Donahue (TV Series 1967–1995) Poster


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The Godfather of the daytime talk show....commemorating "Donahue" on its golden 45th anniversary
rcj536521 October 2015
Even though it was abruptly canceled in 1996,the fact that it ran in national syndication for 26 years should tell you that "Donahue" was the godfather and the innovative pioneer of the modern day talk show. Let's face facts here. The majority of the shows that are on today would not exist if it weren't for Phil Donahue. Today's talk shows are nothing but utter garbage with nothing but chocolate pudding formats and whipped cream topics that basically kills an hour in their time slots(the prime examples of this are "Jerry Springer", "Maury", "The View", "Wendy Williams",not to mention the trash that comes from "Live with Micheal and Kelly", "The Real",and the worst of them all basically coming from either CNN or Fox News)that have no subject matter or appeal to their audience. The reason? Because the hosts rarely go after the serious topics that affect people in their everyday lives,and today's talk show hosts don't even know how to handle the hard, tough in-your-face- questions. They're basically nothing but gossip headlines that don't even make sense. Phil Donahue's fire and desire was way ahead of its time when his daytime talk show premiered in national syndication on January 5, 1970. But in the early-1970's at the height of the Vietnam War,the Watergate scandal with President Nixon,and the struggle for equality for minorities,nobody else on television wasn't even thinking about this especially for daytime television. Think about it. The talk shows at that time were still left over with musical and celebrity guests that were outdated junk from the late-1950's and early-to-mid- 1960's style to sugarcoat what was happening in the real world and make people feel good. For example,during the Civil Rights Movement and the Cuban Missile crisis of the early-1960's,there was no talk show on television that kept the people informed to what was happening in society. The television industry sugarcoated these topics by showing people constant repeats of "My Three Sons", "Donna Reed",and "Bewitched". Imagine if "Donahue" came on the scene at that time. You can bet he would have been on the air and tackle these issues head on with the hard,tough-in-your-face questions along with the open dialogue.

Phil Donahue's daytime syndicated talk show was a breath of fresh air when it premiered in 1970 that was informed and not to mention tackling controversial issues that were considered taboo for television at that time. At the time "Donahue" premiered the daytime television landscape was filled with candy coated talk show hosts ranging from "Merv Griffin", to "Mike Douglas", "Dinah Shore", "John Davidson",and "Dick Cavett". Not to mention an array of children's programming, daytime game shows and weekday serials(daytime soap operas) that basically filled the daytime television line-up during the 1970's and 1980's. Most of the topics "Donahue" had were very controversial with the straight up hard in-your- face-questions and open dialogue with his guests and his studio audience not to mention the important topics that many people were interested in that became the discussion of the day. Along with the hard questions and tough answers "Donahue" would walk around with his microphone so that the audience can ask questions to the guests. Sometimes intense and sometimes straight to the point that made this daytime talk show stand out from the competition.

Some of the topics that "Donahue" discussed ranged from "Missing Children",to "Suicide","Homosexuality","The Adult Film Industry","Drug Addiction","Abortions","Civil Rights","Polygamy",to "Interracial Marriage", "Same Sex Marriage","Bigotry",and so forth that were not only controversial but at the time too intense for television but the man knew how to get his guests to answer the tough questions and get the answers with the most important dialogue his audience wanted to hear and more. No matter how his style of questioning was to his guests "Donahue" set the bar for what was to come and his daytime talk show surpass all expectations.

His guests ranging from top-name celebrities like Sammy Davis, Jr., to Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis, Burt Reynolds, John Wayne, to Lucille Ball, Muhammad Ali, Dolly Parton, Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner, to Ann-Margret, Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, Bob Newhart, Dick and Tom Smothers, to Carroll O'Connor, Audrey Hepburn,Dick Clark, and Gore Vidal not to mention guest journalists like Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, Mike Wallace, Jane Pauley, Connie Chung, Lesley Stahl, Barbara Walters, to Geraldo Rivera and Morton Downey,Jr. not to mention the founder and creator of Turner Broadcasting and CNN's own Ted Turner. Future talk show hosts themselves like Arsenio Hall, Conan O'Brien, David Letterman, Jay Leno,and Oprah Winfrey were some of his guests. One episode had the entire family of the "Jacksons" too. And there were the controversial guests that included Minister Louis Farrakhan, Dick Gregory, political activists Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Novelists Ayn Rand, and Jacqueline Susann and gossip columnist Rona Barrett. One episode had adult film stars Ron Jeremy, Annette Haven, Nina Hartley, Vanessa Del Rio, Georgina Spelvin, and Jamie Gillis. Even having U.S. Presidents come as guests ranging from Richard Nixon, to Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and future Presidential candidates at the time Bill Clinton and Al Gore for there 1992 elections. And more controversial subject including one episode that involved the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles that pushed the envelope not to mention the trial of "O.J. Simpson" in a explicit filled 1994 episode.

