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Carol Perkins: The Phil Donahue show

Phil Donahue, even though husband Guy thought him a Communist and a flaming liberal, was her favorite Tv host. She wanted to see the show since it started in 1970. She asked for tickets - and got them! 'Having those tickets in my hand was like having four tickets to the NCAA final four to a basketball fanatic.' she says
The next earlier Carol Perkins column is Let's Face It - The Permanent Facelift

By Carol Perkins

Phil Donahue was the first noteworthy daytime talk show host and I taped and watched every episode faithfully. At nine in the morning for twenty-six years, he blazed a trail of controversial topics and brought them straight into our homes. I still miss the Phil Donahue Show.

The first episode was in 1970. I dreamed of being in the audience one day, but had no clue that I ever would. Then Guy changed jobs and this change led to his having Chicago connections (sounds like the Mafia), and a reason to be there each year. Click, the switch turned on!

In thinking about being near Chicago and the fact that the Phil Donahue Show was taped in there, I composed a letter, asking for four coveted tickets. I didn't tell Guy about writing for tickets because he would have said we wouldn't have had time to go off on a "tangent" and away from the convention where he was supposed to be "working." This would have put a kink in his agenda, but I couldn't resist at least trying to get those tickets.

So, I wrote to the Donahue Show, gave the exact date I would be in town, and a boring story of a woman who had never been to Chicago and was a huge fan, etc. I mailed the letter and for a few weeks went to the mailbox with a glimmer of hope. As the weeks passed, so did my thought of the Donahue Show. Until....

One afternoon after school, I pulled the mail from the box as usual and found an envelop with a return address from the Donahue Show. I dashed to the car like a teenager and ripped open the envelope. Tucked inside was a form letter with directions and instructions and four tickets to the Phil Donahue Show. Dumbfounded. I was totally dumbfounded. Having those tickets in my hand was like having four tickets to the NCAA final four to a basketball fanatic.

"Guy, guess what?" He knows what those words probably mean he is going to have to do something he doesn't want to do.

"I have four tickets to the Phil Donahue Show on Friday while we are in Chicago!"

"Well, don't think I'm going. He is a Communist and a flaming liberal!" Guy has a way of exaggeration when it comes to political differences. I knew he would have to go or I wouldn't be able to get there. One thing at a time.

It didn't take long after meeting the new people, with whom Guy would be working, and their wives for me to connect with a couple of the women.

I was immediately comfortable with Shirley (the boss's wife) and Teresa, so while we were having lunch, I merely mentioned that I had four tickets to Donahue. They were flabbergasted. "HOW DID YOU GET TICKETS? WE LIVE HERE AND CAN'T GET THEM!"

They spread the word that Carol had tickets. Then I felt badly because there were other women who were dying to go, too.

Friday morning, Guy and we three women headed for downtown Chicago. Amazing what a man will say he is not going to do to his wife, but when pressured by two strangers will succumb.

"Oh, Guy, you have to go! We don't know how to get there." Neither did he, but what choice did the man have? I smiled.

At the studio, I was seated in an aisle chair while Guy, Shirley, and Teresa were placed on the side. This put me in direct eyeshot of Phil and his guest, Bette Midler. I felt I was in the presence of greatness. I wanted to ask a question, so Phil would come stand by me and hold the microphone in my face, but I couldn't muster up the nerve. Finally, when I did, they cut to commercial break (I discovered this when I watched it later.)

Here at home, I had told everyone I knew about having Phil Donahue tickets. Word got out that I was going to be on the show rather than going to the show. I often wondered what people thought I would be doing ON the show? Funny how things get started, and I imagine those who tuned in wondered what happened to my appearance, so now the record is straight!

When the show came to an end, I felt I had lost a family friend who came to visit each day. Since then, no one else has compared. Not Oprah, not Ellen, not Rosie, not Helen Hunt, not Mike Douglas, not Montel, not Morie, and certainly not Jerry Springer. Now that would have been a story, for sure! -Carol Perkins

A Great Christmas Idea: (My second book, Let's Keep Talking, has just been released and will be on sale beginning today at Ivy Bookstore in Glasgow for $15. Please contact me at if you have questions. -Carol) (My second book, Let's Keep Talking, has just been released and will be on sale beginning today at Ivy Bookstore in Glasgow for $15. Please contact me at if you have questions. -Carol)

This story was posted on 2010-11-28 06:25:10
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