Many well-known and highly identifiable actresses have tried and failedto make the arduous crossover from fizzy TV sitcom star to mature,dramatic artist. Usually, it was their hardcore fans who refused toaccept them in any other light. 'Sally Field' and'Elizabeth Montgomery (I)' come to mind first as two actresses whosomehow managed to make the none-too-easy adjustment. Marlo Thomasbecame another success story as well--but, like the others, it was nonetoo easy.
Adorable to a fault, Marlo seemed to have nowhere to go afterthe early 1970s when the cute and wholesome Ann Marie of "That Girl" (1966) was suddenly no more. Born in Deerfield, Michigan, on November 21, 1937, to parents ofLebanese origin, Marlo was christened Margaret Julia Thomas. She wasraised in the mad whirl of the entertainment business as the daughterof show business legend 'Danny Thomas (I)' , who was verydetermined that she not become an actress, at least until after collegegraduation. She actually began her adult life as a schoolteacher, butit was a very half-hearted career choice. Marlo began with early TV appearances in the late 1950s on such seriesas "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" (1959) , "Zane Grey Theater" (1956) and "Thriller" (1960) Herfirst major break came when she was cast as 'Joey Bishop (I)' 'ssister and aspiring actress on the 1961 sitcom "The Joey Bishop Show" (1961) for one season.
She continued tobuild up her resume with assorted guest shots on "Bonanza" (1959) , "McHale's Navy" (1962) , "The Donna Reed Show" (1958) and "Ben Casey" (1961) . Following her delightful work on the London stage with "Barefoot in thePark" in 1965, she was finally given the opportunity to test for herown sitcom and passed with flying colors. Audiences adored the romanticentanglements and struggling ambition of "Ann Marie", a single,independent and very trendy young woman trying to make it as an actressin New York City. Marlo became an instant household name (as didco-star 'Ted Bessell' ) and nabbed a Golden Globe and four Emmynominations during the show's five-year run. Following its demise in 1971, however, Marlo was faced with a problem:being stereotyped as a perky, wide-eyed innocent.
Capitalizing on herTV fame, she tried to shatter her lightweight image with a serious filmpart. Playing the title role of Jenny (1970) opposite'Alan Alda' , Marlo starred as an unwed pregnant girl who marries afilmmaker out of convenience. Although the valiant effort brought her aGolden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer, audiences stayedaway in droves, much preferring her to be chipper and upbeat. She madeher Broadway debut in the 'Herb Gardner' play "Thieves" in 1974,and later made another stab at films by recreating her role for the bigscreen. The reviews for Thieves (1977) were less than ecstaticand no other strong offers came her way.
Marlo decided to lay low for a time and wound up combining her deep lovefor children and education with her own career. She won bookend EmmyAwards as both star and producer of the children's specials Free to Be. . . You & Me (1974) (TV) in 1974 and Free to Be.
. . a Family (1988) (TV) . The album of the formercontinues to be in-print to the present day. By the late 1970s,however, audiences finally had stopped seeing her as only "Ann Marie".
She earned renewed respect by stretching herself in TV movies. In theABC holiday mini-movie It Happened One Christmas (1977) (TV) ,she played a troubled female version of 'James Stewart (I)' 's It's a Wonderful Life (1946) character. She also won criticalacclaim in the social, made-for-TV dramas The Lost Honor of Kathryn Beck (1984) (TV) and Consenting Adult (1985) (TV) . She also copped an additional Emmytrophy as Best Actress in a Special for Nobody's Child (1986) (TV) . Her subsequent return visits toBroadway with "Social Security" (1986) and "The Shadow Box" (1994) wererewarding as well.
She has certainly not shied away from demandingtheater roles, such as "Beatrice" in "The Effect of Gamma Rays onMan-in-the-Moon Marigolds" (1990), "Martha" in "Who's Afraid ofVirginia Woolf?" (1992) and Ouisa in "Six Degrees of Separation"(1992). Although Marlo wed rather late in life, her enduring show businessmarriage since 1980 to talk-show icon 'Phil Donahue' clearlyindicates that the waiting was worthwhile. Still quite active on TV,she has continued to be a joy in everything from classic comedy (suchas playing 'Jennifer Aniston' 's mom in "Friends" (1994) ) toadult drama (as a lawyer/mentor in the highly-rated crime drama "Law & Order" (1990) ). Younger brother 'Tony Thomas (I)' and sister 'Terre Thomas' have also had leanings toward show business. Tony has been a prolificTV and film producer over the years, and Terre has dabbled as anactress, once having a guest role on Marlo's sitcom, "That Girl" (1966) .
On a more personal level, Marlo hascontinued the tradition of her late father as both spokesperson andhumanitarian for St. Jude's Children's Hospital for cancer research. .
|1||Acts of Love and Other Comedies||1973||as Host/Gina/Susan/Ed's Girlfriend/Eleanor Grogman/Stephanie Hellman/Barbara|
|2||Funny Women of Television||1991||as Herself - Host (segment "Sitcoms Dealing with Serious Issues")|
|3||Great Women of Television Comedy||2003||as Herself|
|4||The 12th Annual Golden Laurel Awards||2001||as Herself - Presenter|
|5||The 21st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards||1969||as Herself - Presenter|
|6||The 23rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards||1971||as Herself - Presenter|
|7||The 30th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards||1978||as Herself - Co-Presenter: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series|
|8||The 32nd Annual Academy Awards||1960||as Herself - Audience Member|
|9||The 37th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards||1985||as Herself - Presenter: Outstanding Animated Program|
|10||The 39th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards||1987||as Herself - Presenter|
|11||The 3th Annual Mr. Abbot Awards||1987||as Herself|
|12||The 40th Annual Tony Awards||1986||as Herself - Performer & Presenter: Best Leading Actor in a Play|
|13||The 41st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards||1989||as Herself - Co-Presenter: Outstanding Lead Actress/Actor in a Miniseries or Special|
|14||The 43rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards||1991||as Herself - Presenter|
|15||The 5th Annual GLAAD Media Awards||1994||as Herself|
|16||The Annual Museum of Television and Radio Gala||1997||as Herself|
|17||Ultimate Betrayal||1994||as Adult Sharon Rodgers|
|18||Happily Never After||2012||as Herself - Narrator|
|19||Makers: Women Who Make America||2013||as Herself|
|20||The Donna Reed Show||1958||as David's Goddaughter Louise Bissell|
|21||The Hollywood Palace||1964||as Herself - Narrator|
|22||The Mike Douglas Show||1961||as Herself - Actress|
|23||The Peter Marshall Variety Show||1976||as Herself|
|24||Whats My Line?||1950||as Herself - Guest Panelist|
|26||50 Years of Funny Females||1995||as Herself|
|27||50 Years of Television: A Celebration of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Golden Anniversary||1997||as Herself|
|28||A Step Apart||1992||as Herself|
|29||A Tribute to Mr. Television Milton Berle||1978||as Herself|
|30||ABCs Silver Anniversary Celebration||1978||as Herself|
|31||Classic Stand-Up Comedy of Television||1996||as Host|
|32||Consenting Adult||1985||as Tess Lynd|
|33||Cricket on the Hearth||1967||as Bertha|
|34||Danny Thomas Christmas||1986||as Co-Host|
|35||Deceit||2004||as Ellen McCarthy|
|36||Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo||1999||as Margaret|
|37||Free to Be... a Family||1988||as Herself|
|38||Free to Be... You & Me||1974||as Herself - Host|
|39||Free to Laugh: A Comedy and Music Special for Amnesty International||1992||as Herself|
|40||Gloria: In Her Own Words||2011||as Herself|