Saturday, September 24, 2011

Marlo Thomas

Since September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Today’s WOD is Marlo Thomas, National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Born (Julia “Marlo” Thomas) in Detroit Michigan November 21, 1937 to actor Danny Thomas & Rose Cassaniti. Since her dad was an actor Marlo grew up in Beverly Hills California, she attended University of Southern California with a degree in teaching because she wanted to say that she was qualified to do “something”. She did eventually go into the acting business. Marlo began her career performing in regional theaters around the country, when Mike Nichols cast her as the lead in the London production of Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. Thomas was a regular on The Joey Bishop Show from 1961 to 1962; she followed the series with several guest appearances on other television shows.

But most of us were introduced to her from the role she received in 1966, the role for which she is still known today: New York actress Ann Marie on the ABC sitcom "That Girl". Marlo Thomas has been a role model for women and children since she blazed the trail as television’s first single woman living alone in that hit series. She received a Golden Globe Award and four Emmy nominations for "That Girl".

She may have begun as an actress but she went on to be a producer and a social activist. In 1973, Marlo Thomas joined Gloria Steinem, Patricia Carbine, and Letty Cottin Pogrebin as the founders of the country’s first women’s fund, the Ms. Foundation for Women. The organization was created to deliver funding and other resources to organizations that were presenting women’s voices in communities nationwide.

Her involvement with St. Jude:

When Marlo’s mother was pregnant with her, her father was a struggling actor. Her father Danny was torn between his dedication to his work and his responsibility to his wife and their new baby.

Desperate, Danny sought relief in prayer. He knelt before the statue of St. Jude, the patron saint of the hopeless causes, and begged for a sign: should he or should he not remain in show business? Impulsively, Danny promised to erect a shrine to St. Jude if the saint would show Danny his way in life.

His career took off and he enjoyed much success and financial security Throughout his successes, Danny never forgot his promise to St. Jude. The shrine would be a hospital for needy children, a place where they would be cared for regardless of race, religion or ability to pay—a hospital where no suffering child would be turned away. Danny gave of himself wholeheartedly in the effort to realize his dream, contributing his talents, time and money.

From Danny's pledge that hospital care would be accessible to all children, regardless of their ability to pay, grew ALSAC, one of the most successful fund-raising organizations in American history.

When late entertainer Danny Thomas opened the doors to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 1962, he was not just changing the lives of those children who would walk through its doors. He was changing lives across the world.

Since his death, his eldest child, Marlo proudly serves as National Outreach Director for St. Jude Hospital. The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family's ability to pay.

Today, Marlo attends events around the country to promote St. Jude with corporations, individual donors and other celebrities. She has been actively involved in solidifying support for St. Jude from various corporations.

In 2004, Marlo, Terre and Tony created Thanks and Giving®, a national campaign that encourages holiday shoppers to “Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not.” During the months of November and December, consumers are asked to help raise funds at participating retailers by adding a donation at check out or by purchasing specialty items to benefit St. Jude. Thanks to Marlo’s efforts, Thanks and Giving has been featured on NBC’s Today show in multiple segments spotlighting patients, doctors, scientists and the ground-breaking research and treatment at St. Jude.

“My father said there were two kinds of people in the world: givers and takers. The takers may eat better, but the givers sleep better.” – Marlo Thomas