Marlo Thomas ~ That Girl and More at 81

Caption: Thomas (center) with co-star Ted Bessell(left) and guest star Mary Frann(right), in a 1968 photo from That Girl 

Marlo Thomas ~ That Girl and More at 81

Margaret JuliaMarloThomas(born November 21, 1937) is an American actress, producer, author, and social activist best known for starring on the sitcom That Girl(1966–1971) and her award-winning children’s franchise Free to Be… You and Me. She has received four Emmys, a Golden Globe, and the George Foster Peabody Award for her work in television, and she has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. She has also received a Grammy award for her children’s album Marlo Thomas and Friends: Thanks & Giving All Year Long. In 2014, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedomby President Barack Obamaat a White House ceremony, the highest honor that a civilian can receive.

Thomas serves as National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which was founded by her father Danny Thomasin 1962. She created the Thanks & Giving campaign in 2004 to support the hospital.

Early life

Marlo Thomas was born on November 21, 1937, in Detroit, Michigan, the eldest child of comedian Danny Thomas[3](1912 – 1991) and his wife, the former Rose Marie Cassaniti (1914 – 2000). She has a sister, Terre, and a brother, Tony Thomas, who is a television and film producer. Her father was a Roman Catholic Lebanese Americanand her mother was Sicilian American.[4]Her godmotherwas Loretta Young.

Thomas was raised in Beverly Hills, California. Her parents called her Margo as a child, though she soon became known as Marlo, she told The New York Times, because of her childhood mispronunciation of the nickname. She attended Marymount High Schoolin Los Angeles. Thomas graduated from the University of Southern Californiawith a teaching degree: “I wanted a piece of paper that said I was qualified to do something in the world,” she said. She also was a member of the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta.

Early career

That Girl


Thomas starred in an ABCpilot called Two’s Companyin 1965. Although it did not sell, it caught the attention of an ABCprogramming executive.

The concept eventually evolved into the sitcom entitled That Girl, in which Thomas played Ann Marie, a beautiful, up-and-coming actress with a writer boyfriend. The series told the daily struggles of Ann holding different temporary jobs while pursuing her dream of a career on Broadway. That Girlwas one of the first television shows to focus on a working, single woman who did not live with her parents, and it paved the way for many shows to come. Thomas was only the second woman to produce her own series, following Lucille Ball. That Girlaired from 1966 to 1971, producing 136 episodes, and was a solid performer in the Nielsen ratings. In 1971, Thomas chose to end the series after five years. Both ABC and the show’s sponsor, Clairol, wanted the series finale to be a wedding between the two central characters, but Thomas rebuffed them, saying that she felt it was the wrong message to send to her female audience, because it would give the impression that the only happy ending is marriage. That Girlhas since become popular in syndication.


Later career

After That Girl, eager to expand her horizons, Thomas attended the Actors Studio, where she studied with Lee Strasberguntil his death in 1982, and subsequently with Strasberg’s disciple Sandra Seacat. When she won her Best Dramatic Actress Emmy in 1986 for the TV movie Nobody’s Child, she thanked both individuals.

In 1972, she served as a California delegate to the Democratic National Conventionin Miami Beach, Florida. In 1973, Thomas joined Gloria Steinem, Patricia Carbine, and Letty Cottin Pogrebinas the founders of the Ms. Foundation for Women, the first women’s fund in the US. The organization was created to deliver funding and other resources to organizations that were presenting liberal women’s voices in communities nationwide.

In 1976, Thomas made a guest appearance on the NBCsituation comedyThe Practiceas a stubborn patient of her father Danny Thomas’s character Dr. Jules Bedford, and the chemistry of father and daughter acting together made for touching hospital-room scenes.

In 1977 Thomas was a guest on Donahue, the television talk show, when she and host Phil Donahue“fell in love at first sightThey were married on May 21, 1980. Thomas raised five stepchildren as a result of her marriage to Donahue.

She has made guest appearances on over two dozen television series. She has starred and produced a dozen television movies and had a robust career on Broadway.


Thomas has published seven best-selling books (three of them #1 best-sellers): In 1972, she released a children’s book, Free to Be… You and Me, which was inspired by her young niece Dionne Gordon. She went on to create multiple recordings and television specials of and related to that title: Free to Be… You and Me(1972, 1974) and Free to Be… A Family(1987), with Christopher Cerf.

The Right Words at the Right Time; The Right Words at the Right Time, Volume 2: Your Turn; Marlo Thomas and Friends: Thanks & Giving All Year Long(the CD version of which won the 2006 Grammy Awardfor Best Spoken Word Album for Children); her 2009 memoir, Growing Up Laughing; and It Ain’t Over…Till It’s Over: Reinventing Your Life and Realizing Yours Dreams Anytime, At Any Age(published 4/8/14)

Thomas serves as the National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospitalin Memphis, Tennessee, which was founded by her father, Danny Thomas. She donated all royalties from her 2004 book and CD Marlo Thomas and Friends: Thanks & Giving All Year Long(also produced with Christopher Cerf) and her two Right Words at the Right Timebooks to the hospital.

In 2010, Thomas created, a website for women aged 35+, associated with AOLand the Huffington Post.


Thomas is the recipient of four Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, a Grammy Award, a Jefferson Award, and the Peabody Award.

In 1996, she was awarded the Women in FilmLucy Awardin recognition of her excellence and innovation in her creative works that have enhanced the perception of women through the medium of television.[13]

On November 20, 2014, the Marlo Thomas Center for Global Education and Collaboration was opened as part of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Hillary Clintonpresided over the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

On November 24, 2014, President Barack Obamaawarded Thomas the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor an American civilian can receive, at a White House ceremony.


Marlo Thomas has a net worth of 35 million dollars. She is an inspiration to women around the world.  It is through her father’s legacy at St. Jude that she truly sees the benefit of service to others.  Her words resound with ‘give to what’s important to you’.  Allow yourself to be inspired by life, even when things are tough. Find a touchstone that provides strength.  Marlo wears a small ring of her dad’s that brings her close to him when she needs that.

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