In 1977, actress Marlo Thomas was a guest on The Phil Donahue Show. Phil met Marlo in the green room before the taping started, and it was a love-at-first-sight fest. When the interview started rolling, Phil asked Marlo tons of personal questions, and Marlo was smitten with what felt like a first date, which would become the first of many memorable moments.
They wed 3 years after meeting, and 41 years later, they’re still going strong. When one of their coupled friends announced they were getting a divorce, they began wondering if their marriage could head for the same fate, and where it continued to go right. Marlo and Phil became interested in factors and secrets that make marriages last, so they began having conversations with celebrated celebrity couples about their love stories, double-date style. All interviews were published in Marlo and Phil’s book, What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share With Us the Secrets to a Happy Life.
The couples’ interviews included in their book are brought to life in the podcast, “Double Date with Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue.” Marlo and Phil traveled to the couples’ homes for revealing conversations on what makes or breaks relationships and families: love, career, jealousy, struggles, addiction, illness, and more. With plenty of anecdotes and laughs, it’s interesting to hear how their marriages work and what they do when challenges arise. We’ll hear with an array of individuals from all fields: actors, athletes, journalists, musicians, and a former president and first lady.
Neil Patrick Harris & David Burtka
Marlo visited the couple Neil Patrick Harris & David Burtka in their Harlem, New York brownstone. Phil had the flu, so Marlo went solo. Marlo toured their home and settled with Neil and David in their old Hollywood-inspired red velvet-adorned screening room for an intimate conversation. Growing up, Neil thought he was going to be single or alone for most of his adult life, while David always knew he was going to get married and have a family. Their paths crossed in a New York minute.
How they met
David got the role of Tulsa in Gypsy starring Bernadette Peters, while Neil starred in a neighboring Broadway show. Neil passed a friend on the street who was walking with the stud-ly David. They chatted for a bit, and Neil was happy to find out the hot dude was also gay. David and Neil had similar schedules, since they were both doing shows at the same time, and kept running into each other around town. Neil said he was vulturing around David, waiting to ask him out. David was just breaking off a relationship, so it was great timing. Aww!
They started dating and never stopped. In 2010, they welcomed twins via a surrogate and egg donor and married in Perugia, Italy in 2014. They shared how their relationship has shifted over time and the hugely difficult situations they navigated when their kids arrived.
They fall in love with each other over and over again!
Marlo asked if either of them are jealous types, and Neil said he’s more protective than jealous. Neil and David said they keep falling in love with each other over and over again. They also discussed how relationships morph over time while communicating everything, planning date nights, and how strong their sex life continues to be. Neil and David have been seeing a couples counselor for over 10 years, before anything “goes wrong,” to hone in on communication, openness, and honesty. Neil and David agree that one key ingredient that makes their marriage last is laughter!
Guests this season
This season, tune in for conversations with: Viola Davis & Julius Tennon; Sting & Trudie Styler; Ray & Anna Romano; John McEnroe & Patty Smyth; Ten Danson & Mary Steenburgen; Kelly Ripa & Mark Consuelos; Bob Woodward & Elsa Walsh; Rodney & Holly Robinson Peete; George Stephanopoulos & Ali Wentworth; Patricia Cornwell & Staci Gruber; Judges Judy & Jerry Sheindlin; Dr. Sanjay & Rebecca Gupta; Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter; John & Justine Leguizamo; David & Mary Boies; Bryan Cranston & Robin Dearden; Jesse & Jacqueline Jackson; Rob & Michele Reiner; and Michael J. Fox & Tracy Pollan.
“Double Date with Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue” is a Pushkin Industries production.