The phenomenal success of "Donahue" won 12 Emmys for Outstanding Talk Show and was nominated for an impressive 18 Emmys during its astounding 26-year-run. When the "Donahue" show ended its run on September 13,1996 it paved the way for Oprah Winfrey, Sally Jessy Rapheal and a host of others that would follow. And Phil Donahue made that possible. Thank you.
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Phil Donahue Show was my favourite! Hope it will be revived.
rboudville27 January 2006
High quality topics, the wisdom of his years, masterful tactics in eliciting answers from guests and audience, crafty spontaneous, and at times - well timed pertinent flow of questions and inquiries, not self-opinionated, all these qualities that present talk-show hosts don't seem to have.

It appeared in Australia, some years ago and I was always glued to it. I like intelligent intellectual conversational entertainment, a help to broaden one's knowledge on current issues.

Was ever so disappointed when it disappeared off the TV channel, and could not stand the Oprah Winfrey Show. I was puzzled, why such an intelligent and skillful man was cast away for low quality talk show hosts like the Gerry Springer Show and Oprah episodes which don't measure up to my expectations.

I wish him well and a happy life for all the enjoyment he has provided my wife and myself for several years. I can only hope he may resurface again. But if he is about age 70 and well-off financially, I wish him a happy retirement.

In my opinion, there will never be another as good as Phil Donahue. God Bless you Mr Donahue, and "Thank you".

RBoudville age 63 Australia
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I just miss this show!!!
Sylviastel10 September 2007
Phil Donahue was the alternative to the Oprah Winfrey Show. Sometimes, all it would take to pick one over the other was the topic or show's guest. I felt Donahue was better than Oprah as a talk show host because it tackled the controversial, difficult, emotional, and celebrity guests without being so cautious as Oprah is with celebrities. Phil tackled issues such as homosexuality, divorce, atheism, politics, religion, and others. The show had Phil running up and down with a microphone in the audience. While I have a great respect for Oprah, Phil was the alternative until he could no longer compete with the competition. I always felt that Phil tried to understand a person's point of view, lifestyle, or choice as well as a person's mistake be it a celebrity or your neighbor. Phil never really treated his guests with preferential treatment. He may have married Marlo Thomas but I don't recall an episode with her. The show's legacy was that it was cut short of Oprah's phenomenon and I wonder what might have happened if we were allowed to choose between the two hosts. I have to say that Donahue holds a special place in my heart and nobody could take that away.
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Long before Oprah......there was Phil....
raysond3 August 2000
Before the reigns of TV talk shows were to become what they are today, there was one show in particular that broke the mold before even the days of Jerry Springer, Oprah Winfrey, and Geraldo Rivera for that manner, stumble into. Phil Donahue tackled tough issues before there time and his show was the center of these topics of morning discussion. While other shows back then,like Mike Douglas,Dinah Shore,and Merv Griffin were having guests and musical numbers and so forth,Donahue brought it out into the open and went head on with subjects that were strictly taboo for daytime television back then.

For instance, subjects like inter-racial marriages, homosexuality, bigotry, as well as political agendas, and even world affairs, as well as poverty and the overall point of drugs and drug addicts were some of the subjects his audience couldn't get enough of, and they wanted more (even in one episode show where the subject was cross-dressing and Phil came out in a woman's skirt!).

Donahue however, paved the way for the talk shows we have today, and for generations to come. Kudos to the father of daytime talk-Phil Donahue!!!!
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I miss Donahue
Dangerously_dead6 May 2002
India saw very little of Phil but thanx to "Star Plus" (Now Star World) the cable channel I was able to see a few episodes of "Donahue". I may be called idiotic but it was Oprah whose program replaced Donahue on my channel in India and I have never forgiven Oprah for that since. I sorely miss Donahue. Wasn't his show giving enough profits to continue for a few more seasons?
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