How They Met: The secret to Howie Mandel’s 43-year-long marriage with his wife

Toronto’s own Howie Mandel has been making us laugh for decades. Whether you know him from his standup comedy, his self-titled comedy show, his role as a host on Deal or No Deal or as a judge on America’s Got Talent and now Canada’s Got Talent, he’s honed his craft both here and abroad. He performed at Yuk Yuk’s in Toronto before being discovered at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles — and through it all, he’s had his wife, Terry, by his side. The pair started dating in high school and have been together ever since. Ahead of the season two premiere of Canada’s Got Talent on Tuesday, Mandel shares the secret to success of a relationship that has lasted over 40 years (hint: it’s not him!). 

How they met

We met in high school. We were in line to buy french fries at the snack shop at the Y, and I didn’t have enough money, so I borrowed a quarter from her, and I’ve been paying her back ever since.

The courtship

This is it! She’s still being courted. The most memorable moments? Our three children, which I’m told are mine!

The proposal

I was sitting in a deli, and I’d bought a loose diamond, and I put it on the table and said, “I got to go to the bathroom, but if you want to make a ring go ahead.”

I’m not a romantic; neither of us is romantic. One time in 43 years, I brought flowers home, and she said, “Where did you get these?” The truth is, I did take them from the set that I was working on.

The wedding and honeymoon

We were married in Toronto in 1980. We went to Yuk Yuk’s for our honeymoon. I was already living in Los Angeles, and we had to fly up for the wedding. We barely had enough money to buy the plane tickets for the wedding, so I timed it as a business trip (although I didn’t have big business then). Mark Breslin of Yuk Yuk’s gave me a feature, and the day after our wedding, she was sitting on a stool beside me on the stage at Yuk Yuk’s, and I explained to the audience that this was my honeymoon show. Again, I’m not a romantic, but this was a moment that she’ll never forget (or she’ll never let me forget!).

The kids

Yes, we have three kids. Two girls and a boy, and we have two grandkids.

Balancing a career and marriage

The more career I have, the better the marriage is. People ask us, “How do you make it last so long?” My wife says it’s because I’m always on the road. When I’m up in Canada filming Canada’s Got Talent and she’s not there with me, it makes her love me even more.

Shared hobbies and interests 

I don’t have a hobby, and I don’t know that she has a hobby! I just work and hang out with my family. But we are interested in each other, so that’s a shared interest.

The secret to success

The secret for me is my wife. People have seen me on television or in concert and think I’m fun, and I probably am for a couple of hours, but living with me is not easy. I have a hard time living with me, and I’m seeing professionals to learn to cope with myself, and I take medication, so the fact that she has put up with me for 43 years is amazing. This question is for her. If there are any awards to be given out, please give them to my wife. She deserves it. I appreciate her and feel like the luckiest guy in the world.

The future

My philosophy is never to look into the future. I just try to make now as good as I can. All I have is now. I don’t know what tomorrow brings or what 10 minutes from now brings. I just try to cope and live and enjoy now. So hopefully in the future, there’s more nows.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO