Phil Donahue Didn’t Want to Dance with Princess Diana

Former talk show host Phil Donahue was asked to dance with Princess Diana, but he hesitated. Here’s why he didn’t want to dance with the royal when he was initially presented with the opportunity.

Phil Donahue’s rise to fame

Princess Diana and Phil Donahue | Ken Goff/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images
Princess Diana and Phil Donahue | Ken Goff/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

Phil Donahue is best known for hosting Donahue (formerly known as The Phil Donahue Show) from 1967 until 1995. Before that, he was a radio and television production assistant. He also held jobs as an announcer, program director, and television news anchor.

Phil Donahue’s movies and TV shows

Donahue is more than a talk-show host. He also spent some time as an actor. Donahue made his acting debut in a 1978 TV movie titled Danny Thomas: Young & Foolish. His next television role was many years later in a 1992 episode of Who’s the Boss titled “Tony Micelli, This Is Your Life.” In 1999, Donahue appeared in three episodes of Frasier. In 2008, he appeared in an episode of Watching the Detectives titled “Cut to the Chase.”

Why Phil Donahue didn’t want to dance with Princess Diana

During a round of “Have You Ever Met?” on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, the host asks Donahue and his wife, Marlo Thomas, if they ever met Princess Diana. They said they both met her, and Donahue mentioned he danced with her. “I had to fight off all of the guys who wanted to cut in,” said Donahue. Thomas mentioned her husband didn’t want to dance with the royal at first.

Donahue was given the chance of a lifetime. Why did he initially shoot down the opportunity? Donahue’s wife says he was simply nervous. However, after overcoming his nerves, the former talk show host agreed to dance with Princess Diana.

“He had the first dance at a gala we went to in Chicago,” said Thomas. “And it was funny because they called us ahead of time. And I was speaking at this luncheon in the afternoon for [Princess Diana]. And [Donahue] said, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do that.’ Phil is very shy; people don’t realize that. He did [dance with her]. He had the first dance with Princess Diana at the party. And they got along great. They were chatting away while they were dancing. I was very impressed.”

Requirements Phil Donahue had to fulfill before dancing with Princess Diana

Men who were considered to dance with Princess Diana had to meet a list of requirements. One of the requirements was that he had to be six-feet tall. He also had to be married. “They said we need a man to dance with Princess Diana and there are three rules: a) he has to be married, b) [the wife] has to be in the room, and c) he has to be at least 6-feet tall. And we’d like Phil to be that person,” said Thomas.

What Phil Donahue is up to now

Donahue and Thomas are currently promoting their book, What Makes a Marriage Last.

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