PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Relatively Speaking Star Marlo Thomas

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22 Nov 2011

Marlo Thomas
Marlo Thomas

Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Marlo Thomas, currently back on the New York stage in Relatively Speaking, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire with random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

Thomas has appeared on Broadway in The Shadow Box, Social Security and Thieves. Off-Broadway, she has been seen in The Vagina Monologues, The Guys and The Exonerated and in the national tour of Six Degrees of Separation.

Famous as the star of TV's "That Girl," she won an Emmy Award for the TV movie "Nobody's Child." She also created "Free to Be...You and Me" TV specials, books and records, as well as the bestselling books, "The Right Words at the Right Time, Volumes 1 and 2."

Visit marlothomas.com



Full given name: Marlo Thomas. I was born Margaret. My parents nicknamed me Margo, which I couldn’t pronounce. It came out “Marlo” and that’s what it's been ever since.

Where you were born/where you were raised: I was born in Detroit, Michigan, but my dad was on the road and we only lived there for the first six month of my life. I was raised in Beverly Hills, California.
Zodiac Sign:Scorpio
What your parents did/do for a living:My father was the comedian Danny Thomas, and my mother was a singer and a homemaker.
Special skills: Working under pressure, staying focused no matter what.



Something you're REALLY bad at: Dueling
First Broadway show you ever saw: Camelot, and I loved it.
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be? A Streetcar Named Desire with Marlon Brando.
Current show other than your own you have been recommending to friends: The Book of Mormon
Favorite showtune of all time: The entire score of A Chorus Line
Some favorite musicals: A Chorus Line and Gypsy
Some favorite plays: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
A Doll’s House
Chekhov's one acts
Early Neil Simon such as Come Blow Your Horn. So funny!
Some favorite playwrights or screenwriters: Edward Albee, Elaine May, Woody Allen, Ethan Coen, Aaron Sorkin
Stars of the past or present you would most love to perform with: Katharine Hepburn, Marlon Brando, Cary Grant
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: Uta Hagen in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Music that makes you cry, any genre: Torch songs... especially by Judy Garland.
"America the Beautiful" sung by Ray Charles.
MAC or PC? MAC
Most-visited website: MarloThomas.com
Huffington Post Women (huffingtonpost.com/women)
Paley Center (paleycenter.org)
Women's Media Center (womensmediacenter.com)
Last book you read: "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese
Must-see TV show: "Mad Men"
Last good movie you saw: "Midnight in Paris"
Some films you consider classics: "The Godfather I & II"
"Two for the Road"
All the Preston Sturges films, especially "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek."
Performers you would drop everything to go see: Actors: Meryl Streep, Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline, Frank Langella, Bobby Cannavale, John Turturro

Comedians: Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Steven Wright

Pop culture guilty pleasure: Late-night comedy clubs
Favorite cities: New York, Paris, Venice
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: It was a children's storytelling record featuring Bing Crosby as a prince. My sister, Terre, and I would lie on the floor listening to it on our little pink phonograph for hours. It was wonderful for our imagination to see all those pictures in our heads.
First stage kiss: In Gigi in summer stock... by Gaston, of course.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: When I was seven years old I would go to the studio with my father and I knew then that I wanted to be an actor.

I loved it there - the costumes, the getting quiet as they readied for a take, having lunch in the commissary sitting next to a man dressed as a pirate. It was all magical to me then, and it still is.

How you got your Equity card: When I did my first play at seventeen at the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara. It was a strange little mystery called Black Chiffon.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: Pasta always. I love Trattoria Trecolori right next door to the Brooks Atkinson, where we are playing now in Relatively Speaking.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Tuscan red wine
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: I do a 20-minute vocalization in the theatre both on stage and in the audience before every performance. It not only warms up my voice but it makes me at home in the space.

Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: The first preview of Social Security in our D.C. tryout, the wall fell down!

Ron Silver just pushed it back up and we kept on going. It was so terrible and so terribly funny.

Worst job you have ever had: On the television show "Bonanza" I was thrown into a water trough, with little water in it, and whacked my behind.

But I took away three things from the experience: 1) a bad back 2) the realization that I was not a stunt woman 3) the lesson that you should always politely ask the director to try not to kill you.

Worst costume ever: In my series “That Girl,” my character Ann Marie, was always trying to get a job as an actress. She never got a good job but one of the worst was when I played a singing mop in a TV commercial. The mop head hung from my head and I had to sing through it!
Some favorite screen/commercial gigs: My favorite dramatic role I’ve played was in "Nobody’s Child," a made-for-TV movie directed by the wonderful Lee Grant.
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: I did it once at the Hartford Stage and I’d like to do it again: Martha in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
Career you would want if not a performer: I can’t imagine anything that would have consumed me the way working at my craft has. But working with St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and seeing the difference we make in the lives of sick kids is pretty irresistible.
Three things you can't live without: 1. My husband, Phil
2. Good friends that I trust
3. Laughing heartily. I go to comedy clubs regularly in the pursuit of it.
"I'll never understand why…" ... we don’t alternate matinee days in different theatres in NYC. When I was a young actress doing Barefoot in ihe Park in London I went to the National Theatre and saw Maggie Smith and Albert Finney in Miss Julie and Laurence Olivier in Othello. Thrilling performances. But in NYC when you’re in a play you don’t have that opportunity.
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Study acting, work in community theatre, take part in workshops. Be ready. Most actors get a good chance, not everyone gets a second chance.