Woman #3 Women’s History Month: Marlo Thomas as Ann Marie in That Girl!

In honor of Women’s History Month I’m saying, “Thank you!”. to some women who inspired me.

When I was just a kid I loved watching That Girl! Starring Marlo Thomas.

In the popular sitcom which ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971 Thomas played Ann Marie, an aspiring actress who had moved from her hometown to New York City. She worked a wide variety of temp jobs to support herself while trying to get her big acting break.

I wanted to be like Ann Marie. She was living in a big city with an exciting job, her own apartment and a handsome boyfriend. I wanted that.

I was too young to understand the real importance of the show. Thomas was one of the first women to play a single, self-supporting woman living on her own. Not a wife. Not a mother. Not a maid. A single woman making her way in the world. This was groundbreaking.

As I grew into adulthood my admiration for Marlo Thomas grew.

Thomas, who’d acted in television and movies, is said to have turned down several starring roles before That Girl! came along because she wanted to play a young independent woman who was focused on her own dreams and ambitions. When Thomas came up with the idea for the show TV executives were concerned that audiences would find a series about a woman on her own uninteresting and unrealistic.

She formed Daisy Productions to produce the show and was one of the executive producers. Only the second woman, after Lucille Ball, to produce her own show. Today, almost 45 years after the series ended the show continues in reruns on ME-TV. Guess those executives were wrong.

After five seasons, although ratings remained strong, Thomas wanted to end the series and move on. In the final series Donald and Ann become engaged. The sponsors wanted a wedding but Thomas rejected the idea because she didn’t want to leave girls with the impression that a husband was the only goal.

She didn’t slow down after the show ended. She continued as a busy actress, writer, philanthropist and activist. In 1973 she, along with three other women founded the Ms. Foundation for Women, the first women’s fund to support women’s voices in communities nationwide.

Still a working actress at age 77; Thomas has an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a Grammy. She’s author of six best-selling books, a philanthropist, and activist. In 2014 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She serves as National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital which was started by her father, comedian Danny Thomas. She continues to write and conduct interviews at MarloThomas.com on Huffington Post.

Ann Marie inspired me as a child. Marlo Thomas continued to inspire me as an adult.

Thank you, Marlo Thomas!

Thank a woman. Inspire a woman. Create a movement.

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