Phil Donahue Net Worth 2022 – Salary, Income, Earnings

Phil Donahue Net Worth 

Phil Donahue has an estimated net worth of $150 million. The longtime host of ‘Donahue,’ Phil Donahue established the modern daytime talk show format with his focus on audience participation and hot-button social issues. He earns most of his income from his career as a journalist, actor, and writer. 

Phil Donahue, born in 1935 in Ohio, went into broadcasting after graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1957. Ten years later, he began hosting The Phil Donahue Show, which, with its audience participation and exploration of controversial issues, set a new standard for daytime talk shows. Donahue won numerous Emmy Awards before retiring in 1996 due to years of declining ratings. He returned to television in 2002 with a brief stint on MSNBC, and he also directed the 2007 documentary Body of War.

To calculate the net worth of Phil Donahue, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: Phil Donahue
Net Worth: $150 Million
Monthly Income: $1 Million+
Annual Salary: $20 Million
Source of Wealth: Journalist, Actor, Presenter, Film Producer, Writer, Voice Actor

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‘The Phil Donahue Show’

Following a brief stint as a salesman, Donahue returned to television in November 1967 as the host of The Phil Donahue Show on Dayton’s WLWD-TV. Although the show began with the standard host-guest interaction, Donahue quickly discovered a winning formula of soliciting questions from the studio audience.

The program quickly gained popularity as a forum for today’s hot-button social issues, and by the fall of 1971, it had spread to more than 40 stations. When production was moved to WGN-TV in Chicago in 1974, the show’s title was shortened to Donahue.

Over the years, Donahue has hosted a number of high-profile guests, including Ronald Reagan, Nelson Mandela, and Jane Fonda. However, he remained most popular for his dedication to contentious issues, including women’s rights, homosexuality, and the Catholic Church’s misdeeds. In 1977, he won his first Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host, and by 1979, the show was airing in more than 200 markets.

Donahue made history in 1985 after moving to WNBC-TV in New York City, when he teamed up with Soviet radio and TV personality Vladimir Pozner for the first live discussion between an American and a Soviet audience. Donahue became the first American talk show to be filmed in the Soviet Union in 1987.

Phil Donahue’s format paved the way for subsequent successful talk show hosts such as Geraldo Rivera, Sally Jessy Raphael, and Oprah Winfrey — the latter, who began her broadcast talk show in Chicago, specifically paid homage to the pioneering talk show host, saying “if there hadn’t been a Phil, there wouldn’t have been a me.”

Unfortunately, the same talk show hosts who inspired him were also the ones who brought him down, as Donahue began to lose viewers to Winfrey and Raphael, and later to more controversial talk shows like The Jerry Springer Show.

After years of declining ratings, Donahue’s show was cancelled in 1996. This was also the year he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Emmy.

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Return to TV and Documentary

MSNBC drew the silver-haired host out of retirement in July 2002 to oversee the much-anticipated return of Donahue. However, the ratings-challenged cable network axed the show just eight months later. Despite rising ratings, Donahue never seriously challenged the popular programs in its time slot, and its host felt singled out because of his anti-war stance.

Donahue remained out of the spotlight until 2007, when he produced and directed the documentary Body of War. Three years later, he appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show alongside other popular hosts such as Rivera, Raphael, Montel Williams and Ricki Lake.

Donahue’s influence grows with each bold talk show that hits the airwaves, thanks to his intelligent, informative daytime talk show style. His probing questions, bounding up and down the aisles of his studio to get as many audience comments as possible, have made him legendary.


Donahue and his first wife, Margaret Cooney, have five children: four sons, Michael, Kevin, Daniel, and Jim, and a daughter, Mary Rose. He met his second wife, actress Marlo Thomas, on his show, and they married in 1980.


In 1979, the famous TV host published his autobiography, Donahue: My Own Story. He also wrote The Human Animal, a book that was published in 1985 to accompany a five-part television series about human behavior that aired the following year.

Donahue and his wife published What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share the Secrets to a Happy Life in 2020, which included interviews with other long-lasting, high-profile couples such as Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick and Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.

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Early Life

Phillip John Donahue, a talk show host, was born on December 21, 1935, in Cleveland, Ohio. Phillip, his father, was a furniture salesman, and Catherine, his mother, was a shoe clerk. As a child, Donahue participated in a variety of activities, including baseball and dance lessons.

He was a member of St. Edward High School’s first graduating class in the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood, where he played in the school band and drew cartoons for the school newspaper. Despite his poor academic performance, he was admitted to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1957.

Early Career

Donahue got a job as a summer replacement announcer at KYW-AM and KYW-TV in Cleveland after graduating. He returned to KYW the following summer before finally breaking into the industry the following fall by joining WABJ radio in Adrian, Michigan.

Donahue then worked as a newscaster for Dayton, Ohio’s WHIO radio and television station, where he interviewed labor leader Jimmy Hoffa. He began hosting Conversation Piece, a radio phone-in talk show with a predominantly female audience, in 1963. Donahue rose through the ranks at WHIO, eventually co-anchoring the nightly news and hosting other daily programs until he left in June 1967.

Further Reading

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