Margaret Julia Thomas
Marlo Thomas
Name Margaret Julia Thomas
Birthdate November 21, 1937
Memorable Works That Girl
Character Nancy Niles
 Margaret Julia “Marlo” Thomas  is an American actress, producer, and social activist known for her starring role on the TV series That Girl (1966–1971). She portrays Nancy Niles on the NBC show The New Normal. She also serves as National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Early LifeEdit

Thomas was born in Detroit, Michigan, the eldest child of comedian Danny Thomas (1912–1991) and his wife, the former Rose Marie Cassaniti (1914–2000). On her mother's side, she is also the granddaughter of drummer and percussionist, Marie "Mary" Cassaniti (1896–1972). Her brother, Tony Thomas, is a television and film producer, and her sister, Terre Thomas, is a former actress. Her father was Lebanese American and her mother was Italian American.

Marlo Thomas was raised in Beverly Hills, California. Her parents called her Margo as a child, though she soon became known as Marlo, she told The New York Times, because of her childhood mispronunciation of the nickname. She attended Marymount High School in Los Angeles. Thomas graduated from the University of Southern California with a teaching degree; "I wanted a piece of paper that said I was qualified to do something," she said. She was also a member of the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta.


Early CareerEdit

Thomas was a regular on The Joey Bishop Show from 1961 to 1962, playing Joey's star-struck sister, Stella Barnes. She followed the series with guest appearances on The Many Loves of Dobie GillisBen CaseyMy Favorite Martian, and Bonanza. It was at this time that she had rhinoplasty surgery to reduce the size of her nose.

In 1967, she and her father Danny Thomas provided the voices of Caleb and his daughter Bertha in the Rankin-Bass animated adaption of Charles Dickens classic novella The Cricket on the Hearth.

That GirlEdit

Thomas signed a contract with ABC in 1966, to star in the network's newest sitcom, That Girl. Thomas played Ann Marie, an up-and-coming actress who's the girlfriend to Donald Hollinger (played by Ted Bessell). The series told the day-to-day struggles of Ann: holding different temp jobs and how she desperately wants a career on Broadway. The series was the first television show to focus on a single girl who doesn't live with her parents.

That Girl became popular for its opening theme in which ended with someone saying "...that girl", in which Ann then appears on the screen and the words "That Girl" appear over a freeze-frame shot of Ann. The sequence was different for every episode and usually indicated what the episode was going to be about. This motif was abandoned in season five and was replaced with lyrics.

Despite being a solid ratings performer on ABC, That Girl never reached the overall top 30. Thomas requested ending the show after season four, even though it was still in the top 35. ABC convinced her to do one more year. In the beginning of season five, Ann and Donald get engaged but never marry. Thomas didn't want to send a message to young girls that marriage was their main goal. The series was cancelled in 1971, after 136 episodes. During the show's five-year-run, Thomas won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Emmy four times.

Later CareerEdit

After That Girl, eager to expand her horizons, Thomas attended the Actors Studio, where she would study with Lee Strasberg until his death in 1982, and subsequently with Strasberg's disciple Sandra Seacat. Writing in 2010, Thomas expressed gratitude to both individuals.

While honing her craft at the Actors Studio, Thomas remained active on other fronts. In 1972, she released a children's book, Free to Be... You and Me, which was inspired by her young niece Dionne Thomas. She went on to create multiple recordings and television specials of and related to that title: Free to Be... You and Me (1972 and 1974) and Free to Be... A Family (1987), with Christopher Cerf.

In 1973, Marlo Thomas joined Gloria Steinem, Patricia Carbine, and Letty Cottin Pogrebin as the founders of the country’s first women’s fund, the Ms. Foundation for Women. The organization was created to deliver funding and other resources to organizations that were presenting women’s voices in communities nationwide.

Adept at drama as well as comedy, Thomas appeared in the television movies It Happened One Christmas (1977) (a remake of It's a Wonderful Life with Thomas in the rewritten James Stewart role), Nobody's Child (1986), and The Lost Honor of Kathryn Beck (1984) while she starred in films Jenny (1970) and Thieves (1977).

Thomas's Broadway theatre credits include Thieves (1974), Social Security (1986, in which she also toured), and The Shadow Box (1994). In 1993 she toured in Six Degrees of Separation. In 2007, she starred as Doreen in Elaine May's comedy Roger Is Dead at George Street Playhouse. She returned to George Street Playhouse in the spring of 2008 in Arthur Laurents's play New Year's Eve with Keith Carradine and Natasha Gregson Wagner.

Thomas appeared as Margaret (as the client with a vicious dog) in an uncredited role in the film Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (1999).

Marlo Thomas is also active with the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where she serves as the national outreach director. She is donating all royalties from her 2004 book and CD, Thanks & Giving: All Year Long (also produced with Cerf), to the hospital, which was started by her late father, Danny Thomas. The organization helps gravely ill young children.

Thomas has further supported charity through her publications of the two volumes of The Right Words at the Right Time.

In recent years, Thomas has made guest appearances on Ally McBealFriends, as well as on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. She also appeared in the 2000 comedy Playing Mona Lisa.

From October 2011 to January 29, 2012, Thomas starred in a Broadway play called George Is Dead written by Elaine May, which was part of an anthology play, Relatively Speaking, which also featured plays written by Ethan Cohen (Talking Cure) and Woody Allen (Honeymoon Motel).

In 2012, she co-starred in the film LOL, opposite Miley Cyrus and Demi Moore.

She currently narrates the series Happily Never After on Investigation Discovery.

Thomas is a contributor to Web site and edits at the Huffington Post.



  • The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis
  • 77 Sunset Strip
  • Zane Grey Theater
  • Thriller
  • The Danny Thomas Show
  • The Joey Bishop Show
  • Insight
  • Arrest and Trial
  • Bonanza
  • My Favorite Martian
  • Wendy and Me
  • McHale's Navy
  • Valentine's Day
  • The Donna Reed Show
  • Two's Company
  • Ben Casey
  • That Girl
  • Cricket on the Hearth
  • The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie
  • Acts of Love and Other Comedies
  • The Practice
  • It Happened One Christmas
  • The Lost Honor of Kathryn Beck
  • Consenting Adult
  • Nobody's Child
  • Held Hostage: The Sis and Jerry Levin Story
  • Ultimate Betrayal
  • Reunion
  • Roseanne
  • Friends
  • Frasier
  • Ally McBeal
  • Two Against Time
  • Deceit
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
  • Ugly Betty
  • The New Normal


  • Jenny
  • Thieves
  • In the Spirit
  • The Real Blonde
  • Starstruck
  • Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo
  • Playing Mona Lisa
  • In the Woods
  • LOL

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