Phil Donahue – The Pioneer of Talk Shows!

Phillip John “Phil” Donahue is a popular American media personality and writer. Donahue is also a film producer and is best known for his role as the host and creator of his own show titled ‘The Phil Donahue Show’. His show, earlier titled ‘Donahue’ is credited as the first ever American talk show that included the concept of audience participation. The show ran for a total of 29 years on American national television, beginning in Dayton, Ohio in 1967 and ending in 1996 in New York City.

In a career spanning 6 decades, Donahue has received 20 Emmy Awards, out of which 10 are for his work on ‘The Phil Donahue Show’ and the other 10 are in the category of ‘Outstanding talk-show host’. He was also felicitated with the prestigious ‘Peabody Award’ in 1980. Besides these recognitions, in November 1993, Donahue was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame. He also hosted the MSNBC show ‘Donahue’ for a year from 2002-2003.

Early Life and Education

Donahue was born on 21 December 1935 in Cleveland Ohio and is the son of Phillip Donahue and Catherine McClory. While his father was a sales clerk for furniture, his mother worked at as a shoe clerk at a department store. Donahue was raised in a middle-class Irish Catholic family that attended Church religiously.

Donahue attended the St. Edward High School, an all boys Catholic private School and graduated in 1953, as a member of the school’s first graduating class. The School was run by suburban Lakewood’s (Ohio) Congregation of Holy Cross. Donahue later attended the University Of Notre Dame, Indiana, graduated with a bachelors in Business Administration degree in the year 1957.

Career Rise

Donahue started his career in the year 1957 in the capacity of a production assistant at the KYW radio and television network in Cleveland. After graduating, he joined the WABJ radio network in Adrian, Michigan and served as a program director. He also held the position of a stringer at CBS Evening News and was named the anchor on WHIO-TV morning newscast in Dayton, Ohio. From 1963 to 1967, Donahue hosted ‘Conversation Piece’, a popular phone-in talk show in the afternoons also on WHIO radio.

Donahue started hosting ‘The Phil Donahue Show’ in November 1967 on WLW-D, in Dayton, Ohio. The show remains his biggest accomplishment till date and became the first ever talk-show that introduced the concept of audience participation and also holds the distinction of being the longest ever continuously run talk show on American television history. In his long illustrious career, Donahue has interviewed various politicians, celebrities and human rights activists such as John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Elton John, Muhammad Ali etc. The show went off air in 1996. Donahue has since appeared as a guest host on various shows in USA.



Donahue has been married twice. He was first married to Margaret Cooney in 1958 but the couple divorced in 1975. With Cooney, Donahue fathered five children; four sons named Michael, Daniel, Kevin, and James “Jim” Patrick Donahue and a daughter named Mary Rose. His son James died after suffering from aortic aneurysm when he was 51 years old.

Donahue got married for the second time in May 1980, this time with actress Marlo Thomas who is the daughter of comedian Danny Thomas. The couple do not have any children together and live in Manhattan, New York.

With Wife Marlo Thomas

Phil Donahue – Net Worth

Donahue has an estimated net worth of approximately $25 Million.