Marge-Cooney Marge-Cooney

Marge Cooney: The Ex-wife of Phil Donahue

Margaret ‘Marge’ Cooney is mostly known for being the ex-wife of Phil Donahue. This article delves into her life to help you learn more about her.


There’s no information anywhere regarding her background or early life. She only became popular after getting married to Phil Donahue.

Personal Life

Information about her personal life is quite limited. However, we do know that she and Phil Donahue got married in 1958. They have five children together; Mary Rose Donahue, Daniel Donahue, Jim Donahue, Michael Donahue, and Kevin Donahue. Unfortunately, she and Phil Donahue went their separate ways in 1975. Cooney has chosen to live a private life since the divorce, so we have no further information about her personal life.


Her Ex-husband, Phil Donahue

TV icon Phil Donahue remains a name synonymous with deep discussions and audience participation. For almost three decades his talk show, simply called “Donahue,” tackled controversial and socially relevant issues on daytime television.

From a business background to a broadcasting pioneer, Phil Donahue was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1935. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame but he later switched to communications. Donahue studied interviewing and audience engagement in radio and local television.

A local Dayton, Ohio station offered him the gig of hosting “The Phil Donahue Show” in 1967. This began an era. Donahue’s format required regular audience participation – unlike scripted talk shows of the time.

The show became popular with talk-show hosts discussing Vietnam War, women’s rights and consumer protection. Donahue’s signature style – deep interviews, audience debates and willingness to take on controversial subjects – worked with a national audience. Its move to Chicago in 1974 strengthened its national appeal.

Donahue’s program had its critics. Conservative commentators claimed he had a liberal bias. However, Donahue countered that he simply wanted to encourage open discussion and differing opinions.

“Donahue” hosted politicians and activists as well as celebrities and everyday citizens throughout its run. The show won nine daytime Emmy Awards for outstanding talk show host. In fact, Oprah Winfrey said Donahue helped set her own talk show off the ground.

Donahue had an impact beyond television. He was a cultural touchstone that ignited national conversations and policy decisions. His show was cancelled in 1996 but did little to diminish his legacy. In the early 2000s, he appeared on MSNBC briefly and has since been involved in progressive causes.

At age 88 in 2024, Phil Donahue was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Various estimates of his net worth put Donahue comfortable. We believe he made a lot of money from his talk shows and other ventures. Most importantly though, he created a spirit of pioneering discussion on television that forced viewers to think critically about current issues.

Personal life of Donahue is mostly private. The two-time married father of five has five children. He currently resides with actress Marlo Thomas.