Iconic Talk Show Host Phil Donahue Gives an Update on His Life After Receiving a Very Special Award

The Phil Donahue Show Phil Donahue, 1970-96
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Talk show legend Phil Donahue is now 88 years old and has been relatively quiet recently. However, he just received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Joe Biden and opened up about his life these days with his wife of 44 years, Marlo Thomas. Thomas earned her own Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2014.

Donahue previously shared, “Being forced to quarantine during the pandemic taught us how great it was to slow down and hang out, but then the hectic schedule started again. So we’re determined to get back to a slower pace, and that means curling up on the couch in front of the TV with a big bowl of popcorn. I like to call it ‘Netflix and Phil.’”

Phil Donahue is seen before being presented a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, for President Joe Biden in the East Room of the White House on Friday, May 3, 2024

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“I do miss it occasionally,” he said of working on-air. “Sometimes I’ll shout my question to a guest on the screen and hope they’ll somehow hear me. But to be honest, even though the medium has changed a bit — the sets are fancier, the productions are slicker, and the hosts are thankfully more diverse — all of the talk shows still cleave to the one thing that laid at the foundation of the 7,000 episodes I taped, and that’s curiosity. I still believe that, despite our differences, we’re all part of this sprawling global family, and we just need to get to know each other, so that we can share the world together.”

Former talk show host Phil Donahue talks about the death sentence of Timothy McVeigh May 13, 2001 on NBC's "Meet the Press" during a taping at the NBC studios in Washington, DC.

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Donahue hosted The Phil Donahue Show (which was later shortened to Donahue) for nearly 30 years until it ended in 1996. The show focused on controversial topics including abortion and civil rights. Donahue was dubbed the “King of Daytime Talk” and inspired countless talk show hosts to come including Oprah Winfrey. While Donahue stays fairly quiet these days, his wife shares a lot on social media including some fun throwbacks.


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She said about talking to the fans online, “When you’re on television or in films, you know your fans are out there and you can feel their support in a cosmic kind of way. But when you’re on Facebook or Instagram, you can actually interact with each other. It’s so much more real. We can have a conversation.” Glad to hear they are both doing well these days! Tell us, did you watch The Phil Donahue Show? Any notable episodes jump out at you?

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