- NAME: Phil Donahue
- OCCUPATION: Talk Show Host
- BIRTH DATE: December 21, 1935 (Age: 78)
- Did You Know?: Phil Donahue's most frequent guest on his show was Ralph Nader, who appeared on the talk show 34 times between 1968 and 1996.
- Did You Know?: Phil Donahue met his second wife, Marlo Thomas, on the set of his talk show in 1977. They got married three years later.
- EDUCATION: University of Notre Dame
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Cleveland, Ohio
- Full Name: Phillip John Donahue
- AKA: Phil Donahue
- ZODIAC SIGN: Sagittarius
Best Known For
A pioneering talk show host, Phil Donahue's Phil Donahue Show paved the way for virtually every talk show to appear on TV since.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Born on December 21, 1935, in Ohio, Phil Donahue introduced the world to the modern talk show. He started at a radio station, with a show that was geared towards women. His show, aptly named The Phil Donahue Show, ran from 1967 to 1996 and promoted a more progressive view of politics, economics and women on television that hadn't been seen before. He followed with a strig of hosting gigs and left a legacy as a talk show host that has affected several prominent figures in the industry,
"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."
"If there hadn't been a Phil, there wouldn't have been a me."
including Sally Jesse Raphael and Oprah Winfrey.
Talk show host Phillip John Donahue was born on December 21, 1935, in Cleveland, Ohio. His father, Phillip, was a furniture salesman, and his mother, Catherine, worked as a shoe clerk. He attended the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, where he graduated in 1957.
Upon graduation, Donahue got a job at KYW radio in Cleveland, Ohio as a production assistant. He moved to the position of an announcer after the usual announcer didn't show up for work. At WHIO in Dayton, he became a newscaster, and also started his first radio talk show called Conversation Piece in 1963. The program ran for four years until he left WHIO in 1967 and joined a rival station, WLWD-TV.
At WLWD-TV, Donahue tried out a new format for television, with his talk show, The Phil Donahue Show, aiming their content at "women who think." His idea was to involve the audience, and have them interact in person, or via telephone, with his guests. His first guest, an atheist named Madalyn Murray O'Hair, in conjunction with topics that attempted to be substantive, relevant, informative and somewhat controversially progressive, quickly made ratings for the landmark show skyrocket.
The show's popularity led to it being nationally syndicated in 1972, before gaining more momentum and being broadcast at WGN in Chicago two years later. His devotion to addressing the taboo issues of the time, particularly women's issues, paved the way for other talk show hosts such as Geraldo Rivera, Sally Jesse Raphael and Oprah Winfrey—the latter, having also started her broadcast talk show in Chicago, paid homage specifically to the pioneering talk show host, saying "if there hadn't been a Phil, there wouldn't have been a me."
Unfortunately, the same talk show hosts that he inspired were the ones that brought about his downfall on the airwaves. After having won his first of nine Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Host in 1977, he approached an era of television that didn't find his topics as compelling as they had been in the past. In the early '90s, Donahue was beginning to see a decline in ratings, with hosts like Raphael and Winfrey taking the lead instead. It even got to a point where Donahue's divisive commentary kept his programming from airing on certain stations, namely WNBC in New York, the owners of the studio where Donahue—as it was eventually known—was filmed. In 1996, after nearly 30 years on the air, his show ended its run on the air.
profile name: Phil Donahue profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Famous Sagittarians 607 people in this group
Since the early days of television, talk show hosts have been among the most popular personalities in the medium. From TV pioneers like Jack Paar and Johnny Carson to daytime legends like Phil Donahue and Oprah Winfrey to late night talkers like Jon Stewart and Jimmy Kimmel, here is a look at the famous hosts who have talked the talk on TV.
Famous Talk Show Hosts 98 people in this group
Famous People Named Phil 8 people in this group