Phil Donahue

Talk Show Host


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Phil Donahue describes the meandering path that led to hosting his long-running talk show, The Phil Donahue Show aka Donahue. He explains how his journey took him from announcing television news at KYW in Cleveland, Ohio, to working in a bank in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to directing radio news in Adrian, Michigan. He recalls how his success hosting the call-in radio talk show, "Conversation Piece," in Dayton, Ohio sparked the interest of the local television station's general manager. The result: Donahue, the longest running syndicated talk show in television history with its 29 year on-air reign. Donahue discusses the many controversial topics and guests featured on the show over the years - including White Supremacist David Duke - and details his activities following the final taping of Donahue. He also shares the story of meeting wife Marlo Thomas, how he feels about being parodied on Saturday Night Live, and what he really thinks of Oprah Winfrey. James Moll conducted the interview on May 9, 2001 in New York, NY.

"I realized during the commercials that these people in the audience were asking better questions than I was. So about the third or fourth show, I went out in the audience and it saved us. There would've been no 'Donahue' show without that studio audience."

Highlights
Phil Donahue on his favorite guests over the years
02:33
Phil Donahue on journalism
00:35
Phil Donahue on ending Donahue
00:54
Phil Donahue on making people laugh
00:44
Phil Donahue on not believing in censorship
01:03
Phil Donahue on being the first television program to feature male strippers
01:53
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years and influences; on beginning his career in journalism at a South Bend, Indiana television station
13:26
On his first job as a radio news director and the state of electronic journalism in the 1950s and early 1960s
07:22
On his marriage and family life; on the Women's Movement
04:04

Chapter 2

On his recollections of World War II; on pondering racism, sexism and stereotypes; on the Vietnam War
16:54
On getting his first show and national exposure on CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite
08:59
On interviewing Jimmy Hoffa
03:59

Chapter 3

On his call in talk-radio show "Conversation Piece" and transitioning to television
16:07
On his television talk show, Donahue (aka The Phil Donahue Show)
13:43

Chapter 4

On Donahue; on catering to a female audience for Donahue
12:50
On the staff of his show and the controversial topics covered; on how his talk show made him ponder religion; on his first marriage; on celebrity
17:44

Chapter 5

On some of the controversial/confrontational guests - including Jerry Rubin of the Chicago Seven - and special telecasts of Donahue; on his professional influences
09:19
On guests on Donahue and recording the show from Attica State Prison; on Donahue with Vladimir Pozner and later taking the show to The Soviet Union
20:39

Chapter 6

On the controversial topics covered on Donahue; on covering the Nazis marching on Skokie, Illinois on Donahue; on same sex couples raising children and PFLAG
18:21
On the Masters and Johnson episode of Donahue; on his first Emmy Award; on famous guests that appeared on his show: Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Anita Bryant, and Muhammed Ali
10:33

Chapter 7

On some of the controversial guests on his talk show: white supremacist David Duke and Nazi leader Albert Speer; on interviewing future wife Marlo Thomas
13:56
On writing the book "Donahue: My Own Story" and on producing the book "The Human Animal" - the latter in conjunction with a television project for NBC; on the emergence of color television; on fellow talk show hosts Sally Jessy Raphael and Oprah Winfrey
14:34

Chapter 8

On the talk show genre and how it changed over the years
11:10
On deciding to end Donahue and doing Pozner & Donahue on CNBC 
17:15

Chapter 9

On the last show of Donahue and the state of daytime talk shows
13:07
On retirement and pushing for televising executions
12:40
Shows

CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite

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Phil Donahue on getting his first national exposure on CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and a phone call from Walter Cronkite
03:30

Donahue

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Phil Donahue on his television talk show, Donahue (The Phil Donahue Show), and the controversial topics covered
13:43
Phil Donahue on the origins of his television talk show and the importance of the live studio audience
04:42
Phil Donahue on the early years of Donahue
30:35
Phil Donahue on some of the guests and special telecasts of Donahue
29:58
Phil Donahue on the different topics covered on Donahue
28:54
Phil Donahue on guests on his talk show Donahue
28:30
Phil Donahue on his talk show 
14:45
Phil Donahue on ending Donahue
13:07

Jenny Jones Show, The

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Phil Donahue on The Jenny Jones Show and how the marketplace had changed since he began his show
03:09

Jerry Springer

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Phil Donahue on Jerry Springer and how the marketplace had changed since he began his show
01:04

Oprah Winfrey Show, The

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Phil Donahue on The Oprah Winfrey Show
01:20
Phil Donahue on his thoughts on The Oprah Winfrey Show
00:40

Pozner & Donahue

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Phil Donahue on the CNBC program Pozner & Donahue with Vladimir Pozner
13:40

