All About Marlo Thomas


Marlo Thomas with St. Jude Patients

Marlo Thomas, daughter of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas,
became the spokesperson for St. Jude after her father’s death
in 1991. Thomas is the national outreach director for St. Jude.


Actress, producer and social activist, Marlo Thomas has been a role model for women and children since she blazed the trail as television’s first single woman living alone in the hit series That Girl. She has produced numerous inspiring projects, such as the best-selling television specials, books and records Free to Be…You and Me and Free to Be … A Family. She is the author of the New York Times best seller The Right Words at the Right Time as well as The Right Words at the Right Time, Volume 2: Your Turn!, and Thanks and Giving: All Year Long.

Marlo began her career performing in regional theaters around the country, when Mike Nichols cast her as the lead in the London production of Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. She then went on to star in and produce the long-running hit television series That Girl. Marlo has appeared in several Broadway productions, television films and feature films. She has made guest appearances on the hit television shows Friends, Ally McBeal and Ugly Betty.

Over the course of her ground-breaking career, Marlo has received a GRAMMY® award, four Emmys®, nine Emmy® nominations, a Golden Globe®, the George Foster Peabody Award for Television Excellence, the American Women in Radio and Television Satellite Award and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for exceptional humanitarian efforts and outstanding contributions to our country.

The eldest child of founder Danny Thomas, Marlo proudly serves as National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and hosts A Place of Hope, an hour-long television special that documents the lifesaving work of St. Jude. Marlo attends events around the country to promote St. Jude with corporations, individual donors and other celebrities. She has been actively involved in solidifying support for St. Jude with such partners as Target, Sterling Jewelers, Williams-Sonoma, Kmart, CVS/pharmacy, AutoZone, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and the Wall Street community, among many others. Marlo, along with her brother, Tony, and sister, Terre, also hosts the annual Runway for Life Celebrity Fashion Show in Hollywood, which raises $1 million a year for St. Jude and attracts many of Hollywood’s brightest stars.

In 2004, Marlo, Terre and Tony created Thanks and Giving®, a national campaign that encourages holiday shoppers to “Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not.” During the months of November and December, consumers are asked to help raise funds at participating retailers by adding a donation at check out or by purchasing specialty items to benefit St. Jude. Thanks to Marlo’s efforts, Thanks and Giving has been featured on NBC’s Today show in multiple segments spotlighting patients, doctors, scientists and the ground-breaking research and treatment  at St. Jude.


Phil Donahue

Also active in St. Jude’s work is Marlo’s husband Phil Donahue. Mr. Donahue used the television talk show format he pioneered in 1967 to interview world leaders, newsmakers, celebrities and people from all walks of life. What began as a local program launching the first audience participation talk show made DONAHUE a household word and American institution. The DONAHUE show has been honored with 20 Daytime Emmy Awards, including nine Emmys for “Outstanding Host.” In 1996, the Daytime Emmys presented Mr. Donahue with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to television journalism. Mr. Donahue is also a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame and recipient of the George Foster Peabody Award.

Last update: January 2009