OFFBEAT: Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue cherish Chicago memories

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column.
2010-10-29T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue cherish Chicago memoriesBy Philip Potempa, 219.852.4327

It was great to spend some time with Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas on Tuesday while the couple were in Chicago to promote Marlo's new book, "Growing Up Laughing: My Story and the Story of Funny"(Hyperion $26.99).

But I also had to share my time with them with Oprah Winfrey.

Well, at least with Oprah Winfrey's staff.

Here's the scoop: As it turns out, since this is Oprah's 25th and final season for her talk show, she's dedicating an episode next month to Donahue, Chicago's first king of daytime talk shows.

As a reminder to readers, the "Donahue" talk show lasted a total of 26 years as a nationally broadcast show, ending its run in 1996. It first began as a local talk show in Dayton, Ohio, when he launched it Nov. 6, 1967, with his first guest being the infamous atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair.

He moved the show to Chicago in 1974 to WGN and later WBBM, Channel-2 before he moved it to New York in 1985, just as Oprah was launching her new show.

Oprah had her lights, cameras and producers at Marlo's book-signing event at the Borders in Oakbrook Ill., Tuesday to capture some footage and also have the couple sit down after the signing to answer some one-on-one questions.

So, this treatment somewhat dispels the insinuation by "tell-all" biography author Kitty Kelley in her Oprah biography that came out over the summer that Oprah has always felt "slighted" by Donahue not "welcoming" her show launch when she first arrived to Chicago.

The episode that features the couple will air on "Oprah" on Nov. 10.

On Tuesday, Thomas talked about how she first met Phil as a guest on his talk show in 1979 and was immediately dazzled by his gentle and caring manner. The couple married in 1980 and have now been together for 30 years. During the early part of their marriage, they lived in Phil's house north of Chicago in Winnetka with his children from his first marriage.

As for Thomas' favorite episode of her television series "That Girl," she said it's always been the one that feature her "real-life" family starring in cameo roles, such as her real-life sister playing "a sister" in a convent and her famous father Danny Thomas playing a priest.

Danny, who died at age 77 in 1991, was always proud of three things: his career, his daughter's success and the good efforts of his St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Marlo shared a wonderful favorite quote of her father's which I'm passing along to you, the readers.

"There are two types of people in this world," Danny would tell his daughter.

"There are the givers and the takers. The takers might eat better. But the givers always sleep better."

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or 219.852.4327.



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