Ricki Lake

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Phil Donahue on Ricki Lake
01:11

Saturday Night Live

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Phil Donahue on being parodied on Saturday Night Live
02:11
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Phil Donahue on how syndication allowed him to cover more controversial topics than if he aired as a network owned show
02:51
Phil Donahue on the controversial topics covered on Donahue and complaints by individual stations
04:35
Phil Donahue on not believing in censorship
01:03

Criticism of TV

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Phil Donahue on the deterioration of daytime television
03:19

Diversity in Television

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Phil Donahue on his television talk show, Donahue, and the controversial topics covered
13:43
Phil Donahue on interviewing boxer Joe Frazier and doing the show from Attica Street prison
07:31

Emmy Awards

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Phil Donahue on winning his first Emmy
01:17

Fame and Celebrity

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Phil Donahue on celebrity 
02:03

Historic Events and Social Change

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Phil Donahue on his television talk show, Donahue, and the controversial topics covered
13:43
Phil Donahue on interviewing boxer Joe Frazier and doing the show from Attica Street prison
07:31

Industry Crossroads

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Phil Donahue on how the television industry was affected by the Quiz Show Scandals
01:44

Minorities

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Phil Donahue on interviewing boxer Joe Frazier and doing the show from Attica Street prison
07:31

Pop Culture

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Phil Donahue on celebrity 
02:03

Quiz Show Scandals

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Phil Donahue on how the television industry was affected by the Quiz Show Scandals
01:44

Technological Innovation

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Phil Donahue on his recollections of Ampex video 
02:21
Phil Donahue on not believing in censorship
01:03

Television Industry

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Phil Donahue on how the television industry was affected by the Quiz Show Scandals
01:44
Phil Donahue on how syndication allowed him to cover more controversial topics than if he aired as a network owned show
02:51
Phil Donahue on the controversial topics covered on Donahue and complaints by individual stations
04:35
Phil Donahue on the deterioration of daytime television
03:19

Trash TV

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Phil Donahue on the deterioration of daytime television
03:19
Genres

News and Documentary

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Phil Donahue on working in radio and television news
12:59

Talk Shows

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Phil Donahue on his television talk show, Donahue
13:43
Phil Donahue on the early years of Donahue
30:35
Phil Donahue on Donahue
29:58
Phil Donahue on Donahue
28:54
Phil Donahue on Donahue
28:30
Phil Donahue on Donahue and Pozner & Donahue
28:25
Phil Donahue on ending Donahue
13:07
People

Muhammad Ali

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Phil Donahue on interviewing Muhammad Ali
02:27

Anita Bryant

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Phil Donahue on interviewing Anita Bryant
02:19

Johnny Carson

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Phil Donahue on interviewing Johnny Carson
00:49

Walter Cronkite

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Phil Donahue on getting his first national exposure on CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and a phone call from Walter Cronkite
03:30
Phil Donahue on his admiration for Walter Cronkite
00:33

David Duke

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Phil Donahue on white supremacist David Duke on Donahue
01:56

Joe Frazier

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Phil Donahue on interviewing boxer Joe Frazier and doing the show from Attica State prison
07:31

Dick Gregory

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Phil Donahue on guest Dick Gregory and the controversy his appearance stirred 
00:58

Phil Hartman

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Phil Donahue on being parodied on Saturday Night Live by Phil Hartman
00:39

Jimmy Hoffa

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Phil Donahue on interviewing Jimmy Hoffa
03:54

Bob Hope

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Phil Donahue on Bob Hope wondering why Donahue wasn't on in L.A.
00:20
Phil Donahue on interviewing Bob Hope
00:49

Jenny Jones

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Phil Donahue on The Jenny Jones Show
03:09

Robert F. Kennedy

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Phil Donahue on interviewing Jimmy Hoffa
03:54

Ricki Lake

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Phil Donahue on Ricki Lake
01:11

Sally Jessy Raphael

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Phil Donahue on getting fellow talk show host Sally Jesse Raphael from radio to television
02:28

Jerry Springer

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Phil Donahue on Jerry Springer and how the marketplace had changed since he began his show
01:04

Gloria Steinem

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Phil Donahue on interviewing Gloria Steinem
07:13

Marlo Thomas

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Phil Donahue on marrying Marlo Thomas
01:08
Phil Donahue on interviewing Marlo Thomas
04:00
Phil Donahue on being parodied on Saturday Night Live
02:11

Danny Thomas

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Phil Donahue on his father-in-law, Danny Thomas
00:26

Mike Wallace

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Phil Donahue on his admiration for Mike Wallace
02:42

Oprah Winfrey

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Phil Donahue on fellow talk show host Oprah Winfrey and how she changed the genre
03:38
Phil Donahue on his thoughts on The Oprah Winfrey Show
00:41

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