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by WNYC Studios
Death, Sex & Money

Marlo Thomas Is Her Mother's Revenge

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As a young woman, actor and activist Marlo Thomas thought marriage was not a good idea. After watching her mother abandon her own successful singing career to support her father's career in acting, "I thought [marriage] really was a place for one and a half persons," she told me. One person, a man or woman, could live their lives fully, "and the other person would be the half person that would support the other person in their dream." Marlo's views on marriage were well known, too. "Marriage is like a vacuum cleaner," she famously said. "You stick it to your ear and it sucks out all your energy and ambition."

So it came as a surprise to some that, at age 42, Marlo married TV host Phil Donahue after dating for several years. "I had to understand that I could define my own marriage," she told me. "I didn't have to have somebody else's model." And her own model worked: she and Phil have now been married for 40 years. I talked with Marlo about how her beliefs about marriage shifted, and about how her own marriage has continued to evolve as she and Phil have entered their 80s.

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by WNYC Studios