Marlo Thomas

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her nearly two-and-a-half hour interview, Marlo Thomas speaks about growing up as Danny Thomas' daughter. She explains the close relationship she enjoyed with her father and how that affected her early years as an actress. She chronicles the events that led up to starring in and producing That Girl and discusses the then-burgeoning women's movement and its influence on both the show and her life. She describes the impetus for the children's classic, Free to be…You and Me and details the numerous television movies she produced and/or in which she acted. Thomas also speaks about her appearances on Friends, her marriage to Phil Donahue, and her production companies. Karen Herman conducted the interview in Beverly Hills, CA on March 26, 2003.

All views expressed by interviewees are theirs alone and not necessarily those of the Television Academy.

"I think the legacy of That Girl is the fact that, as Billy Persky always says, we threw the grenade into the bunker. We opened up the window for young women. You did not have to be the wife or the daughter of somebody or the secretary of somebody. You could be the somebody. The story could be about you and what you wanted in life. Once that happened, I think that really paved the way for a lot of other shows."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Marlo Thomas on her advice to aspiring actors and producers
01:08
Marlo Thomas on producing Free to be... You and Me
02:22
Marlo Thomas on the legacy of That Girl
00:55
Marlo Thomas on the impact her father Danny Thomas' passing had on her
00:59
Marlo Thomas on how she would like to be remembered
00:16
Full Interview

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Chapter 1

On her early years and childhood; on growing up as the daughter of TV legend Danny Thomas
On wanting to be an actress; on majoring in English at USC; on going to New York to act and being on the stage
On her first television appearances; on being compared to her father; on guest appearances on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Bonanza and McHale's Navy, on friend Barry Diller

Chapter 2

On Two's Company; on the genesis and pilot episode of That Girl  
On ABC wanting to change things in That Girl; on there being an audience for That Girl; on network changes between the original pilot episode and the first episode that aired; on her character's name
On Daisy Productions and becoming a producer; on being the sole female voice on the That Girl creative team; on mail she recieved and how it informed the show

Chapter 3

On Groucho Marx being considered for the role of her father on That Girl; On a typical workweek on That Girl; on the theme song; on her favorite episodes
On the fashions in That Girl; on reviews of the show; on merchandising; on not changing the title of That Girl to "The Marlo Thomas Show"
On guest actors on the series; on why the show went off the air; on the legacy of That Girl; on producing Free to be... You and Me

Chapter 4

On the children's album "Free to be... You and Me", and how it came to be a television special on ABC; on censorship issues; on global family issues
On her television special It Happened One Christmas and forming a production company to produce shows for women; on her marriage to Phil Donahue; on hosting The Body Human and producing and starring in Act of Passion: The Lost Honor of Kathryn Beck
On her turn as a dramatic actress in Nobody's ChildTaken AwayWish You Were HereHeld HostageUltimate Betrayal; on the death of her father, Danny Thomas

Chapter 5

On her role on Friends as a recurring character; on her character "Sandra Green"; on producing sitcoms; on Two Against Time
On writing her book The Right Words at the Right Time; on the growth of cable; on current projects
On her advice to aspiring actors and producers; on how audiences have changed; on her biggest career achievement; on how she would like to be remembered
Shows

Act of Passion: The Lost Honor of Kathryn Beck

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Marlo Thomas on producing the TV movie and starring in Act of Passion: The Lost Honor of Kathryn Beck
02:57

Bonanza

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Marlo Thomas on her guest appearance as a Chinese war bride on Bonanza  in the episode "A Pink Cloud Comes from Old Cathay" (airdate: April 12, 1964)
01:05

Danny Thomas Show, The aka Make Room for Daddy

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Marlo Thomas on her father Danny Thomas' fame and her thoughts on his television show, Make Room for Daddy
10:38

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Marlo Thomas on winning an Emmy for her dramatic role on Nobody's Child
00:49

Free to be... You and Me

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Marlo Thomas on producing Free to be... You and Me
02:22
Marlo Thomas on bringing Free to be... You and Me to television; on the use of satellites; on television's responsibility to children
08:17

