See Marlo Thomas From "That Girl" Today at 84
The actor played Ann Marie over 50 years ago. Find out what she's doing now.
Depending on your age, the reason you know who Marlo Thomas is will differ. Thomas came to fame on That Girl, which she also produced, in the late 1960s. In the 1980s, she won an Emmy for the TV movie Nobody's Child. In the '90s, she played Rachel's mom on Friends. Plus, she is also widely known for her work with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, appearing frequently in TV ads for the cause. The now-84-year-old actor has had a lengthy and varied career, and she's still working today. Along with continuing to take on TV and film roles, she also hosts a podcast with her husband and has written books. Read on to find out more about That Girl's life today.
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Her acting career spans seven decades.
Thomas began acting in the 1960s, following in the footsteps of her father, Danny Thomas, who was also a comedic actor. That Girl ran from 1966 to 1971, after which Thomas continued on with her acting career. She has appeared in The Practice, Nobody's Child, Frasier, Friends, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Ugly Betty, among many other shows and movies. Some of her most recent projects include 2017's Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later and 2018's Ocean's Eight.
She's also the author of several books.
Thomas has written seven books, including children's books, books about her own life, and a book about marriage that she co-wrote with her husband, talk show host Phil Donahue. Thomas' first children's book Free to Be… You and Me ended up becoming a franchise that includes TV specials and music that encourages kids to be themselves and learn that their gender doesn't determine what they can achieve. Thomas' latest book, What Makes a Marriage Last, was published in 2020. She and Donahue spoke to 40 couples about how they make their long marriages work. The pair also have a podcast, Double Date, about the same topic.
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She's been married for 41 years.
Thomas and Donahue got married in 1980 after initially meeting when she was a guest on his talk show. "We just clicked. We clicked on his show. It was obvious that we were very attracted to each other. I just loved his confidence," Thomas said on a March episode of The Drew Barrymore Show.
The couple did not welcome their own children together, but Thomas became the stepmother of Donahue's five kids. "From the very first day, I decided that I was not going to try to be a 'mother' to Phil's children in the traditional sense—they already had a mom—but, instead, to be their friend," she told AARP in 2011. "When I was growing up, my mother was always a friend to my siblings and me (in addition to being all the other things a mom is), and I was always grateful for that because I knew she was someone I could talk to and joke with, and argue with and that nothing would ever harm that friendship. So I used that model with Phil's kids, and I'm proud to say that the friendships I established with them are as strong today as they were 30 years ago—even stronger."
She's devoted to St. Jude Hospital.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital was founded by Thomas' father in 1962. The hospital treats children with diseases such as cancer and provides care for free. Thomas is the National Outreach Director for St. Jude and devotes herself to the cause.
"I honestly can't tell you where my thoughts of St. Jude begin and where they end," she told Town & Country in June. "If I'm not in a board meeting, I'm on the phone talking to a corporate sponsor, working on a fundraising video, or speaking at a hospital event. I even dream about the kids and their families."
She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In 2014, Thomas received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. "Whether championing equality for girls and women, giving voice to the less fortunate, breaking barriers by portraying one of television's first single working women on That Girl, or teaching children to be 'Free to Be You and Me,' Thomas inspires us all to dream bigger and reach higher," the White House press release reads.
Speaking to Town & Country about the honor, Thomas said it made her think about her grandparents, who were immigrants. "I tried not to weep, but the tears were coming down my face," she said. "I kept thinking, This is the possibility of America. This is why immigrants are so important. We must remember that."
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