Marlo Thomas

Marlo Thomas

  • National Outreach Director
  • St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

An award-winning actress, producer, social activist and philanthropist, Marlo Thomas has been a role model for women and girls since she blazed the trail as television’s first single woman living alone in the hit television series That Girl.

The eldest child of Danny Thomas, the renowned entertainer and founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Marlo proudly serves as National Outreach Director for St. Jude. She is the driving force behind countless fundraising and awareness efforts to educate the public about the lifesaving research and treatment being done every day at St. Jude. In 2004, she and siblings Terre and Tony Thomas created the St. Jude Thanks and Giving® campaign, which has since become a national holiday tradition. In 2014, in recognition of her commitment to the hospital, St. Jude christened its newest building The Marlo Thomas Center for Global Education and Collaboration. Hillary Rodham Clinton presided over the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

In addition to her acclaimed acting career in television and film and on the stage, she is the author of seven bestselling books: Free To Be...You & Me (a project that became a platinum album, Emmy Award-winning television special and a stage show), Free To Be…A Family (which also won an Emmy), The Right Words at the Right Time, The Right Words at the Right Time, Volume 2: Your Turn!, Thanks and Giving: All Year Long (which became a Grammy-winning CD) and, her memoir, Growing Up Laughing: My Story and the Story of Funny. In 2014, she published It Ain’t Over … Til It’s Over: Reinventing Your Life – and Realizing Your Dreams – Anytime, at Any Age, which chronicles the inspiring stories of women who reinvented their lives and careers. (Visit the St. Jude Gift Shop to purchase Marlo Thomas DVDs and books.)

In 2014, Marlo was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, the nation’s highest civilian honor presented to, “individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Marlo has received four Emmys, nine Emmy nominations, the George Foster Peabody Award, a Golden Globe and a Grammy, and she has been inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame. She also has been recognized for her activism and advocacy with, among others, the American Women in Radio and Television Satellite Award; the Ellis Island Medal of Honor; the American Cancer Society Humanitarian Award; the NAACP Pathway to Excellence Award; the William Kunstler Racial Justice Award; the Helen Caldicott Award for Nuclear Disarmament; the National Council of Jewish Women’s Rebekah Kohut Award; and the Jefferson Award for Public Service, which she received along with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Marlo is a co-founder of the historic Ms. Foundation for Women, which among other landmark achievements created the nation’s Take Our Daughters to Work Day; and in 2012, she launched a nationwide bullying prevention campaign in partnership with, among others, the Ad Council, AOL, Facebook, and the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.

Marlo began her career performing in regional theaters around the country, when director Mike Nichols cast her as the lead in the London production of Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. In 1965 she burst into television as That Girl, a series she conceived and also produced. She’s appeared in numerous acclaimed television movies, including Nobody’s Child, for which she won the Emmy for Best Dramatic Actress. She also frequently returns to the theatrical stage, on and off Broadway and in regional theatres across the country. In 2011, she starred on Broadway in Elaine May’s comedy, Relatively Speaking; and in 2015 appeared off-Broadway in Joe DiPietro’s comedy, Clever Little Lies.

Phil Donahue

Television talk show pioneer Phil Donahue, who is married to Marlo Thomas, is also active in the work of St. Jude. In 1967, Mr. Donahue debuted his first TV talk show in Dayton, Ohio, interviewing world leaders, newsmakers, celebrities and people from all walks of life. Three years later, the program entered nationwide syndication, launching the first coast-to-coast audience participation talk show in the country, and making “Donahue” a household word and an American institution. The Donahue show has been honored with 20 Daytime Emmy Awards, including 10 Emmys for Outstanding Host. In 1996, the Daytime Emmys presented Mr. Donahue with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to television journalism. In 2006, Mr. Donahue produced and co-directed (with Ellen Spiro) the film Body of War, an anti-Iraq War documentary. The film was chosen as Best Documentary by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, and was honored with the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Mr. Donahue is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame and the recipient of the George Foster Peabody Award.