How Phil Donahue Invented Daytime Talk Show TV

By Jacob Shelton
Phil Donahue on the air in 1982. (Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

In 1967, The Phil Donahue Show premiered on a local Dayton, Ohio, television channel and for the next 20 plus years the talk show introduced audiences to a ton of cultural issues, both controversial and heartwarming, from mild to wild. Donahue himself wasn't exactly a mystery, but the series was never about him, audiences never got to know the enigma that was Phil, the guy from the Buckeye State.

Daytime talk shows were all the rage in the '80s and '90s, but Donahue showed them all how do it. Oprah, Ricki Lake, Sally Jessy Raphael, Jenny Jones, even Maury Povich and Jerry Springer learned how to do their thing thanks to Donahue. He not only set the template for the shows that followed, but he changed the television landscape forever.