Friends

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Marlo Thomas on guest-starring on Friends; on positing that "Rachel" is a modern "That Girl" 
03:26

Held Hostage

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Marlo Thomas on the TV movie Held Hostage
00:53

It Happened One Christmas

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Marlo Thomas on the TV movie remake of It's a Wonderful Life --  It Happened One Christmas
02:55

Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The

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Marlo Thomas on appearing on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis
00:56

McHale's Navy

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Marlo Thomas on appearing on McHale's Navy
00:29

Nobody's Child

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Marlo Thomas on Nobody's Child
03:23

That Girl

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Marlo Thomas on the premise of That Girl
23:33
Marlo Thomas on how the title of That Girl came about
01:10
Marlo Thomas on the structure and filming schedule on That Girl
02:24
Marlo Thomas on the That Girl theme song, written by Earle Hagen with lyrics by Sam Denoff
00:52
Marlo Thomas on her favorite episodes of That Girl; on the pilot episode and fashions 
09:36
Marlo Thomas on why That Girl went off the air and how her character changed over the years
02:00
Marlo Thomas on what would have happened to "Ann Marie" and where That Girl would be today
01:26
Marlo Thomas on the legacy of That Girl
00:55

Wish You Were Here

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Marlo Thomas on Wish You Were Here
00:25
Topics

Advice

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Marlo Thomas on the advice she received from Lucille Ball regarding being a producer
02:21

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Marlo Thomas on ABC wanting to change things in That Girl
01:01
Marlo Thomas on the rules for sexuality on That Girl
02:13
Marlo Thomas on bringing Free to be... You and Me to television and issues of censorship with "William Wants a Doll"
02:14

Characters & Catchphrases

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Marlo Thomas on the relationship between "Ann" and "Donald" on That Girl
01:43
Marlo Thomas on guest-starring on Friends -- she posits that "Rachel" is a modern "That Girl" 
00:50
Marlo Thomas on guest-starring on Friends as "Sandra Green"
00:56

Emmy Awards

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Marlo Thomas on winning an Emmy for her dramatic role on Nobody's Child
00:49

Historic Events and Social Change

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Marlo Thomas on the advice she received from Lucille Ball regarding being a producer
02:21
Marlo Thomas on the rules for sexuality on That Girl
02:13
Marlo Thomas on the TV movie remake of It's a Wonderful Life --  It Happened One Christmas
00:10

Pop Culture

View Topic
Marlo Thomas on the relationship between "Ann" and "Donald" on That Girl
01:43
Marlo Thomas on guest-starring on Friends -- she posits that "Rachel" is a modern "That Girl" 
00:50
Marlo Thomas on guest-starring on Friends as "Sandra Green"
00:56

Representation on Television

View Topic
Marlo Thomas on the advice she received from Lucille Ball regarding being a producer
02:21
Marlo Thomas on the rules for sexuality on That Girl
02:13
Marlo Thomas on the TV movie remake of It's a Wonderful Life --  It Happened One Christmas
00:10

Television Industry

View Topic
Marlo Thomas on the advice she received from Lucille Ball regarding being a producer
02:21
Marlo Thomas on ABC wanting to change things in That Girl
01:01
Marlo Thomas on the rules for sexuality on That Girl
02:13
Marlo Thomas on bringing Free to be... You and Me to television and issues of censorship with "William Wants a Doll"
02:14

Women

View Topic
Marlo Thomas on the advice she received from Lucille Ball regarding being a producer
02:21
Marlo Thomas on the rules for sexuality on That Girl
02:13
Marlo Thomas on the TV movie remake of It's a Wonderful Life --  It Happened One Christmas
00:10
Professions

Actress

View Profession
Marlo Thomas on her advice to aspiring actors and producers
01:08

Performers

View Profession
Marlo Thomas on wanting to be an actress 
00:59
Marlo Thomas on her advice to aspiring actors and producers
01:08

Producers

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Marlo Thomas on the advice she received from Lucille Ball regarding being a producer
02:20
Marlo Thomas on her advice to aspiring producers
00:57
Genres

Children's Programming

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Marlo Thomas on bringing Free to be... You and Me to television; on the use of satellites; on television's responsibility to children
08:17

