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Marlo Thomas Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (15) | Personal Quotes (3)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 21 November 1937Detroit, Michigan, USA
Birth NameMargaret Julia Jacobs
Nicknames Miss Independence
Mugsy
Height 5' 4" (1.63 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Many well-known and highly identifiable actresses have tried and failed to make the arduous crossover from fizzy TV sitcom star to mature, dramatic artist. Usually, it was their hardcore fans who refused to accept them in any other light. Sally Field and Elizabeth Montgomery come to mind first as two actresses who somehow managed to make the none-too-easy adjustment. Marlo Thomas became another success story as well--but, like the others, it was none too easy. Adorable to a fault, Marlo seemed to have nowhere to go after the early 1970s when the cute and wholesome Ann Marie of That Girl (1966) was suddenly no more.

Born in Deerfield, Michigan, on November 21, 1937, to parents of Lebanese origin, Marlo was christened Margaret Julia Thomas. She was raised in the mad whirl of the entertainment business as the daughter of show business legend Danny Thomas, who was very determined that she not become an actress, at least until after college graduation. She actually began her adult life as a schoolteacher, but it was a very half-hearted career choice.

Marlo began with early TV appearances in the late 1950s on such series as The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959), Zane Grey Theater (1956) and Thriller (1960) Her first major break came when she was cast as Joey Bishop's sister and aspiring actress on the 1961 sitcom The Joey Bishop Show (1961) for one season. She continued to build up her resume with assorted guest shots on Bonanza (1959), McHale's Navy (1962), The Donna Reed Show (1958) and Ben Casey (1961). Following her delightful work on the London stage with "Barefoot in the Park" in 1965, she was finally given the opportunity to test for her own sitcom and passed with flying colors. Audiences adored the romantic entanglements and struggling ambition of "Ann Marie", a single, independent and very trendy young woman trying to make it as an actress in New York City. Marlo became an instant household name (as did co-star Ted Bessell) and nabbed a Golden Globe and four Emmy nominations during the show's five-year run.

Following its demise in 1971, however, Marlo was faced with a problem: being stereotyped as a perky, wide-eyed innocent. Capitalizing on her TV fame, she tried to shatter her lightweight image with a serious film part. Playing the title role of Jenny (1970) opposite Alan Alda, Marlo starred as an unwed pregnant girl who marries a filmmaker out of convenience. Although the valiant effort brought her a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer, audiences stayed away in droves, much preferring her to be chipper and upbeat. She made her Broadway debut in the Herb Gardner play "Thieves" in 1974, and later made another stab at films by recreating her role for the big screen. The reviews for Thieves (1977) were less than ecstatic and no other strong offers came her way.

Marlo decided to lay low for a time and wound up combining her deep love for children and education with her own career. She won bookend Emmy Awards as both star and producer of the children's specials Free to Be... You & Me (1974) in 1974 and Free to Be... a Family (1988). The album of the former continues to be in-print to the present day. By the late 1970s, however, audiences finally had stopped seeing her as only "Ann Marie". She earned renewed respect by stretching herself in TV movies. In the ABC holiday mini-movie It Happened One Christmas (1977), she played a troubled female version of James Stewart's It's a Wonderful Life (1946) character. She also won critical acclaim in the social, made-for-TV dramas The Lost Honor of Kathryn Beck (1984) and Consenting Adult (1985). She also copped an additional Emmy trophy as Best Actress in a Special for Nobody's Child (1986). Her subsequent return visits to Broadway with "Social Security" (1986) and "The Shadow Box" (1994) were rewarding as well. She has certainly not shied away from demanding theater roles, such as "Beatrice" in "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds" (1990), "Martha" in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1992) and Ouisa in "Six Degrees of Separation" (1992).

Although Marlo wed rather late in life, her enduring show business marriage since 1980 to talk-show icon Phil Donahue clearly indicates that the waiting was worthwhile. Still quite active on TV, she has continued to be a joy in everything from classic comedy (such as playing Jennifer Aniston's mom in Friends (1994)) to adult drama (as a lawyer/mentor in the highly-rated crime drama Law & Order (1990)).

Younger brother Tony Thomas and sister Terre Thomas have also had leanings toward show business. Tony has been a prolific TV and film producer over the years, and Terre has dabbled as an actress, once having a guest role on Marlo's sitcom, That Girl (1966). On a more personal level, Marlo has continued the tradition of her late father as both spokesperson and humanitarian for St. Jude's Children's Hospital for cancer research.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (1)

Phil Donahue (21 May 1980 - present)

Trade Mark (1)

Raspy voice

Trivia (15)

Is the eldest of three children of Danny Thomas and Rose Marie Mantell Thomas.
Her sister Terre Thomas, her brother Tony Thomas and her father Danny Thomas all appeared on the That Girl (1966) episode, That Girl: My Sister's Keeper (1969).
Remained friends with That Girl (1966) co-star Ted Bessell until his death. Thomas insisted Bessell see a doctor (which he did), when he complained of chest pains only days before he died.
Has Lebanese and Italian origins. Her father was Lebanese and her mother was Italian. Her mother's maiden name was Rose Marie Cassaniti.
Future successful television producer Aaron Spelling wrote the script for one of her very earliest television roles, an appearance with her father Danny Thomas on the anthology series Zane Grey Theater (1956) telecast on February 2, 1961: Zane Grey Theater: Honor Bright (1961).
Godmother is Loretta Young.
She studied drama at HB Studio in Greenwich Village, New York City.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital national outreach director.
Thomas and Donohue, long-time residents of Westport, Connecticut sold their sprawling Long Island Sound estate for close to its asking price, just under $30 million, moving to a smaller property across town. [December 2006]
Best known by the public for her starring role as the wholesome Ann Marie on That Girl (1966).
Attended and graduated from Marymount High School in Los Angeles, California (1956).
Attended and graduated from the University of Southern California with a teaching degree.
She was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.
Lifelong friends with Gloria Steinem.
Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama on November 24, 2014.

Personal Quotes (3)

My father said there were two kinds of people in the world: givers and takers. The takers may eat better, but the givers sleep better.
[on her debt to Lee Strasberg and Sandra Seacat, from her 2010 autobiography] I only wish Lee could have lived to see me portray a schizophrenic in Nobody's Child (1986). I never could have gotten near playing that kind of part without Lee's exercises, and the subsequent work I did and continue to do with his primary disciple, the brilliant Sandra Seacat.
[from "Growing Up Laughing: My Story and the Story of Funny" (2010)] I was learning that even a woman with power, the path was dotted with land mines -- she's so ambitious, she's so aggressive, she's ruthless. "Funny thing," I used to say, "a man has to be Joe McCarthy to be called ruthless... all a woman has to do is put you on hold.".

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