case as well ) and his mother was Jewish. But Manilow's father left the family early in Barry's life and he was raised Jewish, Bar Mitzvah and all. He describes his childhood:
We were very poor, but I never knew it. I was given a secure upbringing and I always felt loved and wanted. Grandma and Grandpa taught me Jewish traditions and raised me to be polite, caring and sensitive, a gentleman.
But based on the rare quote in which Manilow discusses his spirituality, it would seem to me that he isn't all that religious–spiritual perhaps, but not the kind of mensch that goes to Synagogue on a regular basis. He did seven songs for a Broadway played called "Harmony," which is about a group of performers in pre-WWII Germany, three of which were Jewish and had to face anti-Semitism and the Holocaust during the war. He said of his involvement in the play:
What is ironic is that I have been turned off from Judaism for years, believing in the simple concept that if I wasn't good, God would punish me. I feel different now. What we learned from the Sept. 11 tragedy is that we all should be tolerant, accepting of ourselves and feel uplifted. It is the best way to fight tyranny.
Perhaps he fits best with the scores of famous non-practicing Jews in the U.S. entertainment industry.
He writes the songs… and the checks
Manilow is quite the liberal Democrat. So liberal is Manilow that he refused to appear on the popular talk show, The View, because of the conservative views of one of the co-hosts, Elisabeth Hassleback. In a statement on his website, Manilow explained:
I had made a request that I be interviewed by Joy, Barbara or Whoopi, but not Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Unfortunately, the show was not willing to accommodate this simple request so I bowed out. It's really too bad because I've always been a big supporter of the show, but I cannot compromise my beliefs.
But most of Manilow's political statements come in the form of money. He has donated nearly $150,000 to politicians and political organizations since 1986. In 2012 alone, he donated $50,000 to Obama's victory fund. Out of the rest of his political contributions, only $3,300 has gone to Republicans.
What's interesting is that Manilow seemed to be endorsing Republican/Libertarian Ron Paul in 2007 (for the 2008 presidential elections). Not only did Manilow donate to Paul's campaign, he said:
I like [Ron Paul]. I like what he says, I do. I like what he says. I think he's solid. I agree with just about everything he says. What can I tell you?
Why is this interesting? I think it betrays Manilow's true views. Ron Paul is a theorist, an ideologue, the personification of a specific ideology–and Manilow agrees with almost everything he has to say. Obama is charismatic, sexy and flashy–it was almost required for entertainers to have endorsed Obama in 2008 and 2012. There is evidence of this if you consider that Manilow quickly backpedaled when confronted with his support of Paul. (Not to mention the fact that Obama supporters are splattered all over the Hollowverse.)
So, for this, I'm including Manilow among libertarians–not Libertarians mind you–but those "small l" libertarians who believe in the words of people like Ron Paul.
Oh, and he's also a liberal Democrat.