Comedy Series

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Marlo Thomas on her father Danny Thomas' fame and her thoughts on his television show, Make Room for Daddy
08:38
Marlo Thomas on That Girl  
23:33
Marlo Thomas on That Girl
25:34
Marlo Thomas on guest-starring on Friends; on positing that "Rachel" is a modern "That Girl" 
03:26

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Marlo Thomas on bringing Free to be... You and Me to television; on the use of satellites; on television's responsibility to children
08:17
People

Danny Arnold

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Marlo Thomas on working with producer/her father Danny Arnold
00:39

Lucille Ball

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Marlo Thomas on the advice she received from Lucille Ball regarding being a producer
02:20

Milton Berle

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Marlo Thomas on guest actors on That Girl
01:11

Ted Bessell

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Marlo Thomas on her That Girl boyfriend "Donald," played by Ted Bessell
01:12
Marlo Thomas on how audiences didn't like "Donald" being her character's agent in the pilot episode of That Girl  
15:46

James L. Brooks

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Marlo Thomas on James L. Brooks writing an episode of That Girl
01:21

Sid Caesar

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Marlo Thomas on guest actors on That Girl
01:11

Sam Denoff

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Marlo Thomas on the premise of That Girl and how Sam Denoff and Bill Persky came on board
04:47
Marlo Thomas on Daisy Productions
01:55
Marlo Thomas on the That Girl theme song, written by Earle Hagen with lyrics by Sam Denoff
00:52

Phil Donahue

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Marlo Thomas on meeting and marrying Phil Donahue
00:56

David Dortort

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Marlo Thomas on her guest appearance as a Chinese war bride on Bonanza  in the episode "A Pink Cloud Comes from Old Cathay" (airdate: April 12, 1964)
01:05

Betty Friedan

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Marlo Thomas on the premise of That Girl
02:13

Lee Grant

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Marlo Thomas on producing the TV movie and starring in Act of Passion: The Lost Honor of Kathryn Beck
02:57

Earle Hagen

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Marlo Thomas on the That Girl theme song, written by Earle Hagen with lyrics by Sam Denoff
00:52

Sheldon Leonard

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Marlo Thomas on her interactions with Sheldon Leonard on the set of Make Room for Daddy
00:56

Groucho Marx

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Marlo Thomas on Groucho Marx being considered for the role of her father on That Girl
02:01

Sanford Meisner

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Marlo Thomas on her guest appearance as a Chinese war bride on Bonanza  in the episode "A Pink Cloud Comes from Old Cathay" (airdate: April 12, 1964)
01:05

Ethel Merman

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Marlo Thomas on guest actors on That Girl
01:11

Mike Nichols

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Marlo Thomas on working with Neil Simon and Mike Nichols in the play "Barefoot in the Park"
00:41

Margaret O'Brien

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Marlo Thomas on wanting to appear with her father in movies and TV shows when he was starring with child actress Margaret O'Brien
01:22

Bill Persky

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Marlo Thomas on the premise of That Girl and how Sam Denoff and Bill Persky came on board
04:47
Marlo Thomas on Daisy Productions
02:34

Wayne Rogers

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Marlo Thomas on the TV movie remake of It's a Wonderful Life --  It Happened One Christmas
02:55

Edgar J. Scherick

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Marlo Thomas on Two's Company
03:51

Fred Silverman

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Marlo Thomas on the TV movie remake of It's a Wonderful Life --  It Happened One Christmas
02:55

Neil Simon

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Marlo Thomas on working with Neil Simon and Mike Nichols in the play "Barefoot in the Park"
00:41

Peter Tewksbury

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Marlo Thomas on Two's Company
02:02

Danny Thomas

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Marlo Thomas on her father Danny Thomas' fame and her thoughts on his television show, Make Room for Daddy
08:38
Marlo Thomas on her father, Danny Thomas
00:36
Marlo Thomas on being recognized and being compared to her father
02:03
Marlo Thomas on the impact her father Danny Thomas' passing had on her
00:59

Orson Welles

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Marlo Thomas on the TV movie remake of It's a Wonderful Life --  It Happened One Christmas
02:55

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