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."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Phil Donahue on his favorite guests over the years
Phil Donahue on journalism
Phil Donahue on ending Donahue
Phil Donahue on making people laugh
Phil Donahue on not believing in censorship
Phil Donahue on being the first television program to feature male strippers
Full Interview

Chapter 1

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

Chapter 2

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

Chapter 3

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

Chapter 4

On Donahue; on catering to a female audience for Donahue
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

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
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

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
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

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
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

Chapter 8

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

Chapter 9

On the last show of Donahue and the state of daytime talk shows
On retirement and pushing for televising executions
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

Donahue

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Phil Donahue on his television talk show, Donahue (The Phil Donahue Show), and the controversial topics covered
Phil Donahue on the origins of his television talk show and the importance of the live studio audience
Phil Donahue on the early years of Donahue
Phil Donahue on some of the guests and special telecasts of Donahue
Phil Donahue on the different topics covered on Donahue
Phil Donahue on guests on his talk show Donahue
Phil Donahue on his talk show 
Phil Donahue on ending Donahue

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

Jerry Springer

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

Oprah Winfrey Show, The

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Phil Donahue on The Oprah Winfrey Show
Phil Donahue on his thoughts on The Oprah Winfrey Show

Pozner & Donahue

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Phil Donahue on the CNBC program Pozner & Donahue with Vladimir Pozner

Ricki Lake

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Phil Donahue on Ricki Lake

Saturday Night Live

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Phil Donahue on being parodied on Saturday Night Live
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
Phil Donahue on the controversial topics covered on Donahue and complaints by individual stations
Phil Donahue on not believing in censorship

Criticism of TV

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Phil Donahue on the deterioration of daytime television

Diversity in Television

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

Emmy Awards

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Phil Donahue on winning his first Emmy

Fame and Celebrity

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Phil Donahue on celebrity 

Historic Events and Social Change

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

Industry Crossroads

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

Minorities

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

Pop Culture

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Phil Donahue on celebrity 

Quiz Show Scandals

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

Technological Innovation

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Phil Donahue on his recollections of Ampex video 
Phil Donahue on not believing in censorship

Television Industry

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

Trash TV

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Phil Donahue on the deterioration of daytime television
Genres

News and Documentary

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Phil Donahue on working in radio and television news

Talk Shows

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Phil Donahue on his television talk show, Donahue
Phil Donahue on the early years of Donahue
Phil Donahue on Donahue
Phil Donahue on Donahue
Phil Donahue on Donahue
Phil Donahue on Donahue and Pozner & Donahue
Phil Donahue on ending Donahue
People

Muhammad Ali

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Phil Donahue on interviewing Muhammad Ali

Anita Bryant

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Phil Donahue on interviewing Anita Bryant

Johnny Carson

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Phil Donahue on interviewing Johnny Carson

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
Phil Donahue on his admiration for Walter Cronkite

David Duke

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Phil Donahue on white supremacist David Duke on Donahue

Joe Frazier

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

Dick Gregory

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

Phil Hartman

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Phil Donahue on being parodied on Saturday Night Live by Phil Hartman

Jimmy Hoffa

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Phil Donahue on interviewing Jimmy Hoffa

Bob Hope

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Phil Donahue on Bob Hope wondering why Donahue wasn't on in L.A.
Phil Donahue on interviewing Bob Hope

Jenny Jones

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Phil Donahue on The Jenny Jones Show

Robert F. Kennedy

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Phil Donahue on interviewing Jimmy Hoffa

Ricki Lake

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Phil Donahue on Ricki Lake

Sally Jessy Raphael

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

Jerry Springer

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

Gloria Steinem

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Phil Donahue on interviewing Gloria Steinem

Marlo Thomas

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Phil Donahue on marrying Marlo Thomas
Phil Donahue on interviewing Marlo Thomas
Phil Donahue on being parodied on Saturday Night Live

Danny Thomas

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Phil Donahue on his father-in-law, Danny Thomas

Mike Wallace

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Phil Donahue on his admiration for Mike Wallace

Oprah Winfrey

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Phil Donahue on fellow talk show host Oprah Winfrey and how she changed the genre
Phil Donahue on his thoughts on The Oprah Winfrey Show

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