In the 1970s, the Phil Donahue Show was appointment television for my mom. She started watching it on cable from WGN in Chicago and then on a local station when it became syndicated. She called it one of the few intelligent programs on TV, at least until Donahue succumbed to booking unicycling transvestites on speed and other “warped society” guests, as Mom called them.
Today I can see the show’s appeal (before it tried to compete with the freakshows on Oprah). He booked some great guests and asked provocative questions. I remember two shows in particular, one with famous atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair and another with my mom’s favorite singer, Johnny Mathis. But I don’t remember any other guests because, at that young age, I would rather have had ants stuffed up my nostrils than watch Donahue.
From 1977, here’s how Donahue opened on WGN.
And, from my collection, here’s the theme in its entirety!