MAKERS Profile

Phil Donahue

Pioneering Television Talk Show Host

In this video

Phil Donahue talks about the women's movement, bringing feminism to daytime television, his wife Marlo Thomas, and why he thinks "this is going to be some century."
In 1967, Phil Donahue changed the face of daytime television, pioneering the audience-participation talk format as the host of the Donahue show, a 29-year run which stands as the longest of its kind in U.S. television history. His TV journalism earned him 20 Emmy Awards — 9 as host and 11 for the show — as well as the George Foster Peabody Award; the President's Award from the National Women's Political Caucus; the Media Person of the Year Award from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance; and induction into the Academy of Television’s Hall of Fame. TV Guide named Donahue one of the Greatest Television Shows of All Time.   Donahue has frequently been lauded for his groundbreaking interviews with world leaders and newsmakers — including Muhammad Ali, Johnny Carson, Ayn Rand, Nelson Mandela, Madalyn Murray O'Hair (his first Donahue guest), Margaret Meade and all of the presidents since Jimmy Carter. In 1985, he introduced satellite "spacebridge" telecasts between the United States and the Soviet Union, and then brought his talk show to Russia for a week of programs. He was the first Western journalist to visit Chernobyl after the nuclear accident there.   Donahue has also headlined numerous network and public television specials, including the Emmy Award-winning children's special, Donahue and Kids, the landmark Ryan White Talks to Kids about AIDS and The Human Animal; an exploration of human behavior which was also a five part, prime time series that aired on the NBC television network.   In 2006, Donahue co-produced and co-directed Body of War, a documentary film about a young Iraq War veteran left in a wheelchair by enemy gunfire who begins questioning America’s involvement in the war. Universally hailed by critics ("almost unbearably moving," wrote TIME magazine), Body of War captured, among others, the Best Documentary award from the National Board of Review; the Grand Jury Prize at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival; and a People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival.   Donahue is also an admired writer, whose opinion columns have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times. He is the author of the best-selling memoir, "Donahue: My Own Story"; and "The Human Animal."   A native of Cleveland and the father of five and grandfather of two, Donahue is married to award-winning actress, author and activist Marlo Thomas. They live in New York.

More From Phil

Loud and Clear
Phil Donahue talks about our warrior culture and how women in leadership can change that.

If I Were Born Female
Phil Donahue talks about marriage.

More Enlightened Parents
Phil Donahue talks about how women's roles in the workplace are changing.

A Great Lesson
Phil Donahue talks about voicing his view about war on CNN and his experience visiting the White House

Where the Saints are Made
Phil Donahue talks about his experience marching in the gay parade.

Don't Prance
Phil Donahue talks about the importance of not being full of yourself.

Don't Be a Phony
Phil Donahue talks about the greatest act of moral courage he had ever seen.

In My Next Life
Phil Donahue talks about the stereotype of feminism. 

Donahue Alumni
Phil Donahue talks about how he is flattered by Oprah owing her success to him.

Mr. Lonely
Phil Donahue talks about meeting and falling in love with his wife, Marlo Thomas.

The Burning Bed
Phil Donahue talks about the impact of domestic violence.

Phil Donahue talks about his wife Marlo Thomas and how he considers himself very